By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
A supporting organization of the GCU Scholarship Foundation has been selected to receive the gift of an historic, 217-acre campus in western Massachusetts that was founded by one of America’s most prominent evangelists.
The supporting organization, known formally as Scholarships for GCU Students, intends to enter into a long-term lease with GCU that will provide the University with the right to develop and operate the campus. The announcement was made today at a news conference in Northfield, the town of 3,000 residents where the campus is located, about 90 miles west of Boston.
“We’re excited and humbled to receive this property,” Brian Mueller, GCU’s president and chief executive, said at the news conference. Mueller also thanked the University’s 3,000-plus employees in Phoenix for having made GCU a success.
On hand from GCU, in addition to Mueller, were Chief Operating Officer Stan Meyer, Chief Financial Officer Dan Bachus, Senior Vice President for Campus Development Bob Machen, Senior Vice President and General Counsel Brian Roberts, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs Bill Jenkins and Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Tyler Nelson.
The Northfield campus was founded in 1879 by evangelist D.L. Moody as a seminary but has been unoccupied since 2005. It was purchased three years ago by the owners of the Hobby Lobby retail chain. The intention by the owners, who have spent millions of dollars in renovations, has been to transfer the property to a Christian educational institution that could demonstrate a commitment to sustaining the campus and honoring Moody’s legacy of faith.
The gift of the campus is pending appropriate federal, state and regional approvals and accreditations, and those are expected to be received before the end of 2012.
“As a supporter of Christian higher education across the United States, we hope this campus will provide a home for students to find their purpose in Christ and realize their full potential in life,” said Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, in a prepared statement. “We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this historic campus and for this community.”
A team from GCU first visited the campus in late April. In May, the University submitted an initial proposal and then a more extensive plan for use of the campus. The unusual gift of an entire campus, with 43 buildings already in place, has attracted national media attention for months.
The property involved in the transaction is near the gravesite of Moody and his wife, which is visited by Christians from around the world. Moody traveled the globe spreading the Gospel and founded the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
Northfield Q&A Click here for a Q&A about GCU’s acquisition of the historic Northfield campus.
The University expects to begin classes in the fall of 2014 with a projected enrollment of 500 traditional students. Programs would be offered at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, modeled after what has been done at GCU in Phoenix. Faculty and staff would grow from 50 at the outset to more than 600 by 2018.
The University expects to invest up to $150 million in the campus over a five-year period. The campus will grow into a fully developed liberal-arts institution, including robust academic, fine arts, athletics and student- life programs.
The University sees the campus as a rare opportunity in the Northeast to place a private college education within reach of an ever-larger number of those for whom the cost has become prohibitive.
Contact Doug Carroll at 602.639.8011 or email@example.com.