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  • Peoria City Council approved a branch of Huntington University in Peoria
  • The campus will focus on digital media arts and offer five degree programs
  • City hopes Huntington will help establish a digital media industry in Peoria
A rendering of the planned Huntington University campus in Peoria.

A university focused on digital media arts is coming to Peoria, with classes scheduled to begin as early as spring 2016.

Peoria City Council gave its final approval on June 7 to Huntington University to develop a high school campus in Peoria after three years of discussions with the Indiana-based university. The campus will be located in the Arrowhead Innovation Center, south of Bell Road, near 87th Avenue, and will be the first college in Arizona to focus on digital media arts.

“We are delighted with the confidence the city has shown in the university,” said Jeff Berggren, Peoria campus manager for Huntington. “The university feels that although it took us three years to get there, things have happened where we have the right program, the right partners and now the right parameters to move forward. and move on. “

The private Christian University will be the second established college in the city after Trine University, which is also based in Indiana. Huntington had originally planned to develop nursing, exercise science, kinesiology, and digital media arts programs in Peoria.

RELATED:Trine University campus awaits Peoria’s first class

After reassessing which programs would best serve the city, Huntington decided to go only with the Digital Media Arts program.

There is already a large target audience for the program, Berggren said. Thousands of Arizona high school students graduate with a media or visual arts experience each year as part of the state’s department of education vocational and technical education program.

At Peoria high schools, the university is working to establish a dual enrollment system with the sports media program, the Peoria Student Broadcasting Network, so that students can earn college credit while in high school.

Charles Kar, owner of the Arrowhead Innovation Campus, plans to transform his facility into a digital media center, home to the Huntington campus as well as companies involved in film production, digital rights management, advertising, audio engineering and other media related fields.

“While all of these students are graduates in digital media arts, what companies look for when they move to a community is where they are going to find their workforce,” he said. he declares. “A whole industry could be created for Peoria and the Valley around film and media.”

The high school campus will offer degrees in broadcast fusion media, film production, graphic design, digital animation, and web development. The university still needs to obtain accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecond Education before classes can begin.

Huntington has planned a smooth launch in the spring of 2016, offering courses to transfer community college students and dual enrollment for Peoria high school students. The inauguration is scheduled for fall 2016.

The university plans to admit at least 100 post-high school students in the first year, and then increase the student body to 500 students over the next three to five years. Huntington will be a commuter-based campus, so there will be no dorms or university accommodation.

Tuition will be kept close to that of state universities, costing between $ 350 and $ 375 per credit hour, according to Berggren.

Peoria has entered into an economic development agreement with Huntington and will reimburse the university up to nearly $ 1.9 million over three years if certain milestones are met, such as obtaining accreditation, enrolling in at least 100 students and submission of financial reports.

“Digital media arts is a pretty expensive program to launch, which I think probably explains why people aren’t looking for it so much,” Berggren said. “Without the economic agreement and the city’s partnership, it is unlikely that this [branch campus] would be possible. “

Although Huntington is starting with a program, Berggren said nursing, exercise science and kinesiology are not excluded and that they will look to expand into other areas of study once the Peoria campus will have a few years of development.

Berggren hopes to receive accreditation for digital media arts degrees by the end of this year so that the university can begin the admissions process.

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