- Associated Press - Sunday, February 26, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas State University is finalizing plans to open a campus in Mexico.

A new agreement between the university in Jonesboro and its Mexico campus will reset the length of the partnership to a decade and give the Arkansas school a chance to earn more from it, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/2lTXEoS ).

Arkansas State University System President Chuck Welch said the university first signed agreements with Mexican entities in 2012 and another in 2014 with a different group of investors. But, both of those documents were created at a time when Arkansas State University Campus Queretaro was still an idea.

“There hadn’t been a shovel of dirt turned. There hadn’t been any investments made in the project. It was still something that we were talking about,” Welch said. “Now, we are looking at an August or early September start date of classes later this year, and so we’ve moved from a conceptual stage to an active-campus stage, and with that came the necessity of a revised agreement that really addressed a whole litany of other issues that weren’t necessary when it was a concept but are now necessary when it’s an active campus.”

Investors with the ASU-Campus Queretaro private foundation, led by Ricardo Gonzalez, are paying for the project. ASU has said no state money has gone toward the Mexican campus.

Campus Queretaro sits on 370 acres and includes 800,000 square feet of academic and residential buildings, for students and faculty members. Other developments will surround it.

The campus is to open either Aug. 28 or Sept. 4 this year. Campus Queretaro has started taking applications and has even started accepting some students, said Brad Rawlins, vice rector of academics at Campus Queretaro.

The Mexico campus will offer its inaugural students general education and introductory courses. The classes taught in English are part of the ASU curriculum. Upperclassmen in Jonesboro are unlikely to get a chance to experience the campus, though all of the Jonesboro campus’s 14,085 students may be able to take advantage of a study-abroad program there, which is still in the works, Rawlins said.

As the campus grows and more classes are added, Arkansas students and faculty members could then take part in exchange programs, he said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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