The University of Dubuque will expand its footprint next year with a campus in Idaho.
School officials plan to open a location for their adult accelerated degree program in Boise in time for fall 2020, marking the second time UD has opened an out-of-state location for the LIFE program.
“(Boise) is growing,” UD President Jeffrey Bullock said. “It’s a big tech area, but it’s also a rural, kind of blue-collar ... community, which is what we like about Dubuque.”
Boise will be a good fit for UD’s LIFE program because it is home to a high percentage of people who have started college but not completed it. That is a fast-growing college demographic nationwide, Bullock said.
The LIFE program offers evening courses, which makes it more accessible for non-traditional students, he said. He also noted that many employers will help pay for adult learners’ education, which means they can graduate with less debt.
University officials opened a campus in Tempe, Ariz., which is near Phoenix, nearly two years ago. The LIFE program also is offered in Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.
Bullock said the move to Tempe was an effort to reach under-served potential students. While starting the program has been a challenge in some ways — the UD campus is near the headquarters of the for-profit University of Phoenix — UD’s offering is doing well so far, Bullock said.
School officials counted 38 students at the Tempe campus when they took an official count in the fall. That number is now about 50, Bullock said, and he said he expects 100 students will be attending by spring 2020.
“We’re doing well in Tempe, but we’re learning a lot that you wouldn’t learn in a place like Dubuque,” he said.
Anne Gill, president and CEO of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, said UD staff have been engaged and involved in the community and seem to have had some success.
While there are multiple higher-education offerings in the Phoenix area, the region’s population is growing quickly, which makes room for more educational opportunities, she said.
“I think education is important to people here in Arizona, and I think this just gives them another option,” she said. “I don’t think it matters whether it’s University of Dubuque or University of Phoenix. It’s what fits the students.”
Peter Smith, UD’s vice president for enrollment management and university relations, said officials selected Boise as their next location with attention to demographics and the need for a college offering.
“We’re very careful about who we hire as faculty,” he said. “We’re very careful about how we build out a site. We’re very careful about how we deliver the coursework. You want it to be a good investment of time and money.”
The program is still going through the accreditation process.
Bullock said even as UD opens its next campus, it is continuing to look for new places to expand the LIFE program.
“This won’t be the last time, by any stretch,” he said.