News

University to boost program offerings in Temecula

Inland News, September 3rd 2007

University to boost program offerings in Temecula

10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, August 30, 2007

By JEFF HORSEMAN

The Press-Enterprise

TEMECULA - Five months after a plan to build a higher-education complex in Temecula collapsed, one university plans to offer new programs in an effort to provide local students a chance to get a four-year degree.

But the City Council is holding out hope of luring higher education to a 32-acre site on Diaz Road set aside for the complex, said Mayor Chuck Washington. The city has interviewed five developers who expressed interest in the city-owned site. He declined to name them, but said an announcement could come soon.

Concordia University announced plans this week to offer four-year degree programs at its Temecula campus starting next fall. The Irvine-based Christian university signed a 15-year lease to continue operating out of its branch on Single Oak Drive.

Bachelor's degrees will be offered in business and in liberal arts with an emphasis on elementary teacher education, said Barbara Howard, director of the school's Temecula Regional Center. She said a nursing degree is also in the works.

The new programs will work by having students spend their first two years at a college such as Mt. San Jacinto College. They would then transfer to Concordia for their final two years.

Other higher-education institutions with a Temecula presence include Mt. San Jacinto, which offers 78 courses in classrooms at two high schools, and the University of Redlands, which runs bachelor's and master's programs in business at its satellite campus on Madison Avenue.

Tana Sanderson, director of Redlands' Temecula campus, said the school has had requests to offer its school of education program in Temecula. The program could come as early as next year, she said.

Concordia has offered master's programs and adult education in Temecula for the past couple of years. But Howard said the university sees a need for four-year degrees in southwest Riverside County.

"We're here to stay," she said. "We're a four-year entity and we want to meet the needs of this community."

The expansion comes after a deal collapsed in March to build an $80 million center where multiple colleges would offer classes to students who wanted to learn close to home. Temecula spent $8 million in taxpayer funds to acquire and grade the Diaz Road site.

The deal failed when the developer missed a city-imposed deadline to obtain construction financing.

Of the parties that responded to the city's request for interest in the site, Washington said only a couple thought a higher-education component was possible.

He said a higher-education complex at the site would likely be smaller than the one originally proposed. The site isn't big enough to attract a four-year school, said the mayor, who added that the city is seeking to lure a four-year college or university to another location in Temecula.

Washington and Councilwoman Maryann Edwards welcomed news of Concordia's expansion.

"The region has a demographic and a population that is interested in education," Edwards said. "There's always going to be a market."

Reach Jeff Horseman at 951-375-3727 or jhorseman@PE.com

 


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