It has been nearly two years since PLNU classes were first offered at Liberty Station. Although the Nursing and 5th year MBA program have been using the facilities for more than one year, this is the first year that a large amount of general education (GE) classes are offered at Liberty Station.
Two months into the school year, the move of GE classes to Liberty Station has proved to be a smooth one.
The decision to offer GE classes at Liberty Station came as a response to hitting the enrollment cap, the limit to the amount of students allowed to take classes on the main PLNU campus, according to Provost and Chief Academic Officer Kerry Fulcher.
“[It was] part of the strategic plan of the university to increase access to a PLNU education to more students who desire the kind of education that we offer,” he said via e-mail.
The move was part of President Bob Brower’s PLNU 2025 vision called “PLNU Extended.” This vision entails offering more courses in more locations such as Mid-City (Community Classroom), Liberty Station, and international locations.
“These all provide opportunities for PLNU to extend its presence and influence in local, regional or even global ways,” Fulcher said.
Another reason classes moved was to enroll more students and keep tuition costs down, said Dean of Arts and Sciences Kathryn McConnell, who has also coordinated class moves to Liberty Station.
“If we want to raise that cap and get more students here we can’t have them all on campus…we don’t have enough facilities here,” she said.“We’re moving as many classes as we can down to Liberty Station so that we can bring in more students, bring in more revenue, [and] keep student tuition down as much as possible.”
General education classes now offered at Liberty Station include Principles of Human Communication, Problem Solving, Christian Tradition, World Civilizations II, and New Testament History and Religion.
Most of the classes take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays so as not to interfere with nursing classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The majority of those classes are scheduled for the afternoon or evening.
McConnell hopes to keep this trend in order to make it easier for students to attend classes on the main campus.
“As we look forward we’ll try to be more strategic in what kind of classes we move down there,” she said. “I would guess we would try to move more evening classes down there so that there aren’t course conflicts for students.”
One-hundred and seventy-nine students attend GE classes at Liberty Station, many of them taking PLNU buses to get to class.
Freshman Harley Estrada, who is taking an 8 a.m. Principles of Human Communication class, said taking the buses created a sense of community between students.
“I kind of like it because it makes the class feel more closer together,” she said. “Being able to go from taking the shuttle together to walking to class and taking the shuttle back so it’s kind of nice.”
Buses leave 20 minutes prior to the beginning of each class. Estrada said the buses she’s taken have been on time. Although Estrada enjoys classes at Liberty Station, she finds the early bus departure difficult.
“It’s just kind of hard because it’s so early in the morning but other than that it’s interesting,” she said. “It’s kind of different, different setting then just the entire same campus every day so it’s kind of nice.”
Freshman Kelsey LaFrenz, a commuter taking a morning class at Liberty Station, also enjoys the classes although she has to take the bus so as not to lose parking later in the day.
“I like it,” she said. “It’s good. It’s a little bit of a struggle to get there in the morning cause I am a commuter student so I have to be here twenty minutes earlier to catch the bus to go over there.”
Both Fulcher and McConnell said they have not received complaints regarding the new move.
“Things are going fairly well,” Fulcher said. “Any time you enter into a new endeavor, there are small logistical issues that arise. These are all learning opportunities to help inform the process moving forward.”
McConnell plans to send a survey at the end of the semester in order to obtain student opinion and make further improvements.
Fulcher said the move can be beneficial for the future of PLNU.
“Because this is fairly new, it will take a few semesters for our culture to adapt to the idea that PLNU is broader than just the main campus,” he said.
Fulcher said that moving classes to Liberty Station gives students the opportunity to experience San Diego.
“In addition to the educational benefits of giving additional teaching space, Liberty Station is a quality venue in a great location that gives us some excellent opportunities to do some things in San Diego that we have not been able to do in the past,” he said.