On the EDge: SUU smacks down Harry Reid

OPINION – Southern Utah University has long proclaimed its motto: “Learning lives forever.”

It’s a noble ideal, one that should take hold within those who believe that the process of growth and education should never end.

Unfortunately, it seems, not much has been learned by the community SUU serves.

A group of residents has politicized the university, raising $40,000 to remove Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s name from the SUU Outdoor Engagement Center.

Cedar City Councilman Paul Cozzens and Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller helped spearhead the effort.


They don’t like his politics and even though Reid is the most noteworthy of SUU graduates, they don’t like his name displayed on one of the university buildings.

I lived in Iron County for 10 years, so I am not surprised. I know the political climate there. It still doesn’t relieve my disappointment in an institution that is supposed to be dedicated to higher learning, which boils down to looking at issues from more than one perspective.

In fact, on its website, SUU claims that community and social responsibility is one of its core themes, saying: “Essential to the educational process is a sense of an academic community wherein collaboration, diversity, respect for all people, concern for the environment, civility, and shared governance are cultivated.

“Faculty, staff, and alumni model these values as they contribute to and serve as stewards of the community’s shared resources.

“SUU encourages the discussion and exploration of differing views while recognizing the cherished individual freedom to reach one’s own conclusions.

“Developing students into productive responsible citizens involves the thoughtful exploration and application of ethics and values and the acknowledgment of the responsibilities one has locally and globally.”

This decision, laid down by SUU President Scott L. Wyatt, in no way reflects the desire to “encourage the discussion and exploration of differing views while recognizing the cherished individual freedom to reach one’s own conclusions.”

It shows shallow leadership that is based on monetary merits rather than the broadening of a young student’s perspectives. Of course, if you read any of the biographical material related to Wyatt, you quickly see that he has a knack for fundraising. To his credit, Wyatt did not accept the $40,000. He didn’t have to, because, quite frankly, the money spoke for itself. It told him that if he wanted to tap friendly resources in the future, he’d better toe the line.

He then tried shuffling the deck again, dealing out some spin about how it was “confusing” anyway because nobody associated Reid’s name with the outdoors even though the Senator has been heavily involved in legislation geared towards environmentalism, public lands, and national parks.

The waffling raises questions about Wyatt’s leadership abilities. If this decision is any indication, it appears that SUU will continue the dearth of leadership that followed the retirement of Gerald R. Sherratt, who served from 1982 until 1997.

Make no mistake, Sherratt knew how to put the arm on donors. During his tenure, 16 new buildings were erected on the SUU campus.

However, the school’s reputation grew along with its architecture as it went from an enrollment of 1,800 to more than 5,500 students, attained university status, became a Division I competitor in NCAA sports, and became the home of the Utah Summer Games.

Sherratt’s devotion to the university was unmatched and his dedication to its advancement was the force that propelled SUU. Unfortunately, that drive and passion have been lacking in his successors.

Steve Bennion came in on a legacy pass because his grandfather was SUU’s first president.

Michael T. Benson was a money machine, raising more than $90 million for the university during his presidency.

Wyatt’s primary objective should be in recharging declining enrollment instead of playing the puppet to manipulative conservatives who are tarnishing SUU’s reputation with their one-sidedness.

You see, among the numerous names emblazoned on SUU’s buildings and programs are those of Dixie Leavitt, a longtime figure in the Utah Legislature, and his son, Michael O. Leavitt, who went on to become Utah governor before taking cabinet positions during the George W. Bush administration. There are those who, although small in number, do not particularly align themselves with either Leavitt. However, there has been no movement to disengage either of them from the university, and rightly so because they both went on to highly successful careers that add credibility to the university’s programs, just as Reid does.

But because of their hardcore partisanship, Cozzens and Miller don’t want any part of that legacy, even when it could help grow diversity on a lily-white, GOP-centric campus.

A university is supposed to be a place where philosophical, cultural, divergent positions are discussed, diagnosed, evaluated. It does not succeed unless it offers an often contrary stance, a challenge. That’s why it is just as important to study Marx, Lenin, Che, and Mao as it is to study Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, and Hancock.

By allowing himself to be bullied by a lynch mob that uses money instead of the rope to intimidate, Wyatt is violating that principle.

As a newsman, I have had the occasion to interview Harry Reid. As an analyst and columnist, I have had occasion to write about him. I admit that I am not overly impressed on a number of levels. But, in all honesty, I have not been impressed by many politicians, regardless of their affiliation.

