Downtown Mesa Is Getting Its Fourth Liberal-Arts School

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The idea was to take a sprawling desert suburb, better known for senior-living trailer parks than for schools, and retrofit it with the kinds of colleges that sprang up in America's older regions, decades or even centuries ago.

It may have seemed audacious, even quixotic. Ivy, after all, doesn't do well in the heat.

But after Monday's announcement that Wilkes University of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., is setting up shop in Mesa, the city's downtown is on the verge of becoming, in effect, a college campus without parallel nationwide.

Wilkes is the fourth liberal-arts school to make such an announcement this year, an accomplishment that resulted from a combination of hard work, a changing educational environment and a city willing to wheel and deal with its unused downtown properties.

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