University brings campus to area

Non-traditional students, not to mention the thousands of Shelby County seniors who graduate each May, should soon have another option for higher education. The University of Phoenix plans to open its first Alabama campus this summer in north Shelby County.

&8220;We&8217;d like to offer an additional access point for students who want to go to school but also are working,&8221; said Birmingham Campus Director Roger Rocha. The Arizona-based university received approval from the State of Alabama in 2006 to begin offering ground courses. It hopes to open in July.

&8220;It&8217;s a process,&8221; Rocha said. &8220;We&8217;ve located what we feel is going to be a good place for our first center. Hopefully we can get that solidified in the next week or so.&8221;

The university is in negotiations for an existing site along the 280 corridor. Nothing is certain, but Rocha said it &8220;looks favorable.&8221; Administrative and enrollment personnel currently operate out of the Chase Corporate Center, south of the Riverchase Galleria.

Initial ground offerings at the campus consist of undergraduate courses in business, management, human services and health administration and graduate courses in business administration and health administration.

&8220;We&8217;re going to figure out from the community what else to offer. We&8217;ll respond quickly to what the Birmingham market is telling me,&8221; Rocha said, adding that if students express the need, new degree programs could be in place as early as fall.

The local campus will include a resource center that gives access to computers, printers, copiers and wireless Internet,

as well as tutors and workshops. The physical presence will also give students a chance to interact face-to-face with enrollment counselors, academic advisers and other faculty.

&8220;You&8217;ll all of a sudden have a physical support you never had before [with the online program],&8221; Rocha said.

Once established in its first location, Phoenix plans to add as many as three more centers in the Birmingham area. Rocha said, &8220;It&8217;s important to me that we give access to students. We&8217;re trying to be convenient to students, to eliminate obstacles.&8221;

Under the program, which runs 20 months or less, students take one course at a time, one night a week, with undergraduate courses lasting five weeks and graduate courses lasting six.

Those wanting more information should call 747-1001