Big Idea Or Pipe Dream?


Big ideas.

Unlikely dreams.

Unreasonable hope.

How very American.

How like Payson.

A university branch campus? In Payson?

Wow. What are the odds?

Why, you might as well figure that a relatively flat stretch of meadows and pines in the approximate middle of nowhere will turn a spring roundup into the world’s oldest continuous rodeo.

You might as well assert that a town of 16,000 can get water rights to a distant reservoir and then build its own pipeline.

Why, that’s just silly. Be reasonable.

A university campus for up to 3,000 students in the heart of Rim Country?

You’re dreaming.

Thank goodness for dreamers.

Admittedly, it’s easier to conjure obstacles to the glimmer of a plan reported on today’s front page than to see the clear path to its realization.

But then – the hard-headed and implausible dreamers that built this country always had a way of turning difficulties into opportunities.

So you say the state budget has cratered and Arizona State University is laying off adjunct faculty: Where will the money come from?

Except, well, guys – we can educate a student for half as much at a branch campus as we can if we try to build more classroom space in downtown Phoenix. The need for education has already turned ASU into the biggest university in the country – it’s time to build a pressure release system.

So you say we’re facing hard times and international competition in a global world gone suddenly wobbly?

Well, that’s the perfect moment to invest in education – especially higher education. Given the new technology of learning that offers training and classes through the Web and other remote viewing technologies – even a branch campus can offer a wonderful diversity of classes and instructors.

So you say that despite record growth in enrollment, the Payson campus of Gila Community College still gets half as much money per student as other such colleges due to its provisional nature. Shouldn’t we focus on the college before we go for a university?

Except we might end up solving both problems at once – if the community college becomes a partner in the effort. The community college can then offer the lower division classes and the university can provide the upper division classes and a specialty focus that would define the campus – tourism? Forest ecology? Renewable energy? Hydrology? Native American Studies? Nursing? That’s how ASU West got launched in Glendale – in close coordination with Glendale Community College.

But that would mean finding community college leaders who have the vision to see the opportunity – rather than the threat of competition.

Oh. Wait. We do have that – as evidenced by the participation of several members of the college board in the current exploratory discussions.

In fact, Rim Country unexpectedly has nearly everything needed to turn this unlikely dream into a reality – to the great benefit of both the community and the students.

Thanks to the audacity and tenacity of the dreamers who went before, we have the space and now we have the water. The community college has 40 acres available now – and we have recently completed a Forest Service land exchange that creates another great block of opportunity. We’ve even got a redevelopment district centered on Main Street.

Of course, we denizens of Rim Country have also demonstrated a certain persistent opportunity to get in our own way.

Different people have different dreams.

Some people have found a refuge here – a place to retire and savor life and breathe the air – without sitting in traffic or standing in line or contending with strangers.

Others want to build a life here – for themselves and their children. They want more business and bustle – and some way for their families to grow without scattering.

And, of course, that’s the very thing that makes this opportunity so exciting. This is just the sort of change that will serve the needs of even those different dreamers – enriching the life of the whole community.

That’s why we’re so happy that the Rim Country has leaders right now willing to dream big – and why we’re confident that the community will unite behind the idea.

It’s so bold. So unrealistic. So creative.

So Payson.


Ronald Hamric 8 years ago

This halcyon view reminds me of an article in the Roundup many years ago. It described a family that packed up all their belongings into the family station wagon along with all the kids and headed west from Ohio. The head of the household on arriving in Payson felt it was just the perfect place to settle and continue to raise their kids. Much to their consternation they soon learned that there were no jobs available in the area that would support their decision to settle here. Instead of relocating to an area that provided more opportunities for employment, they instead began demanding that the town of Payson immediately begin attracting industry that would provide jobs and therefore cement their ability to live where they chose, not where the jobs were. Want to build a life here? You had better be able to afford it going in or face the reality that you are going to be working in a low paying service type of job that caters to the needs of the retired senior population that predominates this region. A job that will probably not afford you the income to satisfy your goals or make ends meet. Reality is tough to confront sometimes, but it is no less reality regardless of the view from the other side of those rose colored glasses.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.