Former Thunderbird School Campus To Be Taken Over By Arizona Christian University

By Casey Kuhn, Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 5:06pm
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 2:13pm
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Casey Kuhn/KJZZ
Arizona Christian University plans to open their campus in Glendale at the former Thunderbird school site.

The former Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale is getting a new university tenant.

It’s a higher education real estate shuffle: Arizona Christian University is moving from Northeast Phoenix to the former Thunderbird campus.

In exchange, ASU will get Arizona Christian’s northeast Phoenix campus.

The private, nonprofit university began in 1960 and was most recently called Southwestern College until the name changed to ACU in 2011, after former Arizona politician Len Munsil became president.

ASU is giving almost 69 acres of the 140-acre site to ACU.

The Glendale location will help Arizona Christian attract more students, according to President Munsil. The old campus was at capacity.

“It undermines your ability to retain students, to have the community/life experience," Munsil said about lack of on-campus housing. "And here, immediately, we’ll be able to get 500 students on campus, maybe more.”

Arizona Christian’s old site in northeast Phoenix won’t stay with ASU for long. ASU President Michael Crow said they plan to sell the land for development.

When Arizona State University announced it would move the Thunderbird School of Management from Glendale to downtown Phoenix, it was a surprise to many.

"I'll be honest, it was a shock and I know for a fact that many of us were disappointed to hear it, I know I was incredibly disappointed," Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said. "But I also respected ASU's decision and I recognized we needed to get busy to shape a new vision for this location."

ASU plans to sell the remaining acres of the former Thunderbird location for development as well.

Those funds, Crow said, will help the Thunderbird school move to Phoenix. 

Crow said the swap will also help Arizona Christian become a larger presence in local higher education.

”And, to become an even deeper and more embedded part of this great community of Glendale and Greater Phoenix and Greater Arizona," Crow said. "So for us, this was a project that was the best possible outcome for this site.”

The private, nonprofit university continues to grow and plans to have more than 800 students starting at the new Glendale campus starting next school year.

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