After six years of tireless planning and many presentations, Southern Utah University is thrilled with the state legislature’s decision to approve and support the construction of a new, 21st Century Teacher Education building on the Cedar City campus.
A new Teacher Education building has been SUU’s top Capital Development priority for the last six years. Countless hours of persistent communication by President Bennion; Dorian Page, SUU’s Associate Vice President of Administrative and Financial Services; and the southern Utah delegation, were finally materialized with legislative action to achieve this important need, and dream, of the SUU community.
“Needless to say,” President Bennion exclaims, “We are just thrilled with this outcome! We are also very grateful, and extremely excited about how positively this new building is going to affect our Teacher Education program.”
“It is time for the College to operate out of a facility equal to its superlative program,” Dr. Prent Klag, Associate Professor of Teacher Education and Director of the Office of Graduate Studies and Field Services, states. Technologically, at the very least, the current facilities of the SUU College of Education are archaic. Klag cleverly illustrates the imbalance of the quality academics of the program and the tools with which faculty have to share their contemporary knowledge. "We are ready to go with most all of the parts for a prime, winning race car, but still, we’ve had a 1957 Buick that wants to compete in the Indy 500. Our new building, as we visualize it, will do all that we say we are, and enable us to be truly competitive."
“The new building will serve as a Center for Best Practices in Teacher Education,” Dr. Bruce Barker, Dean of the SUU College of Education, states, “with emphasis on Early Childhood Education as well as mathematics, the sciences, and technology. The new Teacher Education building will allow SUU to continue to build its reputation as one of Utah's premier institutions of higher education to prepare new teachers for Utah's schools."
Flexibility, or moreover, a "sensitivity to the market," Klag emphasizes, is an imperative characteristic for the SUU College of Education’s continued success. A new building is a foremost tool in fulfilling this strategy
President Bennion concurs, “The new Teacher Education Building will give SUU a modern, technologically current facility to match its wonderful students and talented faculty more than a century of commitment to this noble profession.”
The approved funding for a new Teacher Education building includes $10 million from state tax dollars plus a $1.5 million grant from the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation.
It is planned to construct the new edifice adjacent to the 107-year-old Old Main building on upper campus—the site of the origins of the Institution’s Teacher Education legacy. “To build a new Teacher Education building alongside the preservation of, quite literally, the old Teacher Education building,” President Bennion says, “makes a lot of sense and makes a meaningful statement. Re-establishing Teacher Education at the heart of the campus, as it has been at the heart of the Institution since Day One, 1897, will be a monumental reminder that Teacher Education has been and is central to SUU’s mission.”
The next step is the programming phase of the project. This is probably the most detail-laden part of the process, determining the most minute of details about the design, in light of intended purposes of each room. Then, meticulous consultation must begin with architects and contractors to direct the design and manifestation of the new structure.
“The actual manifestation of our new Teacher Education is a major undertaking that will require creativity, finesse, and just plain hard work to get done,” President Bennion professes. “However, with the passion and commitment I’ve already seen from alumni, the community and leaders throughout the state, I’ve no doubt we can create something that is very, very good for this campus, and something that will become as much an emotional, priceless component of SUU as Old Main has been from the beginning.”
President Bennion acknowledges that we would not be at this point in the project if it were not for the incredible support from many, including the key legislators who approved funding for this addition to campus; SUU’s Boards of Trustees and Fellows; the University administration; the very capable Plant Operations staff; the College of Education faculty and staff; the State Building Board; and the Regents.
And now, reflectively, Bennion quotes the words of William Shakespeare—“What’s come to past is prologue. What is to come is in our hands.” (The Tempest, W. Shakespeare)
Klag adds, "For all of those who support and facilitate it as a reality, the proposal
and follow-through for a new facility is a statement of commitment."
Certainly, there are numerous details to pan out that will take time. As they do, SUU will keep students, employees, community members, friends, and leaders throughout the state abreast of developments
Through its more than 100-year history, Southern Utah University has evolved from a teacher training school into its current role as a comprehensive, regional university to 6,000 students from across the globe. It serves the southern region of Utah and contiguous counties in surrounding states with undergraduate and graduate programs in six colleges. People of the region look to the University for outreach services, culture, economic and business development, higher learning, regional history, public affairs, major academic specialties, and significant entertainment and recreation. Accentuated by the notable, economic value of its services, SUU's hallmark is its quality staff, faculty and academics.