Council approves lease with University of Arizona to bring nursing program to Gilbert

The University Building in the Heritage District has opened its doors to students from Park University and the University of Arizona.

The University Building in the Heritage District has opened its doors to students from Park University and the University of Arizona.

The University of Arizona will offer a nursing degree program in Gilbert beginning next fall after Town Council on Feb. 7 approved a lease of the University Building.

Council approved the lease agreement 7-0.

The program will be a Bachelor of Science in nursing with the university taking up residence on the third floor of the University Building at 92 West Vaughn Avenue in downtown Gilbert.

'Perfect match'

Joel Hauff, the university's associate vice president of student affairs and enrollment management as well as its executive director of online and distance education administration, said coming to Gilbert was the right move.

“We don’t want to just come into the Phoenix area to try and grab market share,” Hauff said. “That’s not what this is about. It’s about serving the residents of Arizona and specifically the citizens of Gilbert.”

Hauff said it was a perfect match to bring its “top-notch program” to the University Building. The building had been designed for original tenant St. Xavier University to conduct nursing activities, making the building turnkey for UA’s nursing program.

Hauff also noted the rising health care industry in the area as well as a nursing shortage as reasons why Gilbert is a good location for the program.

Park University, which opened to students in October, occupies the first floor of the building. However, UA already had a presence in the building with coding boot camps it has run since May 2017.

Park’s Gilbert campus Chief Executive Officer Jeff Ehrlich welcomed UA’s expanded presence in the building.

“It’s our belief that together, we grow, no matter if we are perceived to be competitors,” Ehrlich said.

University Building lease

The lease calls for UA to occupy 15,448 square feet of improved rentable space and provides an additional 2,218 square feet of unimproved shell space for administrative, nursing simulation and classroom space.

Gilbert officials have frequently acknowledged a town focus on gaining more higher education opportunities for residents. That, in turn, helps develop an attractive work force and bring more businesses to town. The University Building was built for that purpose, officials said.

“Gilbert has been committed to attracting a higher education partner that could take advantage of the state-of-the-art nursing education infrastructure that the University Building offers,” Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels said in a statement. “We are thrilled that the University of Arizona is bringing their nationally ranked nursing program to Gilbert, and I look forward to supporting this great institution in their efforts to fill the demand in Arizona’s rapidly growing health care industry.”

UA projects 216 students to be enrolled by the third year of the program, according to town documents.

The lease, which lasts for three years and seven months, will cost UA just over $1.7 million, plus a security deposit of nearly $81,000. It also contains three one-year extension options.

The rate for the lease is $30 per square foot of the improved area and $9.73 per square foot of the unimproved area.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.