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California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Grand Canyon University butts heads with city where new campus would be

10/30/2012

Phoenix Business Journal - October 29, 2012

I promised you an update on why Grand Canyon University turned down a free 217-acre campus in Massachusetts, but GCU President Brian Mueller is on an airplane and couldn’t be reached for comment.

However, he granted an interview to Religion News Service, and the story was picked up by Christianity Today. It explained why GCU won’t be expanding to Massachusetts after all.

Apparently, the East Coast community of Northfield didn’t want the school.

Originally, classes were scheduled to begin in fall 2014 with about 500 students and grow to more than 5,000 students within five years.

That would have been bigger than the entire town. According to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, Northfield has a population of 3,026 within 34.18 square miles.

The article said Mueller was willing to make a $150 million investment, but the city of Northfield was concerned that plans for a 5,000-student campus would be too much for that town to handle.

In September, Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. donated the 217-acre site in western Massachusetts to the Phoenix-based university. The gift was valued at about $20 million.

“After conducting further diligence ... the university determined that it would not be in its best interest to proceed with the development of the campus and, on Oct. 25, 2012, informed Hobby Lobby that it will not accept the gift,” according to an 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Apparently, Hobby Lobby is having trouble unloading the property. It originally was going to be given to C.S. Lewis Foundation, but that foundation couldn’t raise enough money to launch a C.S. Lewis College on that site, according to Christianity Today.