Westminster College to close Mesa campus

Westminster College announces it will close its Mesa, Ariz. campus, effective at the end of the spring 2014 semester, responding to lower-than-expected enrollment and market demand at that location.

Westminster entered into a partnership with the City of Mesa in 2012, following a call by the city to attract liberal arts colleges to the under-served, rapidly growing area, a press release prepared by the college states. After market assessment, Westminster joined with three other liberal arts institutions to offer educational services in Mesa to undergraduate students.

“Three years ago, Westminster saw both the need in Mesa and the opportunity for a great partnership with the City,” President Barney Forsythe stated in the release. “Since that time a number of wonderful colleges and universities have entered Mesa and the Valley of the Sun, and Westminster — as a small, private, non-profit institution — could only be so competitive and still fiscally responsible in this ever-developing, active market.”

Westminster is working with the Higher Learning Commission to develop a plan to assist its current Mesa campus students so they may continue their education and working on a plan to help Mesa faculty and staff make a smooth transition.

A small, private, not-for-profit institution with a 163-year history, Westminster welcomed students to its Mesa campus for the first time in the fall of 2013. The college continued to re-assess, adjust its offering, and adapt as the number of colleges and universities increased in the developing Phoenix-Mesa marketplace.

Projections for next fall’s enrollment do not anticipate significant gains for Westminster, prompting the decision to authorize the close the Mesa campus by the College’s Board of Trustees, following a recommendation from Forsythe. The board has been active in oversight of the college’s Mesa expansion throughout the venture’s development.

According to a statement released today by Westminster Board of Trustees Chairman Wallace Head, Westminster opened its Mesa campus as a strategy to implement a key aspect of the college’s Strategic Plan 2020.

“(The Board of Trustees) remains committed to continuing to develop and implement new educational and other ventures that are consistent with the College’s Strategic Plan 2020,” Head said in the statement.

The Mesa campus was the first-ever campus expansion for the Fulton-based college, established in 1851.

This spring, the college began a major research initiative in order to identify potential areas for growth and will present its findings to the board later this year.

“Mesa reflects our commitment to stay proactive in an ever-changing world, and we’ve learned through the experience,” Forsythe said. “We will continue to pursue new ways to innovate and serve our community — both local and global — with the exceptional educational experience for which Westminster has been known for the past 163 years.”

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