Christian College Turns Down Free Campus

An Arizona college has backed out a deal for a free 217-acre campus in Northfield, Massachusetts, citing unanticipated costs and significant resistance from the town.

Grand Canyon University, a for-profit Christian college announced last week they would no longer pursue opening a campus on the former Northfield Mount Hermon site. The college says it would have cost tens-of- millions of dollars to make necessary infrastructure improvements to house 5-thousand students. The college also says many Northfield residents were uncomfortable about the school bringing a large number of students to the town of 3-thousand people. Grand Canyon became the second group in less than a year to turn down the free piece of property due to financial reasons. Tom Hutchison is Northfield’s Town Administrator. He says the town cannot afford to pay for any infrastructure improvements surrounding the property.

“The town has about a $6.6 million operating budget, out of which, $4.1(million) goes to the schools. So we’re really left with two and a half million dollars in operating funds. And that’s really not sufficient for the town to provide the any increased infrastructure needs for any group that might come in.”

The founders of the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby retail chain bought the land in 2009 to donate to a Christian group. Jerry Pattengale represents the land owners. He says they will continue to consider institutions with enough money to cover developing the campus.

“We tried our best twice, and we’ll keep trying. We know we could divide it up. We know we have a lot of groups that would like a building or two. It makes more sense for the town and for the campus to have one major recipient.”

Some Northfield residents protested this winter when the late Reverend Jerry Falwell’s right-leaning Liberty University emerged as a possible candidate.