Still, like him or not, Reid has risen from humble beginnings to a powerful, prestigious position and it is just as wrong to detach his name from the campus at SUU as it would be if the University of Wyoming severed ties with its most prominent grad, Dick Cheney.

There was a time when I had high hopes for SUU, but somehow, its commitment to diversity and intellectual stimulation was hijacked.

Bold instructors who challenged young minds suddenly went silent for fear of censure from the president’s office. Some left, some still hang on until a better gig comes along.

It’s, of course, the students who suffer when there is political interference with our education system.

We need more inquisitive, challenging minds to lead succeeding generations, not little Stepford Students, walking a political treadmill that goes nowhere.

SUU was correct when it strove to reinforce its motto, “Learning lives forever.”

Unfortunately, learning seems to be on its death bed and will remain so as long as the university involves itself in petty little political games.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • EL JEFE September 9, 2014 at 9:34 am

    If Reid is an example of what SUU has produced, I’d be actively pushing for the removal of his name on a building as well. And it is not surprising that you Ed, would encourage the studying of evil men such as Marx, Lenin, Che and Mao. The only good reason to study these evil ruthless killers, is to learn how to conquer their types in the future. Reid himself is an evil man. Yeah, he came from “humble” beginnings only to become a ruthless powerful and extremely rich corrupt senator. His time in the Senate is short.

    • Proudpatriot September 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

      I agree

    • mesaman September 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      I stand with you, El Jefe, and those who feel it was premature to offer Reid the satisfaction of having a building named after him. I will continue to donate to SUU and stay proud of it. I will never live long enough to accept Harry Reid as an outstanding politican. He is mean, vindictive, self-aggrandizing, and has gotten very rich as a senator. If it were not for the unions in Nevada, he would have been out of work now. Ed, you failed to mention your rabid liberal leanings. Nothing has changed since you left and came back, either here or with you.

  • Koolaid September 9, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I’m not surprised by the attitude and closed-minded nature of Cedar City residents, a town where incidents involving violence, drugs and domestic problems seem to be a regular occurrence, as well as an occasional report of inappropriate acts involving animals. Despite how questionable morality of these activities, those residents probably feel secure with their worthiness while questioning the worthiness of Reid. Maybe the things that happen is Cedar are common, everyday occurrences and the people are blinded by the koolaid they drink.

    • Just and Old Man September 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Now Now Farmer Brown said he would file charges against you if you would stay out of Cedar and Hurricane.

      • Just and Old Man September 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

        Stay OUT of

    • Proudpatriot September 9, 2014 at 10:36 am

      The only reason ” the things” are reported is because they are not common ,you moron. Let’s talk about something that is not reported because is so common, like black killing other blacks in Chicago .

    • bobber September 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

      I think the repeated sexual violations of domestic animals and livestocks happens on a scale we can’t even fathom in Cedar City. Maybe it’s just tradition though…

      • Proudpatriot September 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm

        Sounds like you got some inside knowledge .. is that why they call you bobber . Cause you troll for fish.

      • September 9, 2014 at 2:37 pm

        We need to hook up.
        Ed. ellipsis

      • Farmer Brown September 9, 2014 at 8:50 pm

        Bobby I told you to leave my livestock alone. Just keep your creepy hands (and other parts) off them

      • dbobber September 10, 2014 at 10:37 pm

        If thy worthiness be strong and thy soul pureth. Thou mayest recieve thy forgivness for thy misuse of thy flocks. Thy bishop shall forgivest thee. And blessed shalt thou be.

  • Proudpatriot September 9, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Bipartisan bills stop at Harry Reid’s desk, he only signs the ones he agrees with. Harry Reid will be named with Obama as the worst administration in history.

  • Just and Old Man September 9, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Remember these Obama is light skinned with no Negro Dialect, ObamaCare Victims are Liars, Romney doesn’t pay his taxes, D.C. Tourists Stink, Tea Party are Terrorists, and Koch Brothers are the Main Cause of Climate Change.
    Why the Whole University should be names after him.

    • Proofpatriot September 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      How about Harry Reids hate speech and lies about mitt Romney . … Mitt has not paid taxes sence 2008 , Mitt shows his tax return but Harry refused to . Harry Reid said mitt is not the face of Mormonism as if his calling is to judge . Old Harry would say anything for his political cronies .

