DSU’s Commencement to honor Class of 2019, first set of master’s graduates

Dixie State University’s 108th Commencement Ceremony will honor the Class of 2019, including the institution’s first class of graduate students.

Recognizing the academic accomplishments of the 1,828 students who have applied to graduate, including 17 students from the Master of Accountancy program, Dixie State University’s 108th Commencement Ceremony will be held on May 3 in Trailblazer Stadium. The processional of graduates will begin at 8 a.m. Seating is open for all guests and doors will open at 7 a.m.

Steve Starks, president of Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment and the Utah Jazz, has been selected as the featured commencement speaker. In his role as president, to which he was named in March 2015, Starks is responsible for the NBA’s G-League Salt Lake City Stars, MiLB’s Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, Vivint Smart Home Arena, Megaplex Theatres, the Tour of Utah professional cycling race and the sports radio stations comprising The Zone Sports Network.

Starks, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University in 2003, is currently the chairman of the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Governors and serves on the advisory board for Silicon Slopes.

Braxton Thornley, who has been named the valedictorian of the Class of 2019, also will address his fellow graduates at the ceremony. During his course of study at Dixie State,Thornley decided to pursue a people-centered career and chose to earn a bachelor’s degree in English education because he’s always had a knack for writing and wanted to make an impact on people’s lives. He is completing his student teaching at Dixie High School this month. 

Also as part of the commencement ceremony, honorary doctorate degrees will be presented to J. Ralph Atkin and Terri Lynne Kane.

Atkin, who founded SkyWest Airlines in 1972 and served as the first CEO and later as the chairman of the board for 20 years, has been a life-long resident of St. George and supporter of Dixie State. He is a member of DSU’s National Advisory Council, recently taught an entrepreneurial business class at the university with other retired CEOs and co-chaired the institution’s Centennial Campaign Committee with his wife, Cheri Bennett Atkin.

After earning an associate degree from Dixie State College, Atkin went on to earn a bachelor’s in accounting from Brigham Young University, master’s in business administration from Golden Gate University and a juris doctor degree from the University of Utah.

Kane, the associate chief operating officer of clinical programs and services at Intermountain Healthcare, leads the development and deployment of best care practices and optimal care models across the enterprise, including 23 hospitals and more than 160 clinics. Additionally, Kane is leading Intermountain’s efforts to create seamless patient journeys across the continuum of care, lower costs through standardization and appropriate utilization and allow for the implementation of innovative technologies.

Kane, who earned an undergraduate degree in nursing from Weber State and a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix, is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and participates on a variety of local and national advisory boards.

Prior to the Commencement Ceremony, the annual Dixie Awards will be held at 7 p.m. on May 1 in DSU’s Eccles Fine Arts Center Mainstage Theatre. This ceremony honors Dixie State University graduates for their contributions inside and outside of the classroom.

To learn more about Dixie State University’s 108th Commencement Ceremony, visit dixie.edu/commencement.