Dixie State University president shares about institution’s recent growth

Dixie State University is celebrating 110 years of offering quality education and community enrichment with a banner year of growth and accomplishments, DSU President Richard B. Williams shared during his annual State of the University Address on Thursday.

“Over the past year, Dixie State University has experienced incredible growth in academic programs, student success and facilities. This would not be possible without the hard work of our students, faculty and staff and the support of our alumni and community,” Williams said. “I am proud of what we have accomplished together and the educational opportunities we offer our students and community.”

Dixie State’s growth has been guided by the institution’s mission to be the only open, inclusive, comprehensive, polytechnic university in the nation. Over the last year, the institution developed its polytechnic education model, which offers students active learning opportunities, a strong foundation in liberal arts and sciences and career preparation. In addition to offering degrees in a wide range of academic disciplines, Dixie State is building an intensive focus on STEM and healthcare fields. In the past five years, Dixie State has added more than 100 degree programs, and 85 percent of them have been in STEM disciplines.

In line with this mission, the university also has added more real-world work experiences for students through internships, co-operative educational experiences, career curriculum and career coaching. To help students not only graduate career ready, but also get industry experience while they’re earning their bachelor’s degree, Dixie State created a Four in Four initiative, which makes it possible for students to graduate with two certificates and associate and bachelor’s degrees in four years.

Williams also shared that the university’s student body has recently grown; enrollment increased from 8,5603 students in fall 2015 to 12,043 in fall 2020. This growth was made possible in part by increased retention efforts such as identifying at-risk students and offering them easier access to advisors and special events.

Dixie State is extending learning opportunities to all ages, increasing the number of high school students in concurrent enrollment from 840 in 2015 to 3,025 in 2020 and reaching the retired population through the Institute of Continued Learning. Remote learning opportunities were added this year to address COVID-19 restrictions and reach housebound and assisted living participants.

The university also created more opportunities for lifelong learners by adding the Center for Adult and Professional Education, converting nine degree programs to digital format and offering more credential and certificate programs. A DSU Education Center in Hildale, created with the support of a $100,000 Perkins Grant, now offers seven certificate programs and concurrent enrollment opportunities to the Short Creek community.

Additionally, Southern Utah’s premier business development pipeline, Atwood Innovation Plaza, continues to serve the entire region. In fact, the hub for entrepreneurism and innovation has filed 158 patents, provided 608 business consultations and helped create 120 new jobs.

To further serve the communities of Washington County, the DSU City Alliance was established to connect campus resources with towns’ needs. This year, Dixie State partnered with St. George City to manage city growth, collect data for cost of living and economic development, fill city personnel needs, collaborate on policing efforts, foster community spirit and collaborate on facility needs.

Accommodating the growing campus, Dixie State added two new buildings this fall. The Science, Engineering & Technology Building houses 28 specialized labs and classrooms that make it possible for students to participate in hands-on learning opportunities in the STEM fields. Across campus, Campus View Suites II opened its doors to 534 students, allowing them to live seconds away from classes and campus resources.

The university’s Sports Medicine Center also opened this year and offers student-athletes NCAA Division I-level medical care and support. Additionally, an expansion to Greater Zion Stadium’s west grandstands, which will add press boxes, event space and locker rooms, is expected to be complete in spring 2022.

Trailblazer Athletics continue to offer the community entertainment after joining the Western Athletic Conference and going Division I in 2020. DSU student-athletes posted a 3.28 cumulative GPA for the Fall 2020 semester and a 3.22 in the spring. Additionally, 150 Trailblazer student-athletes were named to the Academic All-WAC list.

Dixie State’s growth has been made possible by the community’s support. Last year, annual giving increased by 56 percent, employee giving increased by 15 percent and corporate partnership revenue increased by 131 percent.

“Dixie State University’s growth in the past year alone is amazing and we have no intentions of slowing down,” Williams said. “Great things are on the horizon for DSU and the Southern Utah community.”

Watch the full State of the University Address at dixie.edu/stateoftheuniversity.