The urban downtown campus long envisioned by Mesa Community College and a host of partners is beginning to take shape.
Later this month, Mesa General Hospital’s parent company will likely announce plans to pool resources with the college to expand training for health care professionals.
This fall, Northern Arizona University will begin offering advanced degrees through a special MCC program.
And a year from now, Mesa will share its main library branch with MCC as several new and existing downtown buildings are used to create the urban campus.
During a Tuesday luncheon of MCC’s Commission on Excellence in Education, MCC President Larry Christiansen outlined the college’s plan to parlay $10 million in bond proceeds into a downtown campus.
“This will not be a comprehensive campus,” he said. “This will be a partnershipdriven campus.”
The campus will be built around Mesa’s main library at First Street and Centennial Way.
“When you look at the (proposed) map you see the library is really the heart of the campus,” said deputy city manager Debbi Dollar.
Plans also include the city working with MCC to provide training facilities for firefighters and paramedics.
Dollar and most other speakers Tuesday stressed that details of exactly how and when everything will happen are still being negotiated.
MCC has smaller satellite locations at the Business and Industry Institute near the library, at its Downtown Center at Brown Road and Country Club Drive, near Williams Gateway Airport in southeast Mesa, and a nursing education program in Sun City.
MCC officials said the first NAU classes are to will be held at the Downtown Center this fall,
NAU President John Haeger said the Flagstaff-based university has established more than 30 distancelearning sites since taking on the role of making college degrees more accessible for all Arizona residents.
Its classes are usually in the form of “2+2" programs, allowing community college graduates to pursue undergraduate degrees from NAU through a mix of traditional and online classes.
Haeger did not say what programs NAU will offer in Mesa, but physical therapy and other health-related degrees would be a natural fit.
He said NAU, which offers classes at a few sites in the Valley, will soon have a wider presence. “The Board of Regents has an agreement for us to offer 2+2 programs across the Maricopa (Community College) system, and we hope it will be signed very, very soon.”
Mesa General Hospital CEO Brent Cope said the hospital’s corporate parent, IASIS Healthcare Corp., has collaborated with colleges in other parts of the country.
He said IASIS has signed a preliminary agreement with MCC– that
will involve “our nurses rotating in and out of training, sharing of facilities and opportunities in every aspect of support the community college has to offer.”
Mesa Fire Chief Harry Beck said the city plans three training and training-related facilities for the MCC downtown campus, including an emergency operations training center that can run real-time simulations and would likely draw interest from around the state.
Acting Mesa library director Heather Wolf said both sides have also met with the architect designing a computer commons that would either be added onto the 106,000-square-foot library or built next to it, with some changes happening as early as this academic year. Wolf said cities have been sharing libraries with Valley schools and colleges across the United States, but in some cases, including Scottsdale and Peoria, the city has ended up withdrawing and building its own facility.
“It’s a model that’s been used widely, with varying degrees of success, I’d say,” she said.