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Grant to Saint Francis a gift for us all

City will reap many benefits of university’s downtown footprint

The University of Saint Francis wishes to thank Mayor Tom Henry for his Jan. 10 recommendation of $3 million from the city’s Legacy Fund to help make possible a university campus in downtown Fort Wayne.

As we renovate two historic buildings for university use, our investment will continue the momentum of change taking place in downtown Fort Wayne.

The former Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce building on Ewing Street will become the new home for the Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership. The business school is expanding to include a risk management and insurance program and provides the business courses that support the new Media Entrepreneurship Technology in the Arts program.

META, the university’s exclusive and innovative project-based learning program, and our growing music technology program will be housed in the USF Performing Arts Center, the former Scottish Rite facility on West Berry Street. Students in the new bachelor of fine arts in dance, a partnership with the Fort Wayne Ballet, will also use this unique facility.

This new space will allow for the continued growth and development of the School of Creative Arts and its ability to participate in the emerging Fort Wayne cultural district.

Business and arts organizations can anticipate greater interaction with students through mentorships, internships, employment opportunities, voluntarism and social engagement.

A downtown university presence will create additional cultural activities to attract a diverse creative class, ignite social activity and lead to new niche businesses.

The university’s sponsored programs and events have already brought 25,000 people to the USF Performing Arts Center.

An independent economic development study concluded that the four-year financial effect of the University of Saint Francis’ downtown campus would be in excess of $23 million. With up to 300 students, faculty and staff coming downtown, these once-underutilized buildings will again be teeming with activity, making the west end a destination for lectures, performances and other cultural events.

In recent years the university has doubled its enrollment, developed a nationally recognized football program, expanded health care education, created a nationally recognized visual arts program, established a presence in Crown Point and developed a virtual campus to serve degree-seeking post-traditional students.

We are now committed to the development of a downtown campus.

Fort Wayne has a long history of creating public and private partnerships that serve the public good. The return on investment for the City of Fort Wayne will be realized in increased economic strength, retention of talent and a growing reputation as a college town.

We encourage you to join us downtown. A list of coming events can be found at

Sister M. Elise Kriss is president of the University of Saint Francis. She wrote this for The Journal Gazette.