Multiuniversity campus in Chaska recruits institutions

About 26 miles away from the University, a new college campus that might change the face of higher education will break ground this year.

Chaska’s EdCampus Twin Cities will be a multiuniversity collaborative, hosting faculty and programs from a number of institutions from across the country – and possibly from across the globe.

The Metropolitan Lifelong Learning Center will oversee EdCampus. Tim Engen, president of Metropolitan Lifelong Learning Center, said they hope technologically advanced, adaptive classrooms will attract institutions from around the globe to bringing their programs to Minnesota.

He said some institutions would offer traditional undergraduate degrees, while others would be short-term programming or specialized master of business administration programs.

“We’re just a building that’s been designed to meet the future needs and aspirations of future students,” Engen said.

It is unclear which institutions will be represented on the campus, and there have been no talks between the University and Metropolitan Lifelong Learning Center at this time. However, Engen said he hopes to collaborate with the University.

Dan Wolter, a University spokesman, said he couldn’t predict if the University would be interested in EdCampus, but noted there isn’t a need for more space within the University system, which possesses more than 25 million square feet in the state.

The Chaska campus could total 340,000 square feet and accommodate up to 6,500 students.

Last week, Metropolitan Lifelong Learning Center officials delivered a presentation to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, but no agreements have been made.

“The staff is still reviewing options on what’s the best and most effective way to meet the higher education needs of people in that area,” Melinda Voss, spokeswoman for MnSCU, said.

Starting in July, Engen said the process of contacting and negotiating agreements with other institutions will begin.

Chaska Mayor Gary Van Eyll said the campus will likely be operating by 2010.

The company will need all that time to construct the classrooms and the other campus buildings, he said.

Van Eyll said the city has been discussing postsecondary education options since last year, and even considered a Chaska University before being approached about EdCampus.

Postsecondary institutions leasing out satellite classrooms is not a new concept in the state.

MnSCU offers courses at about 300 off-campus sites, but the University doesn’t lease satellite classrooms now, Wolter said.

Engen said the face of postsecondary education is changing, and he hopes to draw students seeking more control than traditional institutions allow.

“It’s the amplification of student choice,” he said. “It’s allowing students to see all the programs that are available to them and flexibly move through various institutions to enhance the strength of their diploma.”

EdCampus is unique in the large number and variety of institutions they hope to bring together under one roof.

“We’re also hopeful the institutions will collaborate together to create alliances to create those degrees in the future,” he said.