NAU-Yuma will mark its 20th anniversary Feb. 22 by celebrating a successful past and planning for an innovative future.

Northern Arizona University President John Haeger will lead a Town Hall discussion on “The Role of the University in Regional Economic Development,” and a community block party with food and music will feature booths highlighting faculty and student research projects.

The Town Hall will begin at 7:30 a.m. in St. Paul’s Cultural Center, 645 S. Second Ave., Yuma. The public is invited to participate in the discussion. The community-wide anniversary celebration runs from 4 to 10:30 p.m. on Main Street.

“This is a great opportunity for NAU and the Yuma community to come together to celebrate our successes,” said Krista Rodin, associate vice president and campus executive officer of NAU-Yuma. “The support we’ve received from the Yuma area over the past 20 years is nothing short of phenomenal, and we are looking forward to the next 20 years.”

In addition to Haeger, the Town Hall panel is expected to include Chris Camacho, president and CEO of Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp; Toni Badone, superintendent of Yuma Union High School District; Emma Torres, executive director of Campesinos Sin Fronteras; Bob McLendon, newly appointed member of the Arizona Board of Regents; Harry Hengl, owner of Western Financial and a member of the NAU Foundation board of directors; and Don Schoening, president of Arizona Western College.

Music, entertainment and food will be available throughout the evening celebration. Research projects from faculty and students will be on display, demonstrating the positive impact NAU-Yuma has had on the greater Yuma community throughout the 20-year partnership.

NAU-Yuma has been serving the southwestern Arizona and southeastern California communities since 1988. NAU-Yuma’s partnerships with Arizona Western College and Imperial Valley College provide students a direct path to complete four-year professional degree programs.

NAU-Yuma offers undergraduate and graduate courses in a growing number of fields, including biology, business, criminal justice, education, environmental science, nursing, psychology, sociology, social work and Spanish.

“Our partnership with Arizona Western College is very important,” Haeger said. “It makes a great deal of sense that the community college and the university cooperate to provide a full range of programs, from a four-year baccalaureate degree to master’s and doctoral degrees in the Yuma community.”

The Arizona Board of Regents officially has designated NAU-Yuma as a branch campus for the Flagstaff-based institution. The designation means that the university intends to increase its investments there, Haeger explained.

“For example, we’re going to be breaking ground this spring on a new facility—a research building—on our NAU-Yuma/AWC campus,” he said. “For Yuma it simply means more programs, more students, more work force preparation.”

The campus has been designated a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education, which will allow NAU-Yuma to apply for federal funding and offer more programs designed for the population of the Yuma area.

“We’re talking to the Yuma Proving Ground in terms of an engineering program in cooperation also with Arizona Western College,” Haeger said. “We also have a new nursing program in conjunction with the Yuma Regional Medical Center, and we’re looking at additional programs we would be able to offer in Yuma, so we can better serve that population.”

For information about the celebrations or NAU-Yuma, visit www.yuma.nau.edu.