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SAN DIEGO TRIBUNE - Private Christian university will open this fall in Chula Vista

School hopes to offer small classes and expand enrollment over next decade


APRIL 14, 2020 | 11:35 AM


A private Christian university will open this fall in Chula Vista with 20 to 30 students, with plans to expand enrollment to 1,300 to 2,000 within a decade by offering small classes that emphasize the Socratic method of teaching.

Chula Vista Christian University, or CVCU, says the school hopes to initially operate out of city-owned property in Eastlake, one of the fastest growing communities in Southern California.

The university is negotiating for quarters in a city park off Hunte Parkway.

The city “has 250,000 people and no university,” said Lisa Dunne, president and founder of CVCU. “We have the potential to have a tremendous educational impact by using the small-group model of learning.” Chula Vista has been trying for a long time to persuade a four-year public or private university to move to the city and has set aside nearly 400 acres for campus development. The University of Saint Katherine, a private orthodox Christian school based in San Marcos, is interested in the site but currently doesn’t have enough development money. The California State University system placed Chula Vista on a short list for a new campus, but the CSU also lacks development money.

Southwestern College, a two-year school, plans to offer courses on its Chula Vista campus that will enable students to earn a baccalaureate degree at San Diego State University. But the timing of the program could be affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Dunne believes CVCU can establish a foothold by offering classes that begin with a 10-minute overview by the professor followed by 30 to 40 minutes of dialog with students. Classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students would have access to faculty the rest of the week digitally or in person. The arrangement is meant, in part, to allow students to hold jobs to help pay for tuition, which will cost $12,500 per year. She also said that CVCU will emphasize “hands-on experience that prepares students for the workplace ... One of my concerns is that professors (at other universities) are more interested in being on a soapbox for some cause rather than educating students.” The university’s board of directors includes Audrea Decker Taylor and Gina Loudon, conservative political commentators. Loudon also is national co-chair of Women For Trump. “We are a Christian school and you will see conservative values among members of our board,” Dunne said. “A student who doesn’t want that wouldn’t be in this environment.”

Staff writer Gustavo Solis contributed to this report.

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