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How We Got Here: The History of HU

October 6, 2016 General

by Jeff Berggren, Huntington University Director of Arizona Operations. (Published in The Filmstrip, October 2016 edition.)

 
How did a small non-profit Christian liberal arts university in Indiana end up locating an educational site in Peoria, Arizona?

It started with a May 2012 conversation between the president of Trine University (also located here in Peoria) and the president of Huntington  University (located in Indiana) after a meeting regarding existing collaboration between the two universities. That led to a June 2012 conference call with leadership from the City of Peoria and shortly thereafter the first official visit from a HU team to Peoria in August of 2012.

The intial program of interest to the City of Peoria was nursing, but as the conversation between HU and Peoria progressed it became clear to both parties that HU’s unique and growing programs in Digital Media Arts would be a stronger place to start. DMA is a STEM discipline that also pulls in Art to make it a STEAM program with a broader reach for students and also economic development for Peoria. The other major influence was the presence of the CTE Media Program in Arizona and the very impressive way the Peoria Unified School District had embraced media.

Of particular interest to HU was the excellent and rapidly expanding Peoria Student Broadcasting Network. When media students graduate from PUSD they are looking for a university to continue that hands on approach to digital media, so it made sense to everyone to provide the opportunity to them right here in their hometown.

The search for a location in the city limits of Peoria did take several months, but the perfect building in the perfect location with the perfect amount of student amenities eventually emerged in the former Dolce Salon and Spa building. After a major five month renovation, the building is no longer home to fuzzy velour wallpaper and chandeliers of every size and color but rather the latest in digital media technology, equipment, labs and studios.

The first class of digital media “Pioneers” started classes the last week in August and are blazing the proverbial trail for many other students from around the Phoenix area, the state of Arizona and the Southwest region who will join and/or follow them. Props to you Pioneers because not only are you doing fantastic work together in a very short time, but you get the faculty and staff very excited about what is to come!

 

Timeline of Events:

• August 2012 – 1st Visit by HU Team to Peoria

• April 2013 – Board of Trustees approves Peoria Initiative (reviewed & reaffirmed in October of 2014)

• July 2014 – HU administer Jeff Berggren moves to Peoria in consultant role for Peoria Initiative

• September 2014 – HU signs short term lease for office space at potential location in Arrowhead Business Park

• July 2015 -EDA between HU and Peoria approved the City Council

• December 2015 – Long Term Lease signed for current HU Center for Digital Media Arts building

• January 2016 – Transfer partnership MOU signed with Maricopa Community College District

• February 2016 – Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education approval of HU license application

• March 2016 – Higher Learning Commission approval of HU AZ as additional location

• May 2016 – Department of Education gives approval for federal financial aid for AZ location

• June 2016 – HU awarded City Manager’s Award at Annual Peoria Chamber of Commerce Banquet

• August 2016 – First day of classes for AZ DMA students!

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by Phil Wilson, Program Director and Lead Film Faculty. (Published in The Filmstrip, April 2017 edition.)   Rule: teaching a group of creative young people requires you yourself to be… well, creative. One of the things I love about teaching is that it continually forces you to dream, invent, and design …

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