  • KeepCalmAndSheepleOn September 9, 2014 at 10:33 am

    You say about the director “It shows shallow leadership that is based on monetary merits rather than the broadening of a young student’s perspectives” because he pulled Reid’s name down, yet it was money that prompted him to put Reid’s name up there in the first place! He had hopes that naming the building for Reid would encourage it’s namesake to donate money to SUU. That hope never bore fruit.
    You may consider yourself a newsman, but your article shows you to be more a liberal hack than anything. Harry Reid is anything but a n environmentalist. He serves himself and his interests, and has stymied legislation in the Senate for years.
    After his vitriol about the Bundy incident, it is obvious that Reid is a domestic terrorist working from within the government.
    If the people that choose to support SUU do not want this sleazy career politician on their building, then give the people what they want and stop pandering to a person that does not even represent this state.
    Your opinions are your own, but your ‘news reporting’ belongs in the Op-Ed….. Or maybe on Craigslist’s Rants and Raves.

    • BigJohn September 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      You sir, have pinned the tail on the donkey! Take note of this St George News, THIS man should be writing your opinion column!

      • Simone September 9, 2014 at 11:36 pm

        If you don’t like it, why are you reading it? For that matter, why take the time to comment on it? If you don’t want to hear an opposing side, go pick up The Spectrum, Deseret News, Saint George Magazine, Ensign or any of the 1,000 other right wing only rags in this town.

    • Simone September 9, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      If either one of you had actually read the entire article you would have seen this at the bottom of the page “Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News”.

      • KeepCalmAndSheepleOn September 10, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        Simone, you seem to really, REALLY care about the OPINION columnist. Wife? GF? Either way, you are obsessed with the guy.
        Fine, whatever. I read it, disagreed, and commented on it. If YOU have a problem with a disagreeing viewpoint being expressed, maybe you and the Opinionist should stick to posting on a private blog that you can edit/censor the comments and responses.
        And to use your own logic- why did you even read my comment? If you didnt like it, why did you comment on it?
        The Opinionist wrote his blog and posted it on a news site. He conveniently left out most of the facts. People have noticed this.
        Deal with it, ‘Simone’.

  • KeepCalmAndSheepleOn September 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Hahaha, as a side note- just look at the ‘related posts’ above. All pertain to the dishonorable Harry Reid.

  • Brian September 9, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Conservative groups are kicked off college and university campuses across America almost every day. Students are subjected to vile, radical leftist rhetoric daily. A single university refuses to genuflect to the most corrupt politician in America, and THEN you write an article about it. How about some consistency? You’re right that learning is dead when history is rewritten, the “science is settled”, and data is suppressed or altered to reinforce a power and money-driven agenda. Reid is clearly corrupt (I have lots of second hand knowledge of that, having received it in detail direct from the person with first hand knowledge) and biased. Having his name on a building there was a travesty.

    • Simone September 9, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      So let me get this straight, your “friend” has evidence that Harry Reid is corrupt. hm. That raises just one simple question. Why hasn’t he or she or they taken this evidence to the authorities? I don’t know about anyone else on this thread but I’m calling BS on your statement Brian.

  • Devo September 9, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Harry Reid is a cancer on America, he is a racist and a career politician who serves himself before our people and our constitution. This journalist also seems to be self serving and given his back patting on being part of the crooked and biased AP and the the “professional” lying club of journalists, better known as liberal mouthpieces I find this article to be pure drama, much like Shakespeare and less like real news, simply another leftists ideology claiming to be journalism… Pure propaganda

    • Simone September 9, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      Of course, when you consider that Ed’s column is an OPINION piece………

  • Simone September 9, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I lived in Cedar City and attended SUU in 2009 and 10 . I can tell you from experience that there are two kinds of people in Cedar City. There are the penniless but happy college age democrats from other regions and the old holier then thou Mormon elite Republicans who were raised there. There are so many of these college age democrats that ordinances prohibiting the discrimination of LGBT people in housing passed in 2010. In short, in Cedar City, people who think like the politicians you mentioned above are a dying breed and they know it. It has gotten so bad for them that they were willing to sacrifice the one and only thing they really care about outside of their “church” positions, money, to stop the university from giving recognition to a politician whose political views are not congruent with their own.

    • mesaman September 9, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      And you, Simone, being of average intelligence, didn’t have a clue about what you were getting into until you had spent one whole year here. Ah, the leadership we can look forward to years down the road. Sorta like the condition the federal government is now that the offspring of the 60’s hippies have overrun the democrat party.

