The CSU System is adding a fourth campus, in addition to Fort Collins, Pueblo and CSU Global Campus. Beginning in Jan. 2014, CSU classes will be offered in South Metro Denver.
The first classes offered will be part of an engineering master’s degree program through CSU Fort Collins, with plans for undergraduate degree offerings in business and nursing. The number of courses and degrees offered will likely increase based on community demand.
“The efforts to expand into the South Metro region are being spearheaded by the CSU System office, and … it’s leveraging the resources of all three CSU System institutions,” said Kyle Henley, CSU Denver Director of Public Relations.
According to Henley, CSU South Metro Denver is still in the beginning stages of development. A new campus will not be built in Denver like the campuses in Fort Collins or Pueblo but will be based off a different model entirely — it will not have a physical campus, at least in the beginning.
“That’s the model that we’re looking at initially,” Henley said. “I think we said a time frame of somewhere around 3-5 years down the road, would we move forward with building a building down there.”
Michael Martin, the CSU Systems Chancellor, said that this project was approached with a focus on collaboration. In addition to utilizing resources from CSU’s existing campuses, CSU South Metro Denver will also be working with other Denver universities such as CU Denver, Regis and Arapahoe Community College.
Martin said that the South Denver Metro community has worked together to express that this extension of CSU is something necessary in that area.
“This is what great land grant universities do,” Martin said. “They respond, I believe, to the needs of the community, when the community steps up and says, ‘We want you more present.’”
Martin also said that this project will start small, and expand as demand increases.
“We don’t want to predispose ourselves to anything, but rather listen to the local drumbeat and hopefully, do what’s in the best interest of the folks down there,” Martin said.
CSU South Metro Denver’s first step will be to embed itself within Denver companies, offering courses to office staff and business professionals. In some cases, this may even involve teaching courses at companies’ corporate headquarters.
The target student community will be business professionals and individuals who cannot leave their Denver homes, possibly due to financial reasons or a job that they cannot give up. CSU South Metro Denver will also be a viable option for those who have first attended a few years at a Denver community college and desire to pursue further education.
Ajay Menon, Dean of CSU Fort Collins’ College of Business, assisted in spearheading this expansion. According to Menon, business is one of the first majors to be offered at this new location because CSU Fort Collins has the best business school in the state and one of the best in the country.
Megan Bush, a sophomore business major, said that the CSU Fort Collins business college is full of great teachers and valuable classes — she understands why business courses would be relevant at a new campus in Denver.
“I definitely think that business is super versatile,” Bush said. “At least from what I’ve seen, it’s a really good program. All of the teachers I’ve had in the business school are amazing, and all of the information has been super interesting, and it’s definitely relatable.”
Menon said that there is not an exact plan laid out as to what exactly this program will look like, but that there will be a combination of online courses and in-person courses. CSU South Metro Denver will also likely partner with local community colleges. CSU’s Fort Collins business school is prepared for both, having had experience with long-distance teaching.
“We have the technology and the expertise to do that,” Menon said. “(The business school already has) an MBA at a distance, and we are in 32 different countries.”
A CSU business school and the South Metro Denver area are then a good match according to Menon, because an extension of the business school will meet a need in that area.
“(South Metro Denver) is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state of Colorado. It has very high growth in corporate development and companies … also, there isn’t a major university that is located in that space. After DU located on University there, you look down and there is no institution of higher education,” Menon said. “There is a market to be had, and a market to be served.”
Martin agreed that there is a need to be met in South Metro Denver that will hopefully be filled by expanding the CSU System.
“(For this project), I’m more of a cheerleader than anything else, but I do think that it’s a game worth cheering for,” Martin said. “Students are different than they used to be, and they can’t all afford to, or find the time to, or want to come to a traditional campus. We hope many still will — but if they can’t come to the campus, we intend to take the campus to them, and that is this is about.”
Collegian Reporter Ellie Mulder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.