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A 'first-class' first class for ASU West

ASU West presents its first-ever freshman class. Located on 47th Avenue and Thunderbird, this campus caters to the needs of its smaller, intimate group of incoming college students. Following the class picture, these students are given much counseling and

ASU West opens its doors to freshmen for the first time today as a four-year university.

Since opening in 1984, west campus carried only upper division courses for juniors, seniors and graduate students and was one of the few remaining upper division campuses in the nation.

After a great deal of administering surveys and research, including visits from the mayors of Glendale and Peoria, ASU West decided to add lower division courses.

The west campus had 5,278 students enrolled in spring 2001 and is projected to have 15,000 students by 2015.

The primary reason for the move was to accommodate students who live in the surrounding area and wanted a four-year university experience but were not able or willing to move to the main campus in Tempe.

Campus officials also wanted to give West Valley residents a chance to attend ASU without having to spend up to an hour or more on the freeway each day.

Psychology freshman Joelle McCord said the commute was the main reason he chose the west campus.

"I would have liked to go to main campus, but it was too far," he said. "I didn't want to drive to Tempe. But, West is a nice campus."

Last year, after a presentation of research-based material to ASU President Lattie Coor's cabinet, a recommendation was made to the Arizona Board of Regents. The board voted unanimously to allow west campus to offer lower division curriculum beginning this fall.

ASU West Provost Elaine Maimon, who had an integral part in the change, said she is excited about providing more options for West Valley students.

"Our goal is for each student to find the campus that's best for them. We are a smaller campus with a different feel, and we are happy to add ASU West as a choice for freshmen," she said. "We are going to bring together all the resources of this campus for our students to be successful all the way to graduation."

The inaugural freshman class is about 250 students in size with more than 33 percent being of ethnic minority. Many of the freshmen live within 10 minutes of campus.

Thirty-seven percent of the group qualified for the National Merit Scholarship, meaning they were in the top 5 to 10 percent of their high school classes, prompting many faculty members to call the new freshmen "a 'first-class' first class."

Along with becoming a full four-year campus, a laundry list of opportunities opened to students. Nearly every freshman is participating in a "Learning Community," in which 20 to 40 students have two to three academic classes with one another along with an assigned librarian, computer technician, adviser and an upper division student mentor.

Students also have the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities for four years directly out of high school.

"I chose ASU West because it was close to home, and I could make a lot of new friends," education freshman Anna Eike said. "It is a more personal atmosphere, and you get to run into the same people more frequently."

Reach Christopher Drexel at

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