  • Misty September 9, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I agree with Koolaid!! Cedar has so much hate for being a LDS town! They have become evil, hateful!! Evil is someone that thinks it’s ok to torture and disrespect anyone they is not on the Right! As hateful as Cedar residents are , I am sure Mr. Reid would not even care if you take is name off!! So go ahead and drink the Koolaid-aid!!

  • Me September 9, 2014 at 11:59 am

    “university involves itself in petty little political games.”

    That’s what universities and liberal editorialists do.

  • Emily September 9, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Its important to teach our kids good moral values which our nation was founded upon by a lot of hard reality and bloody wars and historic heros…. as well as being open to higher education and learning. We should also teach them to return with good honor to our college. If we can’t achieve this we will have to win our nation back with a repeat of the cycle of life and cycle of history which is really a waste of time for all of us. There is so much positive ahead for us…. our efforts should be focused on the good graduates and not those who are not representing us well or helping us. Thanks so much for letting us know of the wonderful folks willing to put forth the effort to stand up and help us remember the good standards available to those who fight to keep them. Perhaps the students will have the opportunity to see good in the world for their children when they attend SUU and it will be as great a school as when I attended and graduated. I will be as happy to send my kids and grand kids back to such a place where we are open to help our students see and respect different views but also have the courage to face and correct inadequate teachings and opinions. SUU will grow and be famous for the great things they continue to do in the challenging future. I hear so many people in the area here who are very disappointed in the way this man has changed his morals compared to how great he was when he was growing up. He is not a person the local people ideal at all. I hope he changes and gets back to the values he was taught and learned as a young person. We will support him if he could do that. Again thanks so much…..

    • Simone September 9, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      Look Emily…. This is so hard for me to say…..but please, please put down the pitcher. Thank you. I’m not saying that you need top give up the Kool-Aid entirely but, honey, yesterday you drank 40 glasses at Breakfast another 20 at Lunch and a full on 50 at dinner. I think that 110 glasses a day is more then any young woman Mormon woman should be drinking. No leave the pitcher alone for now. You can wait until I’m finished speaking. No im not saying that you have to give up the Kool -Aid entirely but I am going to ask that you cut it down to like maybe 1-2 glasses per day. I know it seems like a lot to ask but I know that you can do it. It’s for your own good.

  • Proudpatriot September 9, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Harry Reid building and new curriculum ….how to get rich as a public servant taken from the play book of Hillary Clinton , bill Clinton , Al Gore , Husain Obama , nancy Pelosi an expert on inside trading .
    Are we can name it after somebody that understands economics and actually works for there money.

    • Chris September 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      Your command of the English language is amazingly poor.

      • Proudpatriot September 9, 2014 at 9:06 pm

        Thanks, I will work on it . Meanwhile I will focus on what that has to do with the subject. And wonder why liberals attack personally when they are loosing a debate.
        Your comment was so brief it’s hard to form a opinion of you, but I can assume you a liberal and a product of higher education with knowledge far beyond most conservative understanding.
        So with your valuable time you scan for grammar.
        Moron : )

  • BigJohn September 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    While I don’t agree with the political involvement by Cozzens and his cronies, for some reason Mr Kociela decided to conveniently leave out the REAL reason that President Wyatt decided to have the name removed – the simple fact that Mr. Reid and his supporters pledged/promised money to the University, and as of date not a single dime has been given. His name was pre-maturely added to the building with the understanding that the donations and funding would follow, and they did not. President Wyatt has stated that they will definitely be willing to use the name in the future if funding for the proposed building can be obtained, but until that day happens I’m 100% behind the decision to have it removed, politics aside.

  • McMurphy September 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Political correctness on a college campus is ugly whether a liberal school whacking Republicans or a school in a conservative area whacking a Democrat

  • Mike Johnson September 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    What kind of community and church propagates such ugly, mean, hateful and backward people? These flocks are allot closer to Islamic extremist than they are to the teachings of Christ

    • proudpatriot September 9, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      Mike, you should go to a mormon church before you judge, I can attest to you that never is politics talked about.
      The above opinions are informed citizens.
      islamic extremists would have blown you up by now. if you where informed than you would know the differance.
      Why do liberals always have to exagerate to make their point?

