The Best of Southern Utah University from 2017

Published: December 29, 2017 | Author: Nikki Koontz | Read Time: 6 minutes

Year of Expansion

2017 has been a year of expansion for Southern Utah University. The campus has seen record enrollment growth, groundbreaking ceremonies for new buildings, athletic triumphs, and significant academic accolades.

As of now, enrollment stands at just above 10,000. The student population of SUU has grown more than 20% in the last three years. These numbers can be attributed to the university's mission to engage students in experiential education, leading to personal growth, civic responsibility, and professional excellence.

With noteworthy stories ranging from university recognition to broken records, here are the top 17 news stories from 2017.

1. Southern Utah University Earns National Recognition as College of Distinction

Innovative application of high impact educational practices at SUU earned the school recognition among the nation's Colleges of Distinction. The school is the only public university in Utah named with this prestigious designation.

2. Artis Grady and Alisa Petersen, Educators of the Year

Artis Grady was named Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the Utah Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Alisa Petersen, SUU's Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair of Elementary Arts Education, was named the 2016 Higher Education Art Educator of the Year by the Utah Art Education Association.

3. Stacie Webb Scores First 10 in School History

Stacie Webb