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ASU breaks ground on first honors campus

October 26, 2007

The nation’s first campus for honors students at a public university will begin taking shape Nov. 5 at ASU, when the first ceremonial shovel breaks ground on a new home for Barrett, the Honors College.

In addition to housing for 1,700 students, the 8.25-acre campus will feature its own dining center, classrooms, faculty and administrative offices and activity space. It will be modeled after residential colleges at Oxford, Harvard and Yale, offering an independent living and learning community with services for academically talented students enrolled in Barrett, as well as others who want the same environment.

A reception begins at 9:30 a.m. at the site, on the northwest corner of Rural Road and Apache Boulevard, with groundbreaking at 10 a.m. The seven-building campus is expected to be completed for the fall semester of 2009, at a cost of about $120 million.

Amenities will include a fitness center, computer lounge and lab, amphitheater, classrooms, outside activity courts and dining hall with covered terrace, garden and special dining rooms for events. It also will feature a sustainable living community, with low-consumption plumbing fixtures, enhanced energy monitoring, a green roof and organic garden offering students the opportunity to study and experience sustainable living concepts.

American Campus Communities is developing the Barrett campus in partnership with ASU, aiming to make it a signature site where students can experience the first state-of-the-art honors college of its kind in the country.

“Barrett combines the caring and advocacy of a small, residential four-year college with the vast resources of a large Pac-10 research university,” says Mark Jacobs, Barrett’s dean. “This new campus will stand alone among honors colleges around the country for the size of the campus and the comprehensiveness of services arranged in one place for honors students.

“Together, ASU and Barrett provide students with a wonderful combination. There’s no other place in the country where students can get a high quality education comparable to the Ivy Leagues at such a low cost,” adds Jacobs, himself a Harvard graduate and former associate provost at Swarthmore.

The Honors College at ASU was created in 1988 by an act of the Arizona Board of Regents to provide exceptional educational opportunities for outstanding students. As one of the first honors colleges in the country, it quickly rose to prominence, cited by Money magazine as one of the top eight honors programs in the United States six years later.

Intel’s chief executive officer, Craig Barrett, and his wife, Barbara, an ASU alumna, endowed the honors college with a $10 million gift in 2000, at the time the largest personal gift ever given to ASU. The college was named in recognition of their gift. The Barretts will be present at the groundbreaking, as will ASU President Michael Crow.

In the past 20 years, several other honors colleges and programs have been created around the country, but no other public university has its own free-standing honors college campus with classrooms, dining, faculty members and advisers on-site. Reader’s Digest named Barrett to its

“Best in America” list in 2005, as one of three honors colleges that offer “an Ivy League-style education minus the sticker shock.”
Barrett enrolls 2,800 students, 70 percent of them from Arizona, with an average SAT score of 1,340. Almost 600 are National Merit Scholars.

This year’s freshman class boasts 265 national scholars, including National Merit, National Hispanic and National Achievement scholars.

Top students come from across the country, drawn by the national reputation of Barrett for providing a nurturing, challenging environment within a large research university. All students are also enrolled in a disciplinary college to pursue one or more of the 255 majors and concentrations.

ASU plans to increase the number of students living on its four campuses from 8,500 to about 15,500 by the fall semester of 2009. It is expected that Barrett, which has a more selective enrollment process than ASU as a whole, will grow but remain at about six percent of the ASU population.

American Campus Communities is one of the largest developers, owners and managers of high-quality student housing communities in the United States. The company owns and manages a portfolio of 43 student communities containing about 26,900 beds.
ACC also is developing the South Campus Residential Community, Vista del Sol, which will add 1,866 beds to ASU’s on-campus housing accommodations in the first phase opening fall 2008.