      • Simone September 9, 2014 at 11:56 pm

        Proud Patriot. Im sorry but you’re wrong. Politics is talked about in LDS Churches I know because I was raised in a community that was primarily LDS and became a member myself a few years ago. I stopped going to church about 6 months ago because I found that I disagreed with most of the church’s teachings. I can personally attest you you, John that politics is talked about by many including members of the individual ward and church leadership on the pulpit. Oh and before you say it, it’s not just one ward that was involve in this. I have lived in a few states and attended many different wards with friends and family Almost every single one of them mentioned politics or political issues at least once, especially around election time. Now for my proof. In 2008 The First Presidency sent a letter to “to Church leaders in California to be read to all congregations on 29 June 2008”. Here is the link. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/same-sex-marriage-and-proposition-8

        • Simone September 10, 2014 at 12:00 am

          I will point out that I could not find a copy of the letter on Google but this proves that church leaders DO get involved in political issues and that it is discussed by church leadership from the First Presidency all the way down to individual ward leadership.

    • Proudpatriot September 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Mike, Harry Reid has said much uglier things with a much bigger and loader platform, all in the name of political gain.
      The comments above are from informed citizens reacting to a real threat.
      If they where like Islamic extremists you would be beheaded by now.
      If you where informed you would know the difference .
      The above comments are toward Harry Reid , your attacking a community and church’s . You need to take a closer look at your self.

  • Koolaid September 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I bet the majority of those residents voted for Swallow and Shurtleff.

  • Abe September 9, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Can’t say much either direction on the opinion but the writing could use some help on this article Ed.

    “This decision, laid down by SUU President Scott L. Wyatt…”

    Without even bothering to talk about said decision.

    Painful to read and try to understand the first few paragraphs. Interesting to hear about a current event.

  • Voice of Reason September 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    For anyone who’s willing to learn the actual reasons behind the name change (not that many actually care), I give you a great blog post (not my blog) explaining the why of what really happened. http://mountain-dude.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-harry-reid-outdoor-engagement.html It’s not as complicated or dramatic as some people are making it out to be. SUU and Cedar City are both great places to be.

  • Gunner September 9, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority predicted that Barack Obama could become the country’s first black president because he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
    That’s what Harry Reid believes is all the qualifications you need to be president.

  • Visiting Anthropologist September 10, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Thanks to everyone who commented. You’ve provided great material for a book I have in mind about the life and culture of Utah’s Dixie. Great stuff! This’ll show the world what Utah’s Dixie is made of. For better or for worse.

    • bobber September 10, 2014 at 11:32 am

      They put the koolaid right in the tap water up there in cedar. You can tell by the kooky comments…

      • dbobber September 10, 2014 at 10:42 pm

        If thou bleseth thy koolaid and partaketh with a pure heart thou shalt be forgiveneth of thy transgressions and thou shalt liveth eternally with thy koolaid and thy flocks.

    • Ed Kociela September 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Contact me.

  • Farmer Brown September 10, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Bobber and Koolaid drink the Jimson Weed by the gallons. Just can’t get those two lads to leave my live stock alone.

  • rayjay1999 September 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Mr. Kociela your Communist views make you blind to the truth. Most here say that Reid’s name was removed from that building because Reid was supposed to donate to SUU as promised. Of course he never did. Yes those city councilman raised money. But I don’t think it was them who convinced Wyatt to drop the name. I mean let’s look at another college in the southern Utah area. Dixie State University. The mascot was changed because communist like you Mr. Kociela thought it was racist. People on the other side of that fight tried to save the old mascot the same way the group in Cedar City tried to remove Harry Reid’s name from that building at SUU. The Red Storm is not the same mascot DCU had 20 years Ago. So who do you think won that fight. College’s side with the leftist side of politics 110% of the time unless you are a private college like BYU or Liberty University. Even in ultra Conservative Utah. The moment Reid donates money to SUU, He will get his name on a building. Also a few years back one of Reid’s son’s was on the Utah state board of Regent’s when Jon Huntsman JR was Utah state Governor. Mr Kociela you mentioned how Marx, Lennon, Che, and Mao, need to be studied as much as much as our nations founders. Well I agree agree with that. But instead of putting them on a pettastool. They should be shown as evil men in history like how Hitler is considered. You can debate me all you want. But listen to the Beatles song revolution and you will know what they thought of chairman Mao. And yes John Lennon was with Yoko when the song was made. Mr Kociela quit thinking Utah’s college system is listening to Right Wing Nut Job’s, because they already listen to left wing communists like you. Take it from a Right Wing Nut job me, myself, and I.

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