DSU’s first university commencement honors growing graduates, community partners

ST. GEORGE – Dixie State University will celebrate its first-ever university graduating class at its 102nd annual Commencement Exercises on Friday. The community is invited to participate in all activities.

Commencement activities

The main commencement will be held at 10 a.m. in the Burns Arena; graduates will begin the processional at 9:20, marching from the Eccles Fine Arts Center to the arena. Véronique Gillen, a senior computer science major from Marseille, France, will serve as the baccalaureate degree valedictorian commencement speaker, while Devon Montgomery, a sophomore general studies major from St. George, will speak on behalf of the associate degree class.

An honorary doctorate degree will be awarded to commencement speaker Dr. F. Ann Millner during the ceremony. In addition, Distinguished Citizen Awards will be given to three members of the community and two Southern Utah lawmakers will be presented with the DSU Board of Trustees “Excellence in Education Award.”

DSU will host six individual college convocations in two sessions, where graduates will be individually recognized and awarded their diplomas. The associate degree convocation will be held following the commencement ceremony in the Burns Arena at 11:45 a.m. At noon, the School of Arts and Letters and the School of Education and Integrated Studies convocations will be held in the Avenna Center Cox Auditorium and Student Activities Center (formerly the campus gymnasium,) respectively.

Beginning at 2 p.m., three more convocations will be held, including the Udvar-Hazy School of Business and the School of Communication at the Burns Arena, the School of Nursing and Allied Health in the Avenna Center Cox Auditorium and the School of Science and Technology at the Student Activities Center.

In addition, the annual “Graduate Luncheon” will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Gardner Center Ballroom. The luncheon is free to graduates; tickets can be purchased for $11.50 for adults and $7 for children age 12 and under. Tickets and more information on all commencement events are available by calling 435-652-7800.

Distinguished Citizen Awards

DSU will honor three Washington County residents as distinguished citizens for their exemplary service to the university and community.

John E. Anderson is a successful businessman who has both owned and managed many of the businesses with which he has been involved over the past 35 years. His education includes a bachelor’s degree in health care administration, degrees in financial management and corporate management and securities analysis earned in his native Australia. As a senior-level financial manager, he has experienced challenging positions within a diverse number of organizations both in the United States and overseas. His financial management expertise and entrepreneurial talents have maximized a variety of business operations with which he has been involved. He is an active volunteer within the community, including serving as a board member of the Washington County School District Foundation and budget chair for the cultural arts department and DOCUTAH at DSU.

Dixie Heaton Andrus grew up on a farm in Alton, learning the value of hard work, integrity and community service from her parents. After graduating from Valley High School, Andrus received her associate’s degree at then-Dixie State College of Utah and later earned a degree in elementary education from Utah State University. Education has been an important part of her life; she has served as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in the Washington County School District and spent several years teaching at DSU. She is also involved in her community, serving on the St. George City Adjustment Board, as state director for high school rodeo and serving in the Washington County Education Association, as well as volunteering in the political field and in her religion. She is married and lives in St. George.

A native of Davidson, Mich., Gloria M. Prahl has dedicated her life to furthering the success of women in education. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in education from Central Michigan University, she embarked on a 30-year career in the Flint Community School System, teaching many different grade levels and subject areas. Prahl retired from teaching in 1991 moved to Ivins in 1993 with her husband. She is a member of the American Association of University Women and served as president for four years. She was named the St. George AAUW Distinguished Woman of the Year in 2010 and 2012 and has received the AAUW Legacy of Leadership Award. She also helped create the eSMART summer camp for girls at DSU.

Excellence in Education Awards

DSU Board of Trustees “Excellence in Education” awards will be presented to Utah Rep. Don L. Ipson and Sen. Stephen H. Urquhart for their collective efforts in gaining university status for the institution earlier this year.

This past legislative session, Ipson sponsored House Bill 61, which called for DSU to attain university status. On Feb. 13, both the Utah House and Senate, where it was sponsored by Urquhart, passed HB 61 by an overwhelming margin. On Feb. 16, Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert signed the bill into law, officially making DSU the sixth university in the Utah System of Higher Education.

Institutional growth

DSU is slated to award 1,714 degrees (14 more than last year,) including a record 542 baccalaureate degrees and 1,172 associate degrees. Additionally, 225 vocational and technical certificates will be awarded.

Of the baccalaureate degrees to be conferred, just over half (281) of the graduates come from DSU’s four-year programs: Communication, integrated studies, business administration and elementary education. In all, students will be earning bachelor’s degrees in 20 four-year programs, including the first-ever graduating class in art.

Nine foreign countries and 35 states are represented in the class of 2013, while 88 percent of DSU’s graduates call Utah home. Washington County natives make up 71 percent of the graduating class, with 26 of the state’s 29 counties represented overall. Female graduates constitute 53 percent of the class and students range in age from 16 to 64.

This year’s graduating class also features a class of 41 high school students who will be awarded an associate degree as part of the Southern Utah Center for Computer, Engineering and Science Students Academy program. The SUCCESS Academy is a state-approved early college high school in partnership with Washington County School District and DSU. This academically rigorous and challenging program provides students the opportunity to earn an associate degree through an on-campus college curriculum while also completing their high school graduation requirements at their boundary high school.

Event details and contact information

Date: May 3

Time: All day

Location: DSU campus

Admission: Free (except graduate lunch, $11.50 for adults, $7 for children 12 and under)

Contact: Dixie State University – 435-652-7500

Submitted by: Dixie State University

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