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The Florida site is an innovative response to the increasing demand for high-quality graduate education in disciplines that serve the rapidly expanding health care sector of the Florida economy. The additional site increases the opportunity for Gannon University students, prospective students and faculty to help meet the need for health professionals in a state where the population of both older persons and school-age persons is growing.
Our extensive market research spanned the country and several states with growing populations. The west coast of Florida had the optimal balance of growing population of college-age students, a growing need for health care professionals combined with a limited number of graduate health care professional programs and an extremely welcoming community.
The additional site was also chosen for its congruence with Gannon University's Mission and Catholic Identity. The University was encouraged to find open and eager partners within the Ruskin community, the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg and at potential sites for clinical and field placements.
Our high quality graduate programs can be offered effectively at the new site and can contribute to growth, both in Ruskin and on the flagship Erie campus. Indeed, the integration of additional sites and the synergies they will generate are vital to the continued momentum and success of the Erie campus.
Gannon University recently welcomed its largest enrollment in 23 years at a time when many colleges and universities in the northeast are facing enrollment declines.
"The Ruskin campus leverages Gannon's program strengths and capacity to deliver high-quality education," said Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. "This initiative speaks to the academic, financial and organizational health of Gannon and our Erie campus into which we have invested $60 million in the last six years and intend to invest an additional $20-$25 million in the next three years."
Among the current investments are the $14.5 million project to modernize the Recreation and Wellness Center, the opening of the Center for Communication and the Arts and the opening next spring of the Center for Business Ingenuity, which will house the Dahlkemper School of Business, the Erie Technology Incubator and the Small Business Development Center.
"This investment is about our students and ensuring their access to exceptional education," Taylor said. "In 1944, we received permission from the Commonwealth to offer degrees in Pennsylvania. Seventy years later, we are moving forward in the spirit of our founder, Archbishop John Mark Gannon, by offering graduate degrees in Florida."