Phoenix Grows Rapidly In GR

July 28, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS – Simon Lumley says he wishes he could take credit for a local university program that started with 15 enrollees four years ago and now has just under 1,000.

“But I can’t take credit,” said Lumley, the new Grand Rapids campus director for Phoenix University. “It’s the program. It’s turning out to be very successful.”

Lumley, who on July 1 replaced Pat King as campus director, said that when he joined Phoenix nine years ago, it had about 16,000 students nationwide.

“Now we have 175,000.”

He explained that the firm’s initial Michigan establishment was in Detroit.

Phoenix in Detroit, he said, encountered so much interest from West Michigan that it broke ground in 1999 for its Grand Rapids campus at 318 River Ridge Drive NW, overlooking the Grand River at the junction of U.S. 131 and I-96.

That same August it matriculated its first students in a motel conference room on the south side of town.

“I’ve forgotten what motel it was,” Lumley said. “I know that we had to hold classes there longer than we wanted because the construction went over schedule.”

But the point is that even though some Phoenix enrollees may never enter a physical classroom, the River Ridge building has nearly reached capacity.

“We’re starting to look for some space on the south side of town,” he said.

“But before we build anything else here,” he added, “we’re finishing up the new campus in Kalamazoo — we’ll double our capacity there. It will open in October. And we’ll also complete our new campus in Lansing.”

He attributes the institution’s popularity to its high-speed and flexible student program designed primarily for employed adults who need degrees for career advancement.

Lumley explained that a three-credit undergraduate course requires six three-hour evening meetings, and that a three-credit graduate course takes five three-hour meetings.

A Phoenix student may enroll in a pure Internet program. The Internet version operates like a chat room, featuring a lecture and lecturer’s queries to students. Class participation by e-mail is required.

A student also may matriculate in a traditional classroom setting, or in a combination of the two.

The combination program entails two three-hour classroom meetings — the first and the last sessions — with either three or four three-hour Internet sessions, depending upon whether the course is graduate or undergraduate.

Phoenix offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and in business administration.

Lumley said business concentrations range from accounting to marketing and from e-business to global business.

Lumley said the university just increased its fee schedule 6 percent.

Undergraduate courses cost $329 per credit hour and graduate courses cost $432 per hour.           

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