ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University celebrated the start of its next on-campus housing building project with a groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon.
Dubbed Campus View Suites II, the project is larger than the nearby Campus View Suites complex and nearly doubles the amount of student housing on Dixie State’s campus. The groundbreaking for the new complex is also one of many that has taken place on the university’s campus in recent years and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future as the school’s student body continues to grow.
“Our Student body has been growing by leaps and bounds,” Dixie State University President Richard Williams said. “We have a great student body and we need to meet their needs for living on campus.”
Last fall, the university recorded over a 12% increase in student enrollment from the previous year, Williams said. Spring enrollment numbers compared to this time last year have also jumped 18%. The student population of Dixie State is currently around 11,200 people.
With the increasing enrollment comes the need to house those students. While there are private off-campus options, Dixie State has thus far invested nearly $70 million in new on-campus housing, starting with the first Campus View Suites complex that opened in August 2016, and provided 352 additional on-campus beds. That complex was the first on campus housing project Dixie State had been built in nearly 50 years.
Prior to the ribbon-cutting for Campus View Suites I in October 2016, Williams said in a statement that studies show that students who are able to live on campus have a higher rate of success in college, and the university was committed to providing ways to support the students so they can achieve their goals. He said much the same Friday during the groundbreaking.
“We know nationally that students who live on campus are more successful and satisfied in their college experience,” Williams said.
Williams also said students living on campus tend to get better grades and may go on to graduate school while also keeping close ties with their university.
Within view of the Campus View Suites I, the second and larger complex will offer over 530 beds and is expected to be completed by fall 2021. Campus View Suites II is also five-stories tall and covers 140,000 square feet.
According to Dixie State, the new building will feature shared living space, restrooms and a kitchenette as well as a variety of bedroom options, such as private, shared and semi-private rooms. It will also include a large courtyard, pickleball courts, an outdoor hammock garden, a fitness room, lounges and community kitchens offering student-residents various areas to socialize and study.
“It’s built and designed to drive student success,” said Joe Smith, of the Method Studies architectural firm.
Valerie De La O, a Dixie State student and resident assistant at Campus View Suites I, said being able to live on campus and grow alongside her roommates and friends had been a great experience.
“Being supported emotionally, socially and academically by my resident assistant as a freshman gave me the tools I needed to success,” De La O said.
Campus View II Suites is replacing the Shiloh Hall which has served the university’s on campus housing needs for 60 years.
Lee Bunnell, who attended Dixie State when it was still Dixie College in 1963, stayed in the Shiloh Hall and shared fond memories the friends he made there as well as his time as a resident assistant. However. Lee also said it was time for the old dormitory to go.
“We’re drawing a curtain on an episode in the history of Dixie State,” Lee said.
Campus View Suites II is just one of many new, ongoing and future projects that will add new facilities to the university and change how it looks in the next five years.
In November, the university opened the new 155,000-square-foot Human Performance Center and broke ground for a new science, engineering and technology building in October. A recent agreement made with Washington County will also help usher in the next phase of work on the newly named Greater Zion Stadium.
As the student body is projected to continue growing, a Campus View Suites III is also in the works, as is a general class room facility. Growth may also get to the point where the school needs to build a second science, engineering and technology building, Williams said.
“I think we’ll see over the next five years that there will be a tremendous need to add additional buildings and we look back a decade from now, it’ll be a much different campus,” Williams said.
As Dixie State University is also landlocked in the downtown area of St. George, Williams said the school is asking the Legislature for $10 million to buy 126 acres in the area of the Southern Parkway and River Road for future expansion.
Dixie State’s growth is also evident in the university’s academic offerings, as the institution has added 16 programs in the past year, bringing the university’s total offerings to 11 associate, 45 bachelor’s and four master’s degrees.
Williams gave credit for Dixie State’s growth and expansion to the strategic five-year plan the university launched in 2015.
“We’ve focused a lot on student success, a lot on new academic programs,” Williams said. “So our students can come here – they don’t have to come for two years, they can come for all four years and they can stay for six years if they want a master’s degree… We’re seeing this tremendous growth because our strategic plan worked and we’re excited about the next one.”
St. George Mayor Jon Pike, who is also a member of the university’s board of trustees, said he felt that whatever benefits the school also benefits St. George.
“In my view, everything that helps the university also helps the city,” the mayor said. “So I see economic development linked hand-in-hand with education, and its great to be partners with Dixie State University and all of our other educational institutions.”
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