Gov. Jan Brewer visited the NAU-Yavapai campus Friday, meeting with NAU President John Haeger, Yavapai College President Jim Horton, Prescott Valley civic and business leaders, board members from Yavapai College and local school district superintendents.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick visited the campus and met with another contingent of local educational and community leaders.
Both Brewer and Kirkpatrick threw their backing to NAU-Yavapai, which is part of Haeger and Horton’s plans to deliver affordable and accessible bachelor’s degrees to the citizens of Arizona.
“This is visionary,” Brewer said. “It sets an example for the entire state and the nation.” Pointing around the room, Brewer added, “And these are the visionaries. These are the people who said, ‘We can do this.’”
Kirkpatrick called NAU-Yavapai a dream come true. “This is what we should be doing,” the congresswoman said. “This is a model project.”
Brewer and Kirkpatrick were referring to NAU’s partnership with Yavapai College, through which students will be able to earn bachelor’s degrees in a system that is truly unique among Arizona’s public institutions. NAU-Yavapai will offer structured programs that will continue throughout the year.
NAU-Yavapai is the first visible sign of the Arizona Board of Regents and governor’s call to revise the current structure, or architecture, of the university system. The intent is to offer students lower-cost options to obtaining baccalaureate degrees.
Beginning in the fall, NAU-Yavapai will offer three degree programs: community development and sustainability; entrepreneurship; and service industry management.
“We will offer very structured programs with limited choice, but all your courses will count toward your degree,” Haeger said. “We will have classes running 12 months a year instead of a semester system. Students can go as fast as they want.”
Because of its structure, NAU-Yavapai will cost considerably less than the research universities in Arizona. It is hoped that NAU-Yavapai will have a student population of between 3,000 and 5,000 in 10 years.
“Affordability has long been a big stumbling block for attracting students into higher education,” Kirkpatrick said. “NAU-Yavapai offers quality in a community setting for less. With models of higher education like this, we can remain competitive in the global market.”
Haeger, Horton and city officials also see the institution as an economic boon to the region. Food service would be outsourced, and city officials see increased use of restaurants, apartments, hotels and entertainment areas. Some day, city officials say, student housing could be constructed by private firms.
“If we’re successful with this experiment, if it grows to a reasonable size, it will mean lots of jobs for area residents,” Haeger said.
NAU-Yavapai sits adjacent to the Prescott Valley Library on land donated by the Fain Signature Group. Currently it is offering a few courses but will welcome its first freshman class in the fall.
New partnership in Prescott smoothes path to bachelor’s degree
|Another Northern Arizona University project in the Prescott area also is designed to increase access to higher education.
The university recently announced another partnership in Prescott with Yavapai College that provides students a seamless transition from the community college experience to earning an NAU bachelor’s degree.
The YC2NAU program provides students with tailored and collaborative advising to put them on the right track for an eventual NAU graduation. The focused advising of YC2NAU offers a cost-effective path toward the same high-quality bachelor’s degree available to those starting at the university as a freshman. Students who recently started in the program are already on the path to earning degrees.
The program is similar to NAU’s partnership with Coconino Community College, called CCC2NAU.
Benefits from both programs include admission to NAU with a waived application fee, advising from academic advisors at both institutions, library privileges at both institutions, an NAU e-mail address and access to many programs, services and events and a free, online first-year-experience course that helps students navigate university resources and systems.
“Universities and community colleges traditionally have seen themselves in competition with each other,” said NAU President John Haeger. “In a sense, the education system has to rearrange and restructure itself…and show students, ‘you can move to a baccalaureate degree, and it’s essential for your future.'”