ST. GEORGE — Another year of challenges, progress and growth has come and gone for Dixie State University, with highs and lows summarized by the State of the University address given by President Richard B. Williams on Thursday.
“This year has been a successful year and the first year of our launch of Trailblazer Distinction (the 2020-25 strategic plan),” Williams said. “I get the honor to come here and I get to talk about the heroes of Dixie State University. I get to talk about the faculty and staff and all the wonderful things they’re doing.”
The address focused on the university’s five strategic goals outlined in the most recent plan: academic distinction, strategic enrollment growth, institutional capacity and performance, community as university and faculty and staff life.
Pursuing academic distinction, the university will continue to emphasize it’s comprehensive, polytechnic education model, Williams said. In the last year, Dixie State has added three bachelor’s degree programs, three associate degree programs and 23 certificates.
New certificates cover a wide range of disciplines, including leadership, marketing, applied statistics, music technology and wellness coaching to name just a few.
To meet students’ needs and to continue operating smoothly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, faculty and staff worked extremely hard to modify their curriculum and instruction, Williams said.
“This year has been a little bit different, in that all these accomplishments that I’ll discuss today have been during a global pandemic. We’ve kept open, we’ve educated students, we’ve blessed their lives and they’ve blessed our lives. I’d really like to thank our entire campus community for keeping our institution open.”
In addition, the university president shared the explosive growth seen over the past five years, with enrollment increasing from 8,503 students in Fall 2015 to 12,043 in Fall 2020. Concurrent enrollment of students in high school also rose 260% over the same period, and the university expanded resources and tools for nontraditional students by establishing the Center for Adult and Professional Education.
Dixie State opened two new buildings on campus while making improvements or completing renovations at four other locations. The Science, Engineering & Technology Building added 120,000 square feet of classroom and lab space, while the Campus View Suites II expanded on-campus housing by creating living spaces for 534 students.
“I get asked all the time, ‘What is your favorite building that’s been built?’” Williams said. “I don’t know if this is my favorite building, but Layton Construction made it very easy for me to love this (Campus View Suites II). They allowed me to get in the backhoe, and it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had.”
Dixie State partnered with the University of Utah’s dental program to update the DSU Dental Hygiene Clinic, and the school added a new satellite education center in Hildale.
The remaining building projects related directly to the university’s newly acquired Division 1 athletic status. Williams said that Dixie State is in the middle of a large expansion project for Greater Zion Stadium, and recently renovated the old fitness center into a state-of-the-art sports medicine facility.
He also shared the announcement by the Western Athletic Conference – which the university joined in Fall 2020 – that five new schools would join the conference in Fall 2022: four universities in Texas and Southern Utah University.
“Those that have been here in the past know what a rivalry this will be,” Williams said. “We are going to have to travel to Cedar to make sure we pack those stands.”
Williams reviewed the progress of the name change process that began last year and thanked all those who contributed their time, talents and opinions to the complex process. He also addressed community engagement, enhanced data gathering to improve student and faculty experience, and ongoing partnerships with the business community in Southern Utah.
Dixie State’s experienced significant increases in donations over the past year. Annual giving increased by 56%; employee giving increased by 15%; and corporate partnership revenue increased by 131%.
In his closing remarks, Williams said:
I think often of those first pioneers that came in … and parked their wagons on our campus. It’s said that one of the first things that they did was start school in the back of a wagon. I have no doubt that if they were here today, they would be proud that not only is Dixie State University serving our local region, but also our state, the surrounding region, the nation and now blessing the lives of those internationally. It’s a great day to be a Trailblazer.
The full meeting is available to view as a recording on YouTube.
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