Thursday, February 20, 2014

Changing the Landscape of Higher Education

The Town of Queen Creek was once considered the far reaching outskirts of Phoenix, but this small town oasis – now a thriving east valley community – embraces its ranching and mining heritage while carefully watching over its growth and development. Business and town leaders seek to preserve the Town’s family-friendly, small-town spirit while providing economic opportunities and a high quality of life for residents.

In an effort to provide higher educational options and strengthen the economy, the Town of Queen Creek has partnered with the Maricopa Community Colleges, Rio Salado College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Northern Arizona University, Ottawa University and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences together to create the Communiversity at Queen Creek.

This unique facility is located in Queen Creek town center and brings together these five higher education institutions under one roof to provide nearby residents with program pathways close to home. These pathways were identified through academic and occupational needs assessments of the Queen Creek area by ESI Corporation and Hanover Research Council. These assessments identified business-management, early childhood education, engineering, healthcare, and information technology among the fastest growing industries in the region.

In a recent report by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), in just four years, 63 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education. In addition, it is projected that there will be a shortage of nearly 8 million workers to fill these jobs. A national push has occurred, not only about the need to increase the number of college graduates, but that colleges, government, business and community leaders must think innovatively about how best to accomplish this. Improving access through partnerships like the Communiversity is just one way to help decrease the college graduate deficit and increase access for all students.

College can seem out-of-reach for many people for a variety of reasons. The Communiversity can help address the barriers of distance, time and cost. With online and hybrid options along with in-person classes close to home, students who have work and family obligations can fit college into their busy schedule. In addition, tuition costs can be reduced through the Communiversity’s 2+2 and 3+1 articulation programs that allow students to transfer between 60 and 90 credits (of a 120 credit degree) from the community college to the university. Having the community colleges and the universities housed under one roof will also aid students in coordinating academic advising as they transfer from one institution to another.

In addition to offering college certificate, associate, bachelor and master’s degree programs for those seeking professional development or entering a new career, The Communiversity will partner with local employers to provide workforce training. East Valley residents now have convenient access to a quality higher education in Queen Creek town center.

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The Communiversity at Queen Creek opened its doors in January, and plans to offer classes later this year. The facility offers academic advising, tutoring, counseling and testing services by appointment. The Communiversity at Queen Creek is the second innovative facility of its kind in the Phoenix-metro area (Communiversity at Surprise opened in 2009) aimed at changing the landscape of higher education in Arizona and the United States.

The Communiversity at Queen Creek is located at 21740 S. Ellsworth Road, Queen Creek, AZ 85142. For more information, call 480-384-9300, email CommuniversityQC@riosalado.edu, or visit http://www.riosalado.edu/locations/commu-queencreek/Pages/default.aspx.
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