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2009 GREATER PHOENIX ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING HERE 59 education Although it may seem like it sometimes, ASU isn't the only option around the Valley for those seeking higher learning. April Osborn, Ed. D., executive director of the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education, touts the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges ( along with ASU, of course) for their affordable and diverse offerings. And she also praised the " equally impressive" world- class private institutions that may be found locally, among them the University of Phoenix, Midwestern University, A. T. Still University and Thunderbird School of Global Management. " These institutions specialize in meeting the educational needs of working adults, individuals interested in health professions, dentistry, pharmacy and medicine, and those seeking a top- ranked college of international business management," Osborn said. The Maricopa Community Colleges and two skill centers comprise one of the largest educational institutions in the United States and offer a wide variety of associate degrees, certificates of completion and university transfer options. The community colleges offer small classes and quality instruction, at a tuition rate that's a fraction of costs at a university, according to Tom Gariepy, spokesperson for the Maricopa Community Colleges. Indeed, the community colleges are the largest workforce training organization in the state. The Maricopa Community Colleges also embrace non-traditional students. Rio Salado College, the Maricopa College that specializes in online learning, provides education to tens of thousands of online students who appreciate the convenience of being able to take classes virtually anytime, anywhere. In fact, more than 31,000 of Rio Salado's 60,000 students take their classes online each year and benefit from the Rio Advantage. " They love the fact that instead of traditional semesters, Rio's eLearning classes start every Monday. That's 50 start dates a year," said Linda Thor, Ed. D., the long- time president of Rio Salado. " We enhance Rio Salado's Web- based courses with full support, such as 24/ 7 technical and instructional help desks, librarian chats and virtual practicums for teacher education students. " In addition, this year we added RioLounge, our version of social networking for students, faculty and staff," Thor said. " It's a virtual student union with features like a place to chat with fellow learners, blogs, a marketplace to buy and sell items, and articles about college news and activities." — Gremlyn Bradley- Waddell Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering), the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative and the Translational Genomics Research Institute. Plans are for expansion of the campus in downtown Phoenix to include another health sciences education building and a second research building, Bravo added. David Roderique, president and CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, says it's thrilling to see the impact that ASU's sustained growth is having. " The continued addition of students, faculty and staff is really starting to have a significant impact on the downtown com-munity," he said, noting that some two dozen restaurants and numerous new retailers are new to the scene. More opportunities Although ASU West doesn't have any expansion projects going on at this time, new buildings that house classrooms, instructional labs and offices have opened on the Polytechic campus, according to Newberg. They include the Peralta and Picacho Halls, which are home to the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness Dean and faculty offices as well as Computing Studies faculty offices; Santan Hall, which houses offices for Engineering faculty and the College of Technology and Innovation Dean's Office; the Aravaipa Auditorium, which is not yet completed; Santa Catalina Hall, site of the School of Applied Arts and Sciences Dean's Office and the Dean's Office for the School of Educational Innovation and Teacher Preparation; and, finally, the new Applied Arts Pavilion, which houses, among other things, dance and music studios and a black- box theater. Meanwhile, back in Tempe, a new apartment- style student residence project welcomed about 1,800 students this past fall. Vista del Sol eventually will be home to 5,800 students across ten buildings. A residential complex for Barrett, The Honors College, is also slated to open this year. That project will house 1,700 students and will include classrooms, administrative and faculty offices and a dining hall. April Osborn, Ed. D., executive direc-tor of the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education, said Maricopa County residents are fortunate to have a " remarkable" public institution such as ASU in their midst, citing the fact that the campuses offer low in- state fees and an excellent range of curricular offerings. Among those, are the Tempe cam-pus' first- rate business, entrepreneurship and engineering programs, as well as its award- winning Biodesign Institute and the world's first school of sustain-ability. In fact, ASU offers more than 250 undergraduate programs, more than 350 graduate programs and annually awards 14,000 degrees. Sounds like 67,000 folks made an educated decision last year. Opportunities Abound for Higher Education photos: the arizona republic

60 2009 GREATER PHOENIX ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING HERE getting around Y ou can call it confusing, but you sure can't call it boring! Rather than sticking with the ho- hum numeri-cal format of naming roads, the Arizona State Transportation Board and the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names started adding a bit of educational content to the process back in the 1980s. So, locals ( and those who spend a few days racking up the miles around the city) know exactly what they're talking about when they refer to the Superstition Freeway, named for the mountains framing the East Valley; the Hohokam Expressway, named for the original indigenous inhabitants of the Valley in Phoenix; and the Agua Fria Freeway, named for the river and canyon cutting through the West Valley. But what's in a name, after all? Wher-ever the rubber hits the road, the Arizona Department of Transportation continues to make travel more convenient. July 2008 marked the completion of the larg-est project in Valley freeway construction history with the five- mile stretch of Red Mountain Freeway/ Loop 202 in Mesa. Thanks to the passage of the Proposition 400 sales tax extension in 2004, and the designation of more than $ 300 million in state funds, the prioritization of the transportation system continues apace. Smooth Moves Constant improvement means convenient travel — even to the far reaches of the Valley… by Jake Poinier photo: The arizona republic Continued on page 62 getting around