Northern Arizona University and the Maricopa County Community College District signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday allowing NAU to develop a physical presence on all 10 Maricopa campuses.

“This agreement further demonstrates Northern Arizona University’s commitment to bringing affordable and accessible higher education to all of Arizona,” said NAU President John Haeger. “The Maricopa County Community College District and Northern Arizona University have had a long and successful partnership, and we’re excited for the future.”

NAU has been delivering distance education programs to Maricopa County for more than a quarter of a century, but the memorandum of understanding will solidify and formalize many of the programs and offerings now available. Additionally, it will be the beginning of several planned programs in the county.

“We are pleased to formally enter into this partnership with Northern Arizona University,” said Rufus Glasper, chancellor of the Maricopa County Community College District. “This memorandum of understanding ensures the availability and accessibility of quality programs and further opens the opportunities for transfer of Maricopa Community College students to NAU.”

NAU has offices and programs at Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Phoenix and Chandler-Gilbert community colleges and will have a faculty office at Glendale Community College when its bachelor’s degree in speech communication is offered in the fall. The university also offers online and in-person programs at Estrella Mountain, Gateway and South Mountain community colleges.

The new memorandum of understanding opens the door to a stronger presence throughout the county, including the planned fall opening of a modular building on the South Mountain campus and an office at Mesa’s Downtown campus.

The growth in Maricopa County is especially impressive. Nearly 2,400 students take classes at sites throughout Maricopa County. Fully one-third of NAU’s enrollment is in distance courses.

“The phenomenal growth we’re seeing reflects the changing face of Arizona’s higher education students,” said Fred Hurst, vice president for Extended Learning and dean of Distance Learning. “NAU is first and foremost a residential undergraduate institution, but distance learning is an enormously important part of our mission.”

Through on-site courses, web classes, satellite broadcasts and strong partnerships with community colleges, NAU continues to expand across the state. It’s the greatest expansion since NAU’s Distance Learning began under then-President Eugene Hughes in the early 1980s.

In fact, part of the university’s latest strategy is the “NAU Promise,” which states that the university will establish traditional classroom bachelor’s degree programs at any location in the state that enrolls 25 students or more in a cohort.

For a complete listing of plans for Maricopa and Pima counties, click here.