On January 12, 2017, a town hall meeting was held in the Fourth Floor Boardroom at 9am to discuss the future of SXU at Gilbert, AZ.
SXU at Gilbert opened on August 4th, 2015. It is said that students from the town of Gilbert ran out of university options after finishing community college, since there is a limited university presence in the town. Hence the town showed interest in opening a university -to satisfy the needs of the community. However, after shortly a year of the opening, SXU at Gilbert is officially coming to an end.
“The stars simply did not align’ in Gilbert in a way that permitted the University to produce the desired outcomes. Once this became clear, we moved with all deliberate speed to limit further investment of campus resources in this initiative. I could not be more pleased that, with the execution of the exit agreement, the campus and the Board are now better positioned to focus on the strategic issues facing the Chicago campus,” said Timothy Trahey, SXU Board Chair, in a statement.
SXU agreed to pay $4 million to close both the campus at Gilbert and the lease from the construction of the building. After SXU announced on May 2016 about the closing of the campus, Gilbert began looking for a tenant, possibly another higher-education institution. The tenant would pay off the remaining debt from the SXU building lease which is a total amount of $37 million.
“Gilbert is confident that another higher-education institution will occupy the university building in the Heritage District and enhance the educational opportunities for residents of Gilbert and in the region,” said town attorney Michael Hamblin in a statement provided to The Republic.
An SXU student who decided to remain anonymous stated her concerns regarding the situation. “The closing of the campus in Gilbert did not really make a difference to me. I thought it was a little irresponsible to open up a campus in Arizona since money is already tight, so I don’t know how we’d get that money back.”
During the townhall meeting it was also said that, with this closing, SXU will focus more on its school mission, student success, and the growth of the institution.
“With the termination of the Gilbert site, we have removed the sustained financial investment and risks associated with the start-up of a new academic site. We are also now better positioned to invest and deploy university resources – person power, intellectual capital, and finances – into the Chicago campus,” said president Joyner in an interview with the Xavierite.
In addition, president Joyner explained the strategies she would employ to help save more money for the school and improve the student and faculty experience. “I am spending most of my time listening and learning from students, faculty, and staff members. It’s important that the strategies that we pursue are informed by the concerns and the wisdom of the community. Based on what I’m hearing, I suspect that we will engage in the following strategies early in my tenure: a) articulating the distinctiveness of the SXU experience; b) creating new academic programs to better meet the changing needs and interests of students and the community; c) implementing a comprehensive strategic enrollment management initiative; d) identifying innovative initiatives across the institution to contain costs and/or generate new or additional revenue.”
As for the SXU campus at Orland Park, president Joyner said the property would remain on the market as it has been before she began her presidency in early 2017. However, that would change if a “viable program emerges to justify keeping the property,” since it’s in the market because it’s considered an “under-utilized asset.”
SXU in Gilbert offered degrees in Liberal Arts, Business and Nursing for undergraduate students. Additionally, Masters of Arts in Education, Masters of Business Administration, and Masters of Science in Nursing were the options for graduate students. SXU is working closely with the students affected by the decision at the Gilbert location. According to AZ Central, the majority of the 25 students who enrolled at SXU in Gilbert decided to continue with SXU by taking online classes to finish their degree; while other students chose to transfer to a different university as well.
Senior News Editor