Dixie State University making significant progress on strategic goals

DSUStateOfTheUniversitySharing the progress being made on Dixie State University’s strategic plan, DSU President Richard “Biff” Williams presented his State of the University Address Wednesday afternoon. “We are excited about what is happening at Dixie State University,” Williams said during his presentation. “There are a lot of positive things happening as a result of our efforts. It’s not my effort. It’s not individual efforts. It’s what we are doing together.” While discussing the strategic plan’s first goal, which focuses on promoting student success, Williams shared that the university increased its recruiting efforts in the last year. As a result, applications and admissions both went up, and Dixie State welcomed its largest freshman class ever this fall. The university is also initiating new retention efforts, encouraging all faculty and staff to play hands-on roles in helping students reach their goals and progress through their programs. Williams added that Dixie State’s new educational model, “active learning, active life,” is helping students succeed inside and outside of the classroom. The proposed Human Performance/Student Wellness Center will help accommodate this growth, Williams said. Identified by the student body as a priority for the last six years, the facility has half of its funding committed, as students have dedicated $20 million in student fees and donors have pledged another $5 million to the project. The university’s new 352-bed housing complex, Campus View Suites, which opened this semester, also makes it possible for DSU to welcome more students to campus. Working toward Goal 2, to broaden and enhance academic programs, Dixie State has formed a partnership with the University of Utah to offer some of the U’s nationally ranked degrees, such as the physician assistant, physical therapy and occupational therapy programs, on the Dixie campus. The university has also recently added bachelor’s degrees in digital film and exercise science, and baccalaureate programs in bioinformatics, applied sociology, information systems & analytics, art and nursing as well as more online programs and master’s degrees are also on the way. In an effort to invest in faculty and staff and accomplish the plan’s third goal, the university has funded faculty and staff professional development programs and funded an equity adjustment funding plan. “The best thing about Dixie State University is the people,” Williams said. “When we recruit faculty and staff, we want to make sure they want to stay here.” Working on Goal 4, enhancing support of inclusion and equity, Dixie State has appointed Christina Duncan as the university’s presidential fellow of diversity & inclusion. Additionally, DSU is offering cultural training and workshops. To engage the southern Utah region as part of strategic Goal 5, Dixie State continues to offer a variety of community engagement opportunities. The Institute of Continued Learning, which allows residents to take as many ICL classes as they wish for $45 a year, serves more than 1,000 members. Additionally, institute instructors have logged 10,000 volunteer hours and the program has funded four scholarships. The community has also stimulated the university’s momentum by contributing to campus. Through the Fire & Ice and American Association of University Women galas, the community has donated thousands of dollars to scholarships. Additionally, in the past year, Dr. Craig and Maureen Booth donated half a million dollars to the university’s honors program and Legend Solar co-founders Shaun Alldredge and Shane Perkins donated $10 million toward the renovation of the football stadium. One of the university’s most visible changes, perhaps, has been working on Goal 6, establishing a strong brand and identity. The 18-month process that resulted in the creation of the Dixie State University Trailblazer identity ignited a passion for the institution’s new mascot Brooks the Bison, whose face now can be seen all over campus and across the county. Additionally, the new identity inspires students, alumni and community members alike to be trailblazers and make a mark in their own fields of expertise. Looking forward, Williams said, the university will focus on continuing to make progress on the six goals within the strategic plan while accelerating the process of securing university stature, communicating across campus, differentiating itself from other institutions and celebrating its successes. “We don’t want to be like everyone else,” Williams said. “We don’t want to follow the path of all the other institutions; we want to chart our own course. We want to create our own trail, and we want people to follow it and say, ‘We are following Dixie State University because they are doing things right.’” To view President Williams’ State of the University Address, visit southernutahlive.com.