Albright and Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre will be opening new branches in Mesa, Ariz., at the request of the city.
Wilkes and Albright join Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., and Benedictine University in Lyle, Ill., as part of a concerted effort by Mesa Mayor Scott Smith to improve the downtown and expand the educational opportunities available to the city's 450,000 residents.
Nearby Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University offer wonderful programs, Smith said, but the city's growing population needed more variety.
"We had hardly any private colleges. We decided the one thing we could do was to expand our educational options by offering our downtown to liberal arts, legacy colleges, not start-ups, but (colleges) that had been around for a while," said Smith.
"When this proposal came through we treated it like the other sites," said Jerome Lee, program administrator and professor of psychology at Albright's new Mesa campus.
The effort began in 2010 to add these types of institutions to the area. The city sent out requests to colleges and received business plans from about two dozen schools.
Of those responding, 12 were asked to come to Mesa to give a formal proposal, including the two Pennsylvania schools.
Albright's temporary campus is located in the city's Bank of America building – a 16-floor "skyscraper," which in the desert location can be seen for miles.