Regents approve tuition hike, Dixie State gets much-needed student housing; STGnews Videocast

ST. GEORGE – The Utah State Board of Regents convened Friday at Dixie State University in St. George, approving a 3 percent tuition increase for all eight Utah colleges and universities, the lowest increase in several years.

For a typical Utah resident undergraduate at DSU, that translates to a $114 increase in annual tuition, from $3,794 in the current year, to $3,908 in the 2015-16 school year.

“Dixie State University has the lowest tuition of all our peers,” Richard “Biff” Williams, Dixie State University president, said.

This year’s increase is the lowest systemwide average since the 1999-2000 year, the regents said. This is due to increasing investment by the Legislature, and increased efficiencies and cost-control by college presidents.

The tuition increases will go mostly to modest salary and benefit increases, as well as employee health insurance.

Sen. Steve Urquhart thanked the regents for the low tuition increase.

“You were very judicious, you were very conscientious of your students, thank you, thank you,” Urquhart said.

The regents reviewed and finalized both first- and second-tier tuition increases; differential increases, and new schedules for the 2015-16 year for all Utah colleges and universities.

Factors considered in setting tuition include state funding levels, institutional need, the Consumer Price Index, the Higher Education Price Index, regional tuition rate increases, and comparisons with western higher education systems.

Dixie State University

Williams is most excited about the approval of an on-campus student housing project that will house 350 students.

“We haven’t had new housing for 50 years,” Williams said, and the existing facilities are “quite blighted.”

During an inventory conducted last September, he said, the university was found to only have eight available beds.

“We’ve had an increase in students, and we need to start addressing that.”

Plans are in the works for the sale of two pieces of land on E. Tabernacle Street, which will also result in more student housing, Williams said.

“A private developer would like to come and build about 628 beds for our students,” Williams said. “He sees a need, and would like to invest in our community.”

The project will serve not only the university, but also the downtown area, by putting retail development on the bottom floor of the project.

“Housing is greatly needed, and I’m a little worried by the (LDS) missionary age change, the missionaries are coming back, so we’re going to have a huge increase of students in the fall,” Williams said.

The Church of Latter-day Saints announced in October 2012 that young men could begin serving missions at age 18, rather than 19; and young women could begin serving at age 19, rather than 21. Many who served a mission are expected to return home and start attending college in the fall.

Current estimates are for as many as 1,500 more students in the fall, Williams said, which would put DSU attendance at close to 10,000.

“We already saw an increase this spring, and we expect more this fall,” Williams said.

Other projects

The campus master plan was updated to accommodate the following projects:

  • Improvements to the Gardner Center including additional offices, and additions for expanding the dining room space, and relocation of the campus store
  • Hansen Stadium improvements include a 5,000-seat grandstand on the east side of the stadium, locker rooms for opposing teams, press box additions, resurfacing and improvement of the track and the addition of restroom and concession space
  • An updated building name and location for the new Human Performance/Student Wellness Center; the new location will be at the corner of 300 South and 700 East. The building will be an estimated 150,000 square feet, and will include classrooms, gymnasiums, an aquatic center, clinic space, labs and equipment, offices, dressing rooms and more

The Utah Legislature approved $3 million for the University Plaza Land Bank purchase during this year’s general session. This project involves 2 acres of property and four office buildings for classroom and office space.

New degree programs approved for Dixie State include a Bachelor of Individualized Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science (BA/BS) in Dance.

The Utah System of Higher Education is governed by the Board of Regents and is comprised of Utah’s eight public colleges and universities. The CEO of USHE is the Commissioner of Higher Education. For more information, visit higheredutah.org.

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