ASU, EAC partnership to expand access to education in Arizona

man speaking at podium

A new partnership between Eastern Arizona College (EAC) and Arizona State University was celebrated during a kickoff event on March 6 at the EAC campus in Thatcher, Arizona. EAC President Mark Bryce, a long-time advocate for quality education programs for the communities of Eastern Arizona, said the future is now, to about 700 people who attended the event in EAC’s auditorium.

“We live in an age with great challenges, but we also live in an age with the greatest opportunities,” Bryce said addressing students in the crowd. “A great education will take advantage of the opportunities and allow you to make a difference for the positive.” 

EAC serves the higher education needs for three counties – Graham, Greenlee, and Gila in east central Arizona. The new program will help bring on-site Pac-12 quality bachelor’s degrees to EAC students through this partnership with ASU, and is expected to become an innovative model for bachelor’s degree completion throughout the state.

For ASU, the agreement is about access, meeting community needs and improving the state of Arizona, said ASU President Michael Crow.

“We are here to help expand access to education in Arizona,” Crow said. “ASU is committed to the success of the state, the community and to this college.”

Students will be able to complete several bachelor’s degrees entirely on-site at EAC’s Thatcher campus, starting with two degrees in fall of 2012. A Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) and a bachelor of interdisciplinary studies (BIS) in organizational studies are the initial offerings.

“For nursing, we set up this program with an eye on students currently enrolled at EAC,” said Maria Hesse, ASU’s vice provost for academic partnerships. “But we also want to attract local nurses who are interested in going back to school to get a BSN and continue with their education.”

The BIS degree is good for business organizations, faith-based organizations, non-profits and government, said Elizabeth Capaldi, executive vice president and provost of ASU. In the fall of 2013, two additional degrees – one in elementary education and another in operations management – will be added.

Over time, students will have the option to complete their associate’s and bachelor’s degrees at EAC in nursing, business/organizational studies, elementary education, operations management and more. All of these majors have been specifically targeted to address employment needs in Eastern Arizona.

“EAC provides high quality college programs in beautiful facilities, with wonderful faculty,” said Hesse. “By sharing resources, we can offer the degrees at a lower cost so we anticipate this new model will be appreciated by parents and community leaders.”

Playing off the two schools mascots (Sun Devils and the Fighting Gila Monsters), Crow added, “Monsters and Devils are finally together.”