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Church State Issues

Will Mesa give tax dollars to the Catholic Benedictine University???

Jan 9, 2012

Arizona Republic Article

From this article it sure sounds like the city of Mesa will be giving government welfare to this religious entity if they move to Mesa, Arizona.

Of course that is something that is forbidden by the Arizona Constitution per

Arizona Constitution

Article 2, § 12

12. Liberty of conscience; appropriations for religious purposes prohibited; religious freedom

... No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise, or instruction, or to the support of any religious establishment ...

Catholic university eyes Mesa site

Illinois-based Benedictine U will establish downtown campus

by Gary Nelson - Jan. 4, 2012 10:16 PM

The Republic |

Benedictine University, a 125-year-old, 7,100-student institution based in suburban Chicago, announced Wednesday that it hopes to begin offering classes in downtown Mesa by fall 2013, using a vacant city-owned building as its beachhead in the Valley.

The goal is to have a 1,500-student residential campus by the 10th year of operations, said Charles W. Gregory, the university's executive vice president.

"Benedictine is here for the long haul," he said. "We see this campus in Mesa as being a foothold, if you will, to the Western region of the United States."

The announcement caps a two- year effort by Mesa Mayor Scott Smith to bring a four-year college to the city, which is one of most underserved cities in the nation in terms of higher education.

"This is great news," Arizona State University President Michael Crow said. "Arizona is about a dozen colleges short of what is needed to serve the citizens with a diversity of educational platforms."

ASU spokesman Virgil Renzulli said the shortage of higher- education options is why ASU has grown by 22,000 students over the past 10 years and hopes to open a small campus this year in Lake Havasu City.

"We knew Arizona is underbuilt (with respect to colleges)," Renzulli said.

Benedictine would be the first stand-alone Catholic university in a state whose earliest European settlers and missionaries belonged to that church. Earlier efforts to establish a Catholic university presence in the West Valley failed.

Benedictine was founded in Chicago in 1887 under the name St. Procopius College and moved to Lisle, in suburban DuPage County, in 1901. It became Illinois Benedictine College in 1971 and Benedictine University in 1996.

Gregory said Benedictine offers a variety of programs on its main campus, a satellite campus in Springfield, Ill., and on-the-ground programs in China and Vietnam, where the focus is on business.

He said the Mesa campus probably will focus at first on recruiting junior and senior transfer students.

It's likely the early curriculum will concentrate on criminal justice, psychology and management. If it gets final approval, it will open in the vacant building at 225 E. Main St., formerly the Tri-City Service Center.

Undergraduate tuition at Benedictine's main campus runs $11,825 a year, compared with Arizona State University's in-state tuition of $9,716.

Actual establishment of the Mesa campus depends on church and secular approvals, including a permit from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.

Mesa and Benedictine also must work out a development agreement for use of the building and other terms. The City Council is expected to approve a preliminary memorandum of understanding next week.

A celebratory news conference in Mesa City Plaza was the payoff for several years of concerted effort by the city to expand its portfolio of higher-education offerings.

Smith said the campus not only would provide more opportunity for Arizona students, it would mesh perfectly with Mesa's ambitious plans for its downtown, where a light-rail extension is to begin operating by mid-decade.

"This has been a very long road, but it's been something that we've been very committed to from the very beginning," Smith said.

Smith has made education one of his top priorities almost since the day he and most of the current City Council took office in June 2008.

The city sent requests for proposals to about 1,000 colleges and universities and, for the past several months, has been making presentations to about a dozen institutions that responded, giving preference to schools that wanted to locate downtown.

Mesa continues to entertain proposals from other schools, city officials said.

Smith has been saying for years that more Arizona students would graduate from college if there were more diversity in the state's higher education.

Further, he has pointed out the lack of four-year campuses in Arizona cities compared with older Eastern and Midwestern cities that offer numerous opportunities.

Providence, R.I., for example, has about 178,000 people and seven four-year campuses.

Mesa, by contrast, has one four-year campus, ASU's Polytechnic campus, for the city's approximately 440,000 residents.

Although ASU's main campus is only 3 miles from Mesa's western limit, Smith contends that the gigantic state university system can't be the only option for college-bound Arizona kids who want to pursue higher education close to home.

"We could put five colleges in here and we wouldn't even begin to match what other cities our size have," Smith said several years ago.

Now, Smith said Wednesday, "having another option, another offering in Mesa, the East Valley and Arizona will enhance the opportunities for our students."

"Our goal is not to compete with other institutions," Smith added. "We think Arizona is big enough for a lot of players."

The most recent statistics published by the U.S. Department of Education bear out the demand in Arizona.

In 2008, the department said, 63.8 percent of U.S. high-school graduates went on to college, and 51.8 percent were attending college in their home states.

In Arizona those numbers were 51.4 percent and 45.9 percent, respectively.

Among the states and the District of Columbia, Arizona ranked 46th in the percentage of its graduates attending college. It ranked 33rd in the percentage of its graduates attending college in-state.

Landing colleges and universities is just one facet of Mesa's push for higher education.

In 2010 the city, Mesa Public Schools and Mesa Community College landed a prestigious $3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a program called Mesa Counts on College.

The grant was awarded after Mesa discovered that only 8 percent of its ninth-grade students could expect to earn a college degree.

Complain about this violation of Church & State to:

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith a government tyrant that doesn't believe in separation of church and state???

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith

Phone: 480-644-2388

Dave Richins a government tyrant that doesn't believe in separation of church and state???

Councilmember Dave Richins

Fax: 480-644-2175

Alex Finter a government tyrant that doesn't believe in separation of church and state???

Councilmember Alex Finter

Fax: 480-644-2175

Dennis Kavanaugh a government tyrant that doesn't believe in separation of church and state???

Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh

Fax: 480-644-2175

Christopher Glover a government tyrant that doesn't believe in separation of church and state???

Councilmember Christopher Glover

Phone:480-644- 3004
Fax: 480-644-2175

Dina Higgins a government tyrant that doesn't believe in separation of church and state???

Councilmember Dina Higgins

Fax: 480-644-2175

Scott Somers a government tyrant that doesn't believe in separation of church and state???

Vice Mayor Scott Somers

Phone: 480-644-4003
Fax: 480-644-2175

Office of the Mayor & Council
City of Mesa
PO Box 1466
Mesa, AZ 85211-1466