Creighton Signs 'Landmark' Agreement with Arizona State University

Creighton Signs ‘Landmark’ Agreement with Arizona State University

Partnership to benefit Creighton and ASU students as Creighton prepares to open campus in Midtown Phoenix in 2021

By Eugene Curtin

A landmark partnership between one of the largest public research universities in the United States and the soon-to-be largest Jesuit, Catholic health educator in the nation will answer a dire need for health care professionals in Arizona and in the southwestern United States.

A partnership agreement between Creighton University and Arizona State University (ASU) was signed Feb. 21 at a Phoenix gathering of leaders from both universities, including the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, president of Creighton, and Mark Searle, PhD, executive vice president and provost of ASU.

The agreement will boost health education opportunities available to ASU students while establishing a student pipeline to Creighton’s $100 million Phoenix campus currently under construction at Park Central in midtown Phoenix.

“The partnership with Arizona State University is a landmark event,” Fr. Hendrickson said. “With this agreement, our Jesuit, Catholic University steps into a compelling new world. We have forged partnerships with other entities, in Denver, in Anchorage, the Dominican Republic, and more. But this unique agreement positions both of our universities for an unprecedented and exciting future, full of promise and significance.

“We are resolved that through our new Phoenix campus, Creighton University will become a major provider of health care professionals to this great city and state.”

“ASU is committed to advancing the highest quality education and use-inspired research, and to collaborating with forward-thinking partners like Creighton University to enhance accessibility and success for 21st century learners,” ASU President Michael M. Crow, PhD, said.

“Through our significant partnership, we are excited to create new knowledge opportunities for students and to broaden our capacity to generate positive and meaningful health outcomes for Arizona.”

Creighton alumna Sharon Harper, BA’69, a member of the governing boards of both Creighton and ASU, and a passionate and active supporter of Creighton’s Phoenix campus, described the agreement as “a dream come true.”

“Two incredible institutions, both dear to me, have joined hands to provide a shining example of pioneering and revolutionary innovation in health science education,” said Harper, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Plaza Companies, a premier Arizona real estate firm. “This agreement will transform how we meet our health care needs in Arizona, and how we serve our students, our patients and the entire community.”

Under the terms of the agreement, ASU students will receive priority consideration for enrollment in three Creighton health sciences doctoral programs, while ASU will welcome Creighton students to on-campus research projects and supplement instruction at Creighton’s health sciences campus in Phoenix.

The agreement provides space for ASU students entering Creighton’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions doctoral programs in pharmacy (up to 20 seats), occupational therapy (up to 30 seats) and physical therapy (up to 40 seats).

In return, students enrolled at the Creighton University Health Sciences – Phoenix Campus may engage in research activities at ASU facilities under the mentorship of ASU faculty, while ASU faculty will provide basic science instruction for first-year medical students enrolled at Creighton’s Phoenix campus.

Creighton medical students and students in ASU’s School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering are currently collaborating on multiple research projects, ranging in focus from diabetes to hypoglycemia, oncology, drug delivery, asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and more.

Eric Nguyen, a third-year Creighton medical student from Cerritos, California, who is working on a radiation oncology device, says Creighton medical students work cooperatively with ASU bioengineering students on all innovations.

“We identify clinical needs as we go through our rotations,” Nguyen said, “then we combine the clinical and engineering perspectives to innovate and create novel solutions.”

Once a need is identified, technical help is provided.

“The med students understand the unmet clinical needs, and our students offer technical solutions,” said Vince Pizziconi, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering at ASU, who oversees the student project teams. “They are all passionate about what they do, but the key is finding good projects.”

The partnership with ASU builds on the growing relationship between Creighton University and the city of Phoenix, where Creighton medical students have engaged in clinical rotations since 2005. In 2018, Creighton joined with Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Valleywise Health and District Medical Group, Inc., to form the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance — one of Arizona’s largest providers of Graduate Medical Education.

Creighton’s Phoenix campus is expected to open in 2021. When completed, it will be home to a four-year medical school and will accommodate nearly 900 students, including future physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists and physician assistants.