Though the towns of Oro Valley and Marana remain tight-lipped about ongoing talks with Grand Canyon University, it appears there is at least some chance the for-profit private Christian-based college could eventually call one of the two towns home to its newest campus.
Grand Canyon University, which for the time being has one Phoenix-based campus, is looking for approximately 75 to 100 acres to expand its educational reach, an area that most municipalities in the Tucson area are capable of catering to.
Officials from the college first considered the City of Tucson’s underused and deteriorating El Rio Golf Course as a potential building ground.
That, however, was met with resistance by area residents, and the idea ultimately fizzled out at the hands of the Tucson City Council, which showed favoritism in keeping the historic golf course and its programming.
Since that time, rumors have circulated as to where the campus would seek to locate next, and whether or not Tucson or surrounding areas would still be considered in those talks.
Officials with Grand Canyon University have stated that while the Tucson region is still a prospect, there is a possibility the campus is also eyeing Mesa and Gilbert for an East Valley location.
But Oro Valley and possibly Marana appear to be in the running as well.
Oro Valley Communications Administrator Misti Nowak acknowledged “The town has a proposal under consideration with GCU,” but added that, “Out of respect for the client, the town is not commenting on anything while we’re still in discussions.”
The Town of Marana was equally quiet about rumors that it too was in discussions with the university.
Public Information Officer Rodney Campbell said only that, “Grand Canyon University is exploring multiple sites in the greater metropolitan Tucson area.”
“Most options Grand Canyon University is discussing right now are being held in confidence,” he added.
The economic impact the campus could have on the region is significant. An economic analyst for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities estimated an $841 million regional impact.
Grand Canyon University could hire as many as 2,000 employees and enroll 7,000 students at its maximum operating potential.