College students could return to the former Dana College campus in Blair as early as 2015 after Midland University finalizes a deal to buy the land and buildings.
Midland University in Fremont will close on the purchase of the former Dana property July 19, according to the university.
“We are eager to have the keys in hand,” said Midland President Ben Sasse in a statement.
Blair Mayor James Realph said the sale is good for the Blair community.
“I'm extremely excited that that's happening,” he said. “I mean, it can't do anything but be good for the community.”
Nate Neufind, a Midland spokesman, declined to say how much Midland is paying for the campus. The asking price was just under $6 million.
Dana College closed abruptly in July 2010.
Midland University has seen an explosion in enrollment since 2009, including about 300 students who transferred when Dana College closed.
It's now at about 1,100 students, up from a low point of about 600. Midland plans to raise $11 million for renovations to the Dana campus. Then in two or three years, it would open the property as a separate campus of Midland University, Neufind said.
Students probably will not travel back and forth between the campuses but will enroll in one or the other. But the two campuses might share some professors.
Neufind said the new campus probably will have an athletic program. He said officials hope to use “Dana” in the name of the campus somehow.
The next step is for Midland to raise the renovation money. Much of it will go toward maintenance that had been put off in the last few years of Dana College's existence.
Realph said he and other Blair residents are looking forward to the opening of the campus.
“We have a lot of Dana graduates that live in town, and obviously they're excited.”
Realph said people had worried about the economic impact of the college closing, but many former professors stayed in Blair. Officials didn't see the kind of sales tax revenue drop they feared.
He said he hopes the reopening of a campus will bring more money into the city.
“We're just kind of looking forward to it going up from here,” Realph said.
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