For the first time since it was founded 160 years ago, Westminster College in Fulton plans to open a second campus.
The new campus will be located in Mesa, Ariz., the nation's 38th largest city.
During a press briefing in Arizona Monday, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said the city contacted about 1,000 liberal arts colleges around the nation asking them to open a second campus in Mesa.
The list was narrowed to 12 colleges as finalists and ultimately Westminster was chosen as the college desired by the city.
With a population of 437,041, Mesa has more residents than such cities as St. Louis, Atlanta and Miami. Mesa is a bedroom community of Phoenix, located 20 miles east.
Smith said the city of Mesa is offering to lease space in the Mesa Center for Higher Education complex to Westminster to start the campus in the downtown area. He hopes the college located there will revitalize the downtown, which he said is not thriving.
Mesa has 30,000 students enrolled in two community junior college districts in the city area and about 10,000 students at the Arizona State Polytechnic campus in Mesa, which is part of Arizona State University based at Tempe.
"We need a good liberal arts college and we believe Westminster is a good fit for us," Smith said.
Westminster President Barney Forsythe said the Arizona campus also will be a good opportunity for Westminster students in Fulton to have the opportunity to experience life in a large metropolitan area during possible internships and other specialized courses taken at Mesa.