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ASU Downtown Phoenix campus opens its doors

August 15, 2006

Phoenix 's urban college campus offers service-oriented degrees, attracts students who desire city life

Maroon and gold are the two newest and brightest colors seen in Phoenix, as ASU has opened the doors to its Downtown Phoenix campus.

City leaders and university officials have been working around the clock to complete the first phase of the campus on time. The two groups celebrated their feat Aug. 15 in the University Center lobby with employees, friends, businesses and the public. The crowd listened to special remarks from Gov. Janet Napolitano, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and ASU President Michael Crow before taking a tour of the various campus facilities.

“ASU's mission can be summarized in three words – quality, access and impact,” Crow says. “Our downtown campus provides high-quality education and greater access to students who are either just graduating from high school or working adults achieving their educational goals. Additionally, the new campus helps ASU accommodate the state's burgeoning college-age population and demand for higher education.”

Nearly 4,000 students are preregistered to take at least one course at the downtown campus this month, and 600 staff and faculty relocated downtown to their new offices and classrooms throughout the summer.

The campus, situated in the heart of downtown Phoenix, provides an academically rigorous university experience in a vibrant, urban campus that is integral to the success of the community.

“As mayor, I am proud to be a partner in the future academic success of our residents, to improve the workforce and strengthen our economy,” Gordon says. “The City Council and I are focused on fostering a knowledge economy, with high-paying jobs with a high quality of life. The ASU Downtown Phoenix campus plays a major role in meeting that goal.”

The Downtown Phoenix campus is geared toward city-minded students attracted to service-oriented careers. It offers degree programs that focus on serving the city, whether it is improving its citizens' health, addressing the community's social and economic needs, teaching the youth or informing residents on key issues.

“We're creating something that has not existed in Arizona , which is a truly urban university environment that lets students and faculty experience the educational process in the midst of an active city,” says Mernoy Harrison, vice president and provost of the Downtown Phoenix campus.

To open the first phase, ASU relocated several colleges downtown, including:

• The College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation.

• The College of Public Programs (comprising the schools of Public Affairs, Social Work and Community Resources and Development).

• University College, which serves the university's exploratory majors and working adults.

ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Eight/KAET-TV, Phoenix 's PBS affiliate, will move downtown in 2008.

“I have a motto for the Downtown Phoenix campus, and that is, ‘Knowledge serves the city,' ” says Cordelia Candelaria, vice provost of academic affairs for the campus. “When you look at the programs moving downtown, you see that each has a strong connection to the community.”

The new campus will enhance higher education opportunities in Arizona . It also will revitalize Phoenix 's urban core into a booming 24-7 city where people live, work and entertain.

“You will see physical and intellectual improvements to downtown Phoenix during the next five years, as our students, staff and faculty help re-energize downtown – enhancing its cultural life and providing significant opportunities for economic development,” Crow says.

Most of the Downtown Phoenix campus is located within the boundaries of Fillmore Street on the north, Van Buren on the south, First Avenue on the west and Third Street on the east. As part of Phoenix 's Copper Square , the campus is located within minutes from shopping, entertainment, professional arts and music venues, in addition to professional sports stadiums.

The location of the campus enhances a student's life and college experiences. Unique to the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus is its geographic proximity to a full range of government, media, nonprofit, legal, medical and business venues, where students can gain internships, receive mentoring, network with professionals or obtain a full-time or part-time job while going to school.

“An urban campus is one in which a student's classes and living experiences are all done in a city environment, where all kinds of people reside and interact in a compact, vertical environment,” Harrison says.

By 2020, the campus will have 15,000 students across 20 acres in downtown Phoenix . Once the campus is fully built, it will integrate academic, public, private and residential development in a diverse – and modern – living and learning environment. Many of the parking lots and one-story buildings that exist today around the campus will be replaced with more vertical buildings and community areas, Harrison says.

“One of the hallmarks of an urban campus is that the campus itself is more vertical in nature, rather than horizontal,” he says.

Harrison compares the Downtown Phoenix campus to several other urban campuses spread across the nation, including Portland State University in Portland , Ore. ; the University of Washington in Tacoma , Wash. ; the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee ; New York University in New York ; and Northeastern University in Boston .

“We incorporated certain elements from each of these campuses to create a unique environment at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus,” Harrison says. “While these schools are much larger, the concept is the same, because we'll be deeply involved in the city from an academic, economic and community service standpoint.”

ASU and Phoenix have begun planning for the second phase of the Downtown Phoenix campus, which includes:

• A new, mixed-use building called Central Park East, located at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren.

• A civic space and public hall located between the post office and central bus station along Central Avenue .

• A student housing development where the Residential Commons currently resides.

• A full-service student union at the post office.

“We wish to thank Mayor Phil Gordon and the City Council for their continued support, and we thank the citizens for passing the bond and helping this campus become a reality,” Crow says. “We look forward to strengthening our partnerships with the residents, businesses and governing leadership of Phoenix as we expand the campus and embrace the cultural, socioeconomic and physical setting of downtown in the 21st century.”