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Friday, January 20, 2017

Despite Roundup's claims, former SLE member says "ASU campus in Payson is still illusory"

ASU mascot Sparky sticks a fork in plans for Payson campus.

Dear Editor,

In December of 2011, I resigned from the board of the SLE that was purposed with bringing an ASU campus in Payson into fruition.  At that time I articulated my belief that such a campus was not imminent.  The Payson Roundup had consistently reported the contrary, and there were some angry responses to my statements.  It was presumed I was a naysayer, and that I did not want this campus to happen.  The opposite was then and continues to be true – it would be wonderful for Payson to have an ASU campus.

I write this follow-up today because I fear the promise of an ASU campus in Payson is still illusory, at least in the near term.   Though land was purchased from the Forestry Service with money paid to the Mogollon Health Alliance from the sale of the Payson Regional Health Center to Banner for this purpose, ASU has still not committed to it.  The amount and focus of student demand is not fully researched, negotiations with ASU have not started in earnest, and even if a proposal does make it up to the Regents, approval is not something that is either speedy or inevitable.

The question people have asked me over the years is what has propelled leadership to so often assert an imminent start to a project that never materializes.   Concerns about nefarious self-deals and evil intent abound.  I cannot guarantee that such impropriety is absent in the equation, but I can think of other reasons why the myth is kept alive.

Some people genuinely believe that the dream itself has value irrespective of whether it manifests. I have heard that the mere promise of a campus boosts home values and attracts business.  Although it is not generally a good idea to build the future on a false foundation, hope is a strong motivator.

Also, it is not uncommon for people who make bold assertions to stick to their story, no matter how unfounded their claim.  The reasons for that are not always malevolent.  Wishful thinking causes many of us to self-delude.  This campus is something we all want – we all hope it can happen.   Many may choose to believe it is around the corner based on wishing it to be so.

I wish very much for this campus to become a reality, but I respectfully disagree with the assertion that we will soon have a deal with ASU to start building.  We may get there eventually, but nothing indicates that we are getting close now.

Suzanne Cummins


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