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THE STAR NEWS - New Chula Vista university plans to start small

MAY 16, 2020 | The Star News - Chula Vista & National City By Albert Fulcher

Opening up this fall, Chula Vista Christian University is a new model of higher education focused on the needed demand for the next generation of students. It offers degrees in science, the arts, emergency response, engineering, mathematics, ministry and has included a trade skill apprenticeship model.

Lisa Dunne, Chula Vista Christian University president, said college graduations in California are not that impressive.

“I’ve been teaching for about 25 years. I’ve taught at some of the largest schools and some of the smallest. What I’ve seen is this decline in human engagement,” said Dunne. “A lot of this is because of the methodology used today that unfortunately is not tailored to generation Z. After being a professor and caring about my students and wanting to see them succeed, not only in the classroom but after they graduate, I began looking at another way to teach them. I actually filed for the CVCU in 2012, a year before I moved to San Diego from Sacramento from a school that I started up there.”

Dunne said 2020 is the year that this is coming to Chula Vista.

“I love Chula Vista. I live here in Eastlake,” Dunne said. “My family is here, my friends live here, my church is here, and this is my community. We wanted to serve the community with a grassroots movement that is focused on the people of Chula Vista. We had the mayor, City Council members and a couple of developers down at City Hall and we started looking at what did the city really need.”

Dunne said with the makeup of the 268,000 people in Chula Vista, its growth, and industry businesses moving in at a rapid rate, that she wanted the university to make a local impact.

“I want my city to feel that the students have been trained and have opportunities,” said Dunne. “It really is more than just the university. We want to impact people and families. We want to empower parents. We want to promote critical thinking, literacy and strengthen the bonds within the community in the areas where we are planting in this city.”

Dunne said its STEAM training is needed in higher education, especially math.

Dunne said one of CVCU’s missions also addresses the state’s retention and indebtedness rates by empowering students to achieve their educational dreams without the burden of student loan debt. According to, California’s statewide college dropout rate teeters at 50%, with student loans representing a staggering 1/10th of the nation’s $1.5 trillion current student loan debt. To counter these statewide statistical tragedies, CVCU offers debt-free higher education in a student-driven, tutorial modality that is proven to increase both retention and graduation rates.

“The average state of pay at private colleges is about $30,000,” said Dunne. “Living here the costs range is between $12,000 and $17,900 at a private high school. We wanted to make sure that we were on par more with the high school rate rather than the college rate so students could pay by the month.”

CVCU’s model is that students go to class two days a week, and have floating hours as needed to work independently with their mentors. But on their other three days, they are expected to go work in the community, interning and being a part of what is happening in the community.

“It puts them immediately into the college environment and the work environment,” said Dunne. “So they see that they are developing in the workplace and also responsible paying for their education as they go. Our rate is around $12,000. We are way lower than most private high schools.”

Dunne said CVCU didn’t really want to contribute that bloated pricing that students are graduating at, encumbered by that student loan debt.

“If you look at our programs like the old apprenticeship model, the professor is not a lecture giving non-relation able,” said Dunne. “The professor is a guide, a mentor. It’s more of a hands-on small group model, small school approach. It demands a rigorous relationship. But in my experience, the model has proven to be way more effective.”

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