University of Phoenix rises in Tacoma

City officials, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber members and staff and faculty turned out Wednesday afternoon to welcome the University of Phoenix to Tacoma.

A formal grand opening ceremony, complete with a ribbon-cutting, was held to mark the nation’s largest private university opening a location in downtown Tacoma. The new campus occupies 15,000-square-feet on the fifth floor and part of the sixth floor of the Tacoma Financial Center, 1145 Broadway.

“We’re particularly thrilled to be here in Tacoma,” said Mark Cameron, Northwest Regional vice president for the University of Phoenix, who pointed out that downtown development played a big part in making Wednesday’s opening a reality.

“We generally don’t come to downtown facilities,” he observed.

Those comments were echoed by Mayor Bill Baarsma, a former University of Puget Sound professor, who touted the connection between economic development and education.

“This is a unique role in education that fills a real niche,” Baarsma said of the University of Phoenix, which provides flexible and accessible higher education learning opportunities for working adults. “This will make Tacoma an education community.”

The Tacoma campus offers undergraduate programs in business management, information technology and human services. Graduate level degrees include a master of business administration with seven specializations, and a master of arts in organizational management.

Also offered is a master of business administration via FlexNet, a degree program where students attend a portion of their classes on campus and complete the remaining component online.

Each undergraduate course is held for five weeks; each graduate course, for six weeks. Students attend classes once a week, with learning team meetings also occurring once a week.Classes started in early January.

Over 200 students are enrolled in classes at the Tacoma site. The new campus facilities are state of the art, with each of the 11 classrooms wired for computer access to the Internet and video capabilities to facilitate instruction.

Also included is a fully outfitted student resource center, learning team rooms, a student break room, office and resource facilities for faculty and staff, a reception area and other administrative spaces.

Class sizes range from about 10 to 25 students, with an average class size of 14.

The University of Phoenix also celebrated the grand opening today of a campus in Bellevue at the Lincoln Executive Center building.

Other University of Phoenix campuses in Puget Sound are located in Renton, Southcenter/Tukwila and Mountlake Terrace. Classes are also conducted at Bangor Naval Station, and other campuses are located in Spokane and Vancouver.

The Northwest region of the University of Phoenix includes campuses in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Vancouver, British Columbia.

“We have over 201,000 students as of the end of February,” Cameron said.