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GILBERT, Ariz. -- The Valley will soon be home to an extension of a Catholic university from the Midwest.

Chicago-based St. Xavier University plans to open an 80,000-square-foot campus in downtown Gilbert by early 2015. It will be the city's first college campus.

The school will offer several degree programs.

"It will bring with it its graduate and undergraduate nursing, education, and business [programs]," said Gilbert Economic Development Director Dan Henderson.

Henderson said that St. Xavier is highly-acclaimed.

"From a nursing perspective, it's the only 'Center of Excellence' designation for a faith-based university in the United States," he said.

The school, which will have about 600 students, isn't the only thing being built in the area.

"The voters of the town approved a 360-space parking structure," aid Henderson. "That will be just east of the university in our downtown."

Henderson said the school will add to the growing vibrancy of downtown Gilbert.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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