Huntington University will now be a part of the future plans of the City of Peoria. On Tuesday, July 7, The Peoria City Council unanimously approved the Economic Development Activities Agreement needed to develop an additional campus location.
“The unanimous vote by the Peoria City Council to approve the Economic Development Agreement was quite encouraging as was the show of support by city officials and residents in attendance who offered positive personal comments regarding HU and our digital media arts programs,” said Jeff Berggren, former Huntington University Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing who moved to Arizona to pursue a campus location in the city. “It was clear from the other discussions items during the council meeting that Peoria continues to be a city that is growing in both population and excellence with a plan to continue both. Huntington is very much looking forward to being part of the future of the City of Peoria and the West Valley.”
In August of 2012, Dr. Ann McPherren, Huntington University Vice President for Strategy & Graduate/Adult Programs and Professor of Business and Economics, and Berggren made the first trip out to Peoria on behalf of the University to determine location, programs and funding sources for a campus location. Over that time, the relationships that McPherren and Berggren made with the city have deepened, and they have created connections with potential partners to assist with a successful new campus location in Arizona.
The University narrowed down its initial academic offerings to its largest, fastest growing and nationally recognized digital media arts program, which immediately fills unmet demand in higher education in the state of Arizona. Programs offered in Peoria will include broadcast-fusion media, film production and graphic design for the 2016-2017 school year. Digital animation and web development will be launched in 2017-1018.
“Digital media arts at HU builds on the strong media program within the Peoria Unified School District and creates a pipeline for students to study media from high school to college to a robust job market all within the same community,” Berggren said. “As a Christ-centered university it is in our institutional mission and DNA to engage and serve our community. Digital media is a great avenue to impact businesses and organizations, and Peoria will be a great city to serve.”
A school of DMA will establish Huntington University as one of two universities in a rapidly growing city that is part of the fifth largest metro area in the country, soon to be the fourth largest trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The city is very interested in other HU academic programs coming to Peoria as additional partnership opportunities present themselves.
“We are honored to be considered as collaborative partners with the City of Peoria in the continued exploration of a School of Media Arts,” said Huntington University President Sherilyn Emberton. “Our next steps include a matching fundraising effort and programmatic site development planning.”
The University has been working on a number of the next steps necessary for the campus launch after the Economic Development Agreement and will pursue those activities with heightened vigor after the strong vote of confidence by the Peoria City Council. Marketing and recruiting will begin immediately after accreditation approval so the new campus location can open its doors in the fall of 2016. The key to early success will be the target marketing of DMA to a pre-qualified and accessible audiences already existing in Arizona high schools and community colleges along with key partnerships in both education and the media industry.
The City of Peoria will provide up to $1.875 million dollars of financial support for the HU DMA campus over the next three years. Huntington University will now pursue the critical next step of fundraising in the Peoria area for gap funding, following the public vote of confidence by the Peoria City Council.
The University will renovate partially constructed structures within the Arrowhead Innovation Campus in Peoria. The deal comes with a provision allowing Huntington to expand onto vacant land next door as its enrollment increases. The new campus location will occupy 15,000 square feet of space initially, with the goal of expanding into the remaining area within five years.