Catholic university partners with ASU

A private Catholic university in North Dakota will begin offering theology and Catholic studies courses through a dual program with ASU.

Collaboration between ASU and a private Catholic university in North Dakota will bring a new dual program to students this fall.

For the past year and a half, administrators at the University of Mary and ASU have worked to bring about this partnership, allowing ASU students to enroll in classes through the University of Mary within walking distance from the Tempe campus.

Virgil Renzulli, vice president for the Office of Public Affairs at ASU, said the collaboration will help the University attract Catholic in-state students. Unlike many other states, Arizona does not have any Catholic colleges or universities.

“Lots of students figure their only option if they want to take Catholic classes is to go out of state,” Renzulli said.

The partnership will operate similarly to ASU’s agreement with Maricopa Community Colleges, Renzulli said.

Students can earn a major or minor in theology or Catholic studies through the University of Mary while taking classes at the All Saints Catholic Newman Center, the Catholic church on University Drive and College Avenue.

Rev. James Shea, University of Mary president, said students pursuing these majors and minors through the University of Mary would still take their general education courses through ASU.

They can also take individual classes through the University of Mary and transfer credits to ASU.

The University of Mary already offers a master’s degree in education through Catholic schools in the Valley, along with other programs at satellite campuses in other cities, but this is its first foray into undergraduate education outside of Bismarck, N.D.

Shea said the University of Mary had considered opening another satellite campus in Arizona, but ASU’s reputation as the New American University prompted the collaboration.

“We liked the idea of the New American University, which is deeply engaged in the needs of the community while having students at the center and is willing to partner with the private sector,” he said. “We thought if ASU means what it says, it would be a perfect partner.”

Collaboration between the two universities is already off to a good start, Shea said.

The University of Mary is coordinating its Tempe classes with ASU’s schedule, so students will be able to take classes at both colleges without running into conflicts, he said.

Shea said the University of Mary would consider hiring ASU employees as part-time or adjunct professors for its classes, along with Valley residents with experience in theology or catholic studies.

Students will pay separate tuition to both universities, but ASU will handle all federal financial aid.

Journalism junior Kyra Geithman said she would consider taking courses through the dual program.

“I’ve taken a couple of religions courses here, but they haven’t been too in-depth,” Geithman said. “I would be interested in taking some of these classes if they fit in my schedule because religion is very important to me.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @JMShumway on Twitter.

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