Kearns: ASU campus at Havasu good news for MCC

KINGMAN - Mohave Community College President Dr. Michael Kearns on Friday congratulated the Havasu Foundation for Higher Education on the news that it has secured an agreement from Arizona State University to open a new four-year campus in Lake Havasu City.

According to a report in Lake Havasu's Today's News-Herald newspaper, the HFHE announced Thursday that ASU has agreed to open a campus on the grounds of the disused Daytona Middle School campus at 98 Swanson Plaza in Lake Havasu.

The agreement has a catch, however - before the campus can open, the foundation must first raise $2 million to go towards renovation costs and the first year of classes, with ASU footing the remaining $1.5 million cost.

That means it may still be several years before the campus does open, but MCC's Kearns is already excited at the possibilities a full-fledged four-year campus could bring to the community college.

"I don't really see it as any form of competition," Kearns said in an interview Friday. "This is a synergistic relationship. Half of our students are transfer-oriented, and this may fit their needs. They may not necessarily select ASU, but at least now they'll have something at home."

In a letter addressed to Steve Greeley, HFHE's president, Kearns noted that MCC already partners with ASU for lower division transfers, adding that a four-year campus in Mohave County would allow MCC to expand its transfer options.

"This new alliance will make it possible for MCC to further enhance the cooperative partnership that puts higher education within the reach of every citizen of Lake Havasu City and throughout Mohave County," he wrote. "Years of hard work and determination by many dedicated people have put this dream within your grasp and it is a great achievement."

According to the News-Herald, the HFHE has been working for seven years to get an ASU campus in Lake Havasu, though that time frame was actually substantially shorter than the 10 to 15 years one of the original foundation members believed it was going to take when the effort was first launched in 2004.

Kearns noted that, while Northern Arizona University has a presence on each MCC campus, its offerings are still limited to mostly online-only classes, with just a few in-person or "on-ground" classes, which are usually only available once enough people enroll for them. While a new ASU campus may not be able to initially offer every major MCC students are looking for, Kearns said he believes it would still greatly benefit those students who are looking to continue their education beyond the first two years.

"It will suffice the need of many folks who are looking for specific degrees, and (ASU) is picking degree paths that are popular and needed," he said. "I know one of them is in the area of education, and we've already been working with them to get a baccalaureate program. All we've been able to do so far is an on-line program, so this is great that now we have an on-ground component."

Despite the good news, however, Kearns said it is unlikely that MCC will be offering any direct assistance to the fundraising effort, since its funds must go to the college's own needs.

"These are taxpayer and tuition dollars that are assigned to us, so our cooperating process would be to help them along and to partner with them on curriculum," he said. "We expect also that faculty will need to be hired, and I'd assume that some of our faculty will be shared."