Southern New Hampshire University’s Library Learning Commons.

Southern New Hampshire University is branching out to the desert Southwest, but New Hampshire remains its “home base,” according to its president.

Plans call for a new operations center to open in early 2020 in downtown Tucson, Ariz., with about 100 staffers initially, ramping up to 350 workers by 2021, according to the university’s announcement Wednesday.

SNHU President and CEO Paul LeBlanc reassured the Granite State of its importance.

“Manchester is and always will be our home base,” LeBlanc said in a statement.

The university has more than 4,000 Manchester-based employees. SNHU has 3,000 on-campus students and 132,000 online students.

“We have a deep commitment to our Manchester roots and the Granite State, which will remain undiminished,” he said. “This new center is not a shift away from New Hampshire. We are adding space in the Millyard and building a new parking garage.”

SNHU’s physical campus straddles the Manchester-Hooksett line and also has expanded its presence in Manchester’s Millyard. It also has a wide following taking courses online.

Eligible SNHU employees will have the option to relocate to Arizona.

The operations center will house student-support staff, including academic advisers, student financial services staff, admissions and IT support.

“This new center will allow SNHU to better serve online students in Western time zones who currently only have access to live student services until” 9 p.m. Pacific time, according to the announcement.

“The Tucson center supports continued growth and global expansion,” LeBlanc said. “The new center allows us to better serve our thousands of students on the West Coast.”

SNHU conducted a nationwide search, narrowing its possibilities to six potential locations.

City of Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild welcomed the school.

“Our reputation for excellent customer service is one reason Southern New Hampshire University chose Tucson for this facility,” he said.