The Candor

Opening of Gillett Hall at BenU Mesa

By: Saimah Shareef

Another branch of Benedictine University located in Mesa, Arizona is opening up a Services Center. A blessing and ribbon-cutting celebration marking the grand opening of Gillett Hall, the academic building at Benedictine University in Mesa, will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 27th. Gillett Hall, located at 225 E. Main St. in downtown Mesa, is named in honor of Willis Gillett, chairman of the Benedictine University Board of Trustees. It has the space to accommodate for nine classrooms, a nutrition lab featuring kitchenettes with residential appliances, a computer lab, chapel, a store which will sell Benedictine merchandise, a library center and a community room.

Benedictine, a private Catholic university, was founded in Chicago in 1887.  In 1901, it moved to Lisle in DuPage County, Illinois. On January 9, 2012, the City Council authorized the City Manager to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with BenU (MOU) which laid out the framework for the development of a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. BenU will open Gillett Hall that will serve as its administrative offices while they establish their new campus. Construction started in the Fall of 2012 and is scheduled to open up for classes this fall.

Gillett Hall will serve as an academic building while last year a new Services Center was opened up at Mesa. After earning approval to operate in Arizona and the blessing of the Phoenix Diocese, the Catholic university officially opened its doors to business in downtown Mesa in September with a private blessing and ribbon-cutting celebration at the Benedictine University at Mesa Services Center at 51 E. Main St., Suite 105. According to Elliott Peppers, Media Relations Manager at BenU the Services Center is the location of administrative offices. According to the Catholic and Benedictine traditions, the building was blessed by Phoenix Diocese Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.

DLR Group and D.L. Withers Construction worked with city and University officials on the architectural design and remodeling of the Services Center at Mesa in 2012 and have also been involved in the recovery of the 225 E. Main St. site, where Gillett Hall also stands.

Peppers stated the programs and degrees that will be offered at the Mesa campus. Benedictine in Mesa will offer degrees, such as Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Bachelor of Business Administration in Management and Organizational Behavior, in addition to a minor in Religious Studies.

For more than 125 years, Benedictine University has provided a renowned liberal arts education that is centered on a smaller student body, providing for greater teacher-student engagement and communication. Benedictine University at Mesa offers the same private, faith-based education grounded in history, heritage and Catholic tradition as the main BenU branch based in Lisle. According to Charles Gregory, Executive Vice President of Benedictine University, the Mesa campus should have 80-100 enrolled students by the end of this year. It is also the first Catholic University in Arizona.