Dixie State plans campaign to aid ‘legacy’ students, improve communication with alumni

Dixie State University's mascot, Brooks the Bison, sits with children at the annual D-Week event celebrating Brooks' birthday on April 8, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University Marketing and Communication, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Dixie State University Alumni Association is working to establish a new “legacy campaign” that would offer scholarships and other services to the families of past students throughout their lifetimes.

John Bowler, Dixie State director of alumni relations, said the campaign will not only financially aid prospective students, but will also help Dixie State better understand the needs of its alumni by tracking them from birth to death.

He said the Alumni Association is trying to find a way to create and market services through Dixie State that would benefit alumni and the community. These resources might include subject-specific camps and online tools, such as an online aptitude test.

Bowler said the goal is to be able to offer time-specific gifts and services, like Trailblazer onesies after the birth of a child or offer tutoring groups to the middle-school children of alumni struggling in math. He said alumni could receive these services or other gifts for an annual fee, which would cover the cost but not create a profit for the Alumni Association.

“We’re not trying to make money on this,” Bowler said. “What we are trying to do is make an informational piece.”

The Dixie State University Stephen and Marcia Wade Alumni House, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University Marketing and Communication, St. George News

Using a customer relationship management software, the association is hoping to compile a database it will use to get to know alumni better and help Dixie State remain a part of their lives. The Alumni Association began the process of collecting information during the graduate fair hosted at the Alumni House on May 1-2.

“My desire is that we set the foundation right now for the next 20 years because it is getting harder and harder to get [the new generations] to come back…,” Bowler said.

He said this is the beginning of a 20-year plan, but he has broken that into five-year increments and a lot is already in the works. The top priority is to find the customer relationship management software and compile the database.

The Alumni Board will help create and maintain the structure and functions of the campaign in “as many ways as possible,” according to board President Kelli Prince. She said the decision of who is considered a legacy is a “fairly personal discussion” because the community is as much a part of Dixie State as the students are.

“The people of St. George are very passionate about DSU and feeling like it is part of them even if they didn’t attend,” Prince said. “So this discussion will be one that we consider very carefully but as to when that will take place I don’t know.”

To get the campaign started, however, the Alumni Association needs funding, and the association does this by asking for “value for value,” Bowler said.

The Alumni Association will start accepting $108 donations for Dixie State’s 108th birthday on Sept. 19, which will fund the spring and fall 2020 legacy campaign scholarships. The donations will be broken down: $20 for gifts to those who donate, $68 for legacy scholarships and $20 for funding the campaign, which encompasses the hiring of a coordinator.

Dixie State University hosts a tailgate party for the Dixie State and St. George communities in front of the Alumni House in honor of the east grandstand ribbon-cutting, Sept. 8, 2018, St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of Dixie State University Marketing and Communication, St. George News

The association is hoping to collect a minimum of 1,000 donations to produce about $60,000 that will be split in half: one half going toward legacy scholarships and the other going toward an endowment. The legacy scholarships would be ready to use by legacy students, and although the Alumni Board has yet to rule on who is included under the title of “legacy,” Bowler said children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, spouses and siblings would be included.

There is no date set for the launch of the campaign, Prince said, because the Alumni Association wants to focus on laying a strong foundation that will lend itself to supporting a prosperous launch and campaign.

“[The launch] will depend on the timing of everything else,” she said. “We don’t want to launch a campaign that isn’t ready to be successfully put out for public consumption.”

Bowler said there are two motivations for starting the campaign: to make Dixie State the obvious choice for legacy students and to help bring more “well-rounded people in [to] our community.”

Prince said she hopes this campaign will help make the Alumni Association and Dixie State relevant to more people around the community.

“We want [our legacy kids] here, and we haven’t been communicating that message very well,” Bowler said.

The Dixie State Alumni Association currently has two legacy tuition waivers that can cover 67% or 100% of the nonresident portion of tuition depending on GPA. There is also the “Golden Generation” scholarship, but applicants do not have to be a legacy to earn this scholarship.

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