Come January, Doane College graduate student Mana Farahani's commute will be about 50 miles shorter.
She has been driving from Omaha to Lincoln once a week for her management classes. When Doane's new Omaha campus opens near 147th and F Streets, she and many of the 120 other Omaha residents enrolled in Lincoln will be able to get the same degree much closer to home.
“It will be amazing, avoiding that drive and being able to get a good night's sleep, do homework and not be completely exhausted,” Farahani said.
Doane's fourth campus will start offering classes in January in a rented space geared toward adult commuter students.
The private college's home base is a traditional undergraduate-style campus in Crete, but campuses in Lincoln, Grand Island and soon Omaha are nonresidential and geared toward adult students.
Janice Hadfield, dean of Doane's graduate and professional studies programs, said the college has long offered master's degrees in education at a satellite campus at the Omaha Home for Boys. That degree will remain at the satellite location for now, Hadfield said.
Doane hopes to build on recognition it has in the area.
“We still have a little work to do in Omaha for folks to get to know Doane,” Hadfield said.
The campus will offer degrees from Doane's School of Graduate and Professional Studies, with eight undergraduate and three graduate degrees that share a common core of a few classes — counseling, business, management and communication among them.
Eventually Doane hopes to add more courses and majors to the Omaha campus.
In Lincoln, 13 majors are offered in the graduate and professional studies programs.
Doane's market research showed that expansion into Omaha would mean 87 percent of Nebraska's adults would be within 50 miles of a Doane campus, Hadfield said.
Working adults are the target students for the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, with flexible schedules, hybrid online and classroom delivery, and a 14-to-1 student-to-professor ratio.
The new campus will be staffed by adjunct faculty and a few administrators, said Colleen Haack, director of the Omaha campus. It will have capacity for about 300 students.
Student support staff, like financial aid or career assistance staff, will not be added. Instead, staff from other campuses will be in Omaha as needed.
“Students will not need to travel to get their needs met,” Haack said.
A newly formed Omaha alumni group may also help students feel more connected once classes begin, said Toni Diel, who is on the leadership team for the Omaha alumni.
She attended the Crete campus in the 1960s, she said, and has seen a daughter and granddaughter attend the commuter-based Lincoln campus. The Omaha alumni are hopeful they can help recruit Omaha students and better connect them to potential networking and job opportunities, Diel said.
The alumni group will host an open house at the new campus on Dec. 17.
“We'll be working on getting the Doane name and the whole picture out there,” Diel said.