NAU-Yavapai signals new approach to higher education

New NAU-Yavapai campus

The grand opening of NAU-Yavapai in Prescott Valley on Oct. 10 heralds a new approach to earning a four-year college degree.

The Northern Arizona University and Yavapai College partnership breaks from the traditional models of course delivery to better serve Prescott Valley residents in their community.

“What you see here today is the future of higher education in Arizona,” Arizona Board of Regents President Ernest Calderón told about 300 people who attended the grand opening of the Prescott Valley Public Library and NAU-Yavapai, which occupies an adjoining wing.

“We can experiment and innovate in numerous and important ways,” NAU President John Haeger said of the partnership. Looking beyond conventional semesters, NAU-Yavapai will offer more flexible and accelerated course schedules. Students will be able to shift between classroom and online courses in five- or 10-week formats.

“This will allow students to progress as rapidly as possible to a baccalaureate degree,” he noted.

The NAU president said faculty from the university and Yavapai College will jointly design curricula for the 21st century. These could include degrees in business, entrepreneurship, sustainability policy, public service and health professions.

Yavapai College President Jim Horton acknowledged the shared space of the Prescott Valley Public Library and NAU-Yavapai saying, “The library is the heart of the city and also the heart of a university.”

The partnership, Horton said, is a regional project that could be even farther reaching. “Working with President Haeger, we will put together something here that will be a national model.”

Calderón said NAU-Yavapai will help the state double the number of baccalaureate degrees by 2020—a goal to help Arizona remain economically competitive with a skilled workforce. He also suggested that in a few years Haeger may seek independent branch campus status for NAU-Yavapai.

NAU-Yavapai houses five classrooms, a computer commons, seminar room, administrative offices and a student advising and registration area.

Also on hand as guest speakers for the grand opening of the Prescott Valley Public Library and NAU-Yavapai were Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Prescott Valley Mayor Harvey Skoog and Stuart Mattson, Prescott Valley’s library director.