Peoria Campus Leader Jeff Berggren Talks Moving Forward After City Council Meeting
Jeff Berggren, Huntington University’s campus manager for the planned Peoria location, talks about moving forward after a city council meeting.
- The Peoria City Council has approved a branch campus of Huntington University in Peoria
- The campus will focus on digital media arts and offer five degree programs
- City hopes Huntington will help establish a digital media industry in Peoria
A university focused on digital media arts is coming to Peoria, with classes slated to begin as early as spring 2016.
The Peoria City Council gave final approval June 7 for Huntington University to develop a branch campus in Peoria after three years of discussions with the Indiana-based university. The campus will be located in the Arrowhead Innovation Center, south of Bell Road near 87th Avenue, and will be the first college in Arizona to focus on digital media arts.
“We are thrilled with the confidence the city has shown in the university,” said Jeff Berggren, Peoria campus manager for Huntington. “The university feels that even though it took us three years to get here, things have aligned where we have the right program, the right partners and now the right parameters moving forward. and move on.”
The private Christian university will be the second university established in the city after Trine University, which is also based in Indiana. Huntington originally planned to develop nursing, exercise science, kinesiology, and digital media arts programs in Peoria.
RELATED: Trine University campus awaits first class from Peoria
After re-evaluating which programs would best serve the city, Huntington decided to launch only the digital media arts program.
There is already a large target audience for the program, Berggren said. Each year, thousands of Arizona high school students graduate with media or visual arts experience through the state Department of Education‘s Career and Technical Education program.
Within Peoria high schools, the university is working to establish a dual enrollment system with the sports media program, the Peoria Student Broadcasting Network, so that students can earn college credits while in high school.
Charles Kar, owner of the Arrowhead Innovation Campus, plans to turn his facility into a digital media hub, housing the Huntington campus as well as companies involved in film production, digital rights management, advertising, audio engineering and other media-related areas.
“While all of these students are graduates in digital media arts, what companies are looking for when setting up shop in a community is where they’re going to find their workforce,” he said. -he declares. “A whole industry could be created for Peoria and the Valley around film and media.”
The secondary campus will offer degrees in broadcast fusion media, film production, graphic design, digital animations and web development. The university must still obtain accreditation from the Commission on Higher Education and the Arizona State Council for Private Post-Secondary Education before classes can begin.
Huntington planned a soft launch in the spring of 2016, offering classes to transfer community college students and dual enrollment for Peoria high school students. The grand opening is scheduled for fall 2016.
The university plans to admit at least 100 post-high school students in its first year, then increase enrollment to as many as 500 students over the next three to five years. Huntington will be a commuter-based campus, so there will be no dorms or college housing.
Tuition prices will be kept near those of state universities, costing about $350 to $375 per credit hour, according to Berggren.
Peoria has developed an economic development agreement with Huntington and will reimburse the university up to nearly $1.9 million over three years if certain milestones are met, such as obtaining accreditation, enrolling in ‘at least 100 students and the submission of financial reports.
“Digital media arts is quite an expensive program to launch, which I think is probably why people aren’t looking for it so much,” Berggren said. “Without the economic agreement and the partnership of the city, it is unlikely that this [branch campus] would be possible.”
Although Huntington is starting with a curriculum, Berggren said nursing, exercise science and kinesiology are not out of place and will look to expand into other areas of study once that the Peoria campus will have a few years of development.
Berggren hopes to receive accreditation for degrees in digital media arts by the end of this year so the university can begin the admissions process.