The City of Surprise and Rio Salado College’s Communiversity @ Surprise have earned a Desert Peaks Public/Private Partnership Award from the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG).
Located on the City Hall campus, the Communiversity @ Surprise brings together an occupational high school district, three community colleges and two universities in a single location. Communiversity students earn a variety of certificates or two and four year degrees. Graduate courses are also available, as are workforce development and high-school technical programs.
“This partnership supports the City Council’s goal of increasing higher education opportunities in Surprise,” says Interim City Manager Mark Coronado. “Educational opportunities make our City more competitive in attracting new businesses and jobs.”
“TheCommuniversity @ Surprise offers a new model for higher education," said Dr. Chris Bustamante, the Interim President at Rio Salado College. "Rio Salado College’s partnership with the City of Surprise is very innovative, and we are proud of this. We are the first community college in the United States to be located on a City Center. The Communiversity @ Surprise allows us to reach out to the community and offer higher education programs and pathways along with our educational partners. We are excited that students in the Surprise Region now have many higher education options available to them.”
The Communiversity @ Surprise opened in August 2009 and is already a national model for how public-private partnerships produce new and affordable educational opportunities. The 26,000 square foot Communiversity building was originally planned as the site for City Council Chambers and offices, but design changes led to an opportunity to create the innovative space, which includes “smart” classrooms and interactive counseling kiosks. The $8.5 million construction cost was paid by the City and later reimbursed by Maricopa Rio Salado College bond funds.
The City and the Communiversity jointly sponsor annual educational and community events at the City Hall campus, including the Surprise Youth Leadership Program and the recent Luke Air Force Base EIS hearings.
MAG’s annual Desert Peaks Awards “recognize individuals and partnerships that have demonstrated a commitment to regionalism through their cooperative efforts. By working together, local governments can solve common problems, proactively address concerns that affect all communities, and produce impressive results that strengthen both individual communities and the region.”
The award will be presented at MAG’s Desert Peaks Banquet in Phoenix on June 30.