St. Xavier University

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St. Xavier University has opened its first campus outside of Chicago for the first time in its 170 history. The new campus is located in Gilbert. St. Xavier is also working on a partnership with Arizona State University that would allow students to take courses at each institution. St. Xavier University president Dr. Christine Wiseman will talk about the opening of the new university in Gilbert.

TED SIMONS: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon" a nearly 200-year-old university opens a satellite campus in the valley. Also tonight we'll hear about efforts to preserve historic buildings at the state fairgrounds and we'll visit with a "New York Times" best-selling science fiction writer. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

VIDEO: "Arizona Horizon" made possible by contributions from the friends of 8, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

TED SIMONS: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons two separate groups of bounty hunters are being questioned after mistakenly attempting to raid the home of Phoenix police Chief Joseph Yahner. The Arizona Republic reports that the incident occurred about 10:00 last night after the fugitive recovering agencies received false information that a fugitive was hiding at the police chief's address. The owner of one of the agencies was arrested this morning on charges of criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct. Arizona State University ICE hockey today announced a partnership with the Arizona Coyotes which calls for the ASU team playing at Glendale's Gila River Arena for four games during the season and hosting the division one hockey tournament, the first of its kinds for the valley.

GREG POWERS: To partner with such a great organization that's committed to hockey in the valley is a special opportunity. They could easily have turned their nose to the whole thing. They have welcomed us and embraced us with open arms. It speaks volumes to the character of the ownership group currently in charge.

TED SIMONS: The rest of the hockey season will be played at Oceanside ICE arena in Tempe. St. Xavier University is an historic Chicago-based university that opened its first satellite campus in girl Bert, Arizona. It's also working to warn with ASU on a plan that would allow students to take courses at each university. Joining us is the president of St. Xavier University Dr. Christine Wiseman. Welcome.

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: Thank you very much for the opportunity.

TED SIMONS: Welcome to Arizona. Describe Saint Xavier University for us.

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: It's nearly 170 years old. It's the oldest Catholic institution of higher education in the city of Chicago. It's the oldest of 17 mercy institutions across the United States. And it's now the first higher education institution in the town of Gilbert.

TED SIMONS: Interesting, and founded by the sisters of mercy in 1846. What part of Chicago are you based in?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: We're on 103 and Pulaski, which is the demarcation of the southwest corner of the city of Chicago.

TED SIMONS: How many students in general do you have in Chicago?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: In Chicago we have about 4400 students, about 3,000 undergraduate students and the others are graduate students who either attends classes or attends online.

TED SIMONS: This sounds like an historic university. Figure out how to do things a long time ago, probably doing them pretty well. Why expand and why expand to Gilbert, Arizona?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: Well actually, initially it was not planned. It was the result of an offer to make contacts by a business faculty member who was then employed at St. Xavier University who had professional contacts and I think even a brother who was professionally occupied in Gilbert, Arizona. Knew the goal of Gilbert to bring private faith-based higher education institution to the town itself.

TED SIMONS: So when talks initiated, was it just a hello how are you kind of thing or were both sides pretty interested from the get-go?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: Initially we had a conference call to see whether this was an opportunity that was viable, whether it was an opportunity we would pursue because it was both appropriate for us and, you know, appropriate to the town. And so we had that initial conversation. Then we met in 2012 at the town offices. I think we met for a period of four or five hours to talk about various aspects that would result in some mutuality. I think we came away really, really liking the town, liking the people that we had met. We also found that there was a mutuality in what they sought in faith-based higher education and the needs of their own townspeople.

TED SIMONS: It's almost sounds in some ways serendipitous.

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: I would say. It was obviously when you are 170-year-old institution, that began serving the needs of populations that were historically under-served it's not something that you consider doing initially.

TED SIMONS: talk more about that because I know the majority of your students in Chicago now first generation and minorities?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: First generation. 61% first generation. If we look at our applicants for our first year entering class they are 48% Hispanic and Spanish speaking students. They are about 15% African-American. They are about 30% white and then there are 2% Asian. We have an additional two or 3% who are of many ethnicities.

TED SIMONS: is that a point of emphasis or just evolution?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: I think it is the evolution that comes with a mission of bringing higher education to under-served populations. In 1846 they were women and girls who otherwise had no access to higher education, now of course you know for the first time in history I think women are the largest majority in the work force of the 21st century. And so it began with women and girls and it has continued to serve the needs of an under-served population. That's our mission. Our mission is to create people who understand the need for serving the community as well.

TED SIMONS: Can that mission transfer to a relatively wealthy suburb of Phoenix, Arizona?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: you know, I think it can. I think from what we have seen the population and from the response that we have had to our presence among all constituencies in and around the town of Arizona, the town of Gilbert, we have seen that people are really interested, very interested. They send inquiries to us. They have now made efforts to tour the new building.

TED SIMONS: That new building four story building right in downtown Gilbert.

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: Right in the historic district.

TED SIMONS: plans for expansion?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: Not immediately. But as the population of our students develops, as their needs develop, we will make those decisions long term with the town of Gilbert.

TED SIMONS: you mentioned a population of students. How many do you expect? This is the first year, classes just starting. What are you thinking now and what are you thinking in the future?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: we have an enrollment plan, part of the development plan that we negotiated with the town of Gilbert. Any time you bring a new institution of different dimensions to a community it's going take some time to know and acclimate to that institution and the offerings. There were many people initially who did not know St. Xavier University. We have an enrollment plan that probably will call for 50 to 75 students this first year but by year 6 we expect to fill that building with 550 graduate and undergraduate students.

TED SIMONS: MY goodness. And again, academic emphasis, nursing, education --

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: Business.

TED SIMONS: Are those the big three?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: and professional studies. We will begin with degree completion programs in business and professional studies, which is located within our college of arts and sciences, and then we hope in August to expand to - August of 2016 to expand to a pre-licensure pre-graduate program in nursing and we're bringing graduate programs in education. These are programs that have already proven to be very successful particularly for the populations we serve.

TED SIMONS: We should mention as well that Gilbert now owned that building. They will lease it to you.

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: It will.

TED SIMONS: you're okay with that?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: Yes, we are. You know, that was the original agreement. It was Gilbert's initiative to bring higher education. I think not only as a learning institution but also as a community resource. But they worked with us to find state of the art needs, what we would need for a state-of-the-art nursing program or education programs. Then they worked to build that building to those specifications.

TED SIMONS: It sounds like ASU is willing to work with you as well. Talk to us about that.

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: it's quite exciting. But we not only have ASU, we also have the colleges of Maricopa County working with us at transfer and completion programs. But our relationship with ASU began I think when representatives of ASU came to those initial meetings at which I would present, you know, the vision for St. Xavier university and the joint vision for the town of Gilbert and St. Xavier university and from that Dr. Michael Crow back in 2013 issued an invitation to me to appear at a panel discussion, it was a dinner discussion, at the Penn club of New York. He and I did a lot of talking both before and after that. During that panel discussion, we found that there was a lot of mutuality in the student population that we were serving and the programs that we had.

TED SIMONS: The fact that ASU has the polytechnic in Mesa, they've got the main campus in Tempe, you're a little triangle in the middle in Gilbert, not a problem?

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: No. You know, I also serve on the Illinois board of higher education and need to tell you that we have nine public institutions across 12 campuses and 97 private, independent institutions that are not for profit in the state of Illinois. We always say we have to work collaboratively to meet the needs of the community and the populations that they serve. So it's really not a question of numbers.

TED SIMONS: I was going to say it's going to feel like a wide open west. Welcome to Arizona. Congratulations and good luck. Thank you for being here.

CHRISTINE WISEMAN: Thank you so much.

Dr. Christine Wiseman:President of St. Xavier University

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