Westminster College Pulls Out Of Mesa

April 22, 2014

A Missouri-based liberal arts college that opened a satellite campus in Mesa last fall announced it will leave Arizona after this school year. It’s the first failure in Mesa’s high-profile bid to boost access to higher education.

Westminster College Spokesman Rob Crouse says the satellite campus enrolled 26 students in its first year, but the prospects for growth in Mesa were not promising. 

"We're just not the right fit for each other," he said. "A number of wonderful colleges and universities have entered the Mesa area, and so as a small private nonprofit institution, we could only be so competitive and still be fiscally responsible."

Mesa’s effort to recruit a liberal arts hub downtown began in 2011. The idea was to bring fresh brain power into the city to spur economic growth. City Manager Chris Brady said now four schools remain, but Westminter's failure does not mean the city is oversaturated with schools.

"It’s unfortunate Westminster was not able to offer programs that attracted enough students," Brady said. "However it’s not the same experience we’re seeing with the other schools that are here. Benedictine University will be doubling the amount of students they had from last fall."

Benedictine has already asked about moving into the downtown space that Westminster is leaving, Brady said.  

For its part, Westminster is still trying to figure out what to do with its Arizona students and the six full-time staff that work here, Crouse said. Three of the staff members had moved to Arizona and will likely go back to Missouri. 

Updated 4/22/2014 at 5:06 p.m.