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Benedictine University opens campus in Mesa, Ariz.

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 3:26 p.m. CDT

LISLE – Lisle-based Benedictine University opened a new campus in Mesa, Ariz. Tuesday.

The university's new branch is the first four-year Catholic university campus in Arizona. New students, educators, spiritual leaders and city and university representatives on Tuesday attended the blessing and ribbon-cutting of Gillett Hall, Benedictine’s academic building in downtown Mesa.

Tuesday’s ceremony was the culmination of a process that began nearly two years ago when Benedictine responded to the City of Mesa’s efforts to attract a university that would help revitalize its downtown area.

"Our goal is to become Mesa's university," Benedictine University President William J. Carroll said in a statement. "We are starting with a few classes with some excited students, and great things will be happening in the near future."

Gillett Hall is named in honor of Willis Gillett, chair of the Benedictine University Board of Trustees. It has capacity for nine classrooms, including an interactive classroom with non-traditional, flexible furniture, a nutrition lab featuring kitchenettes with residential appliances, a computer lab, chapel, a “Spirit Store” that offers Benedictine merchandise, a library center and a community room.

The building, a former hospital and community center, underwent a $10 million, yearlong renovation.

The Mesa, Ariz. branch campus joins a similar branch in Springfield as part of the university’s overall expansion plan.

Classes begin Sept. 3 with degree offerings that include a bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of arts in criminal justice, bachelor of arts in communication arts, bachelor of arts in psychology, bachelor of arts in theology, bachelor of science in nutrition and bachelor of business administration in management and organizational behavior, in addition to a minor in religious studies.

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