Benedictine University at Mesa recently became the first four-year Catholic university campus in Arizona as scores of guests, including new students, educators, spiritual leaders and city and university representatives, attended the blessing and ribbon-cutting of Gillett Hall, Benedictine's academic building in downtown Mesa.
The ceremony was the culmination of a process that began nearly two years ago when Lisle-based Benedictine responded to Mesa's efforts to attract a university that would help revitalize its downtown area.
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"Our goal is to become Mesa's university," Benedictine University President William J. Carroll said. "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, chairman of the Benedictine University board of trustees. It has capacity for nine classrooms, including an interactive classroom with nontraditional, 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 branch campus, much like Benedictine's branch campus in Springfield, is part of the university's overall expansion plan and creates more opportunities for all Benedictine students.
Classes begin Tuesday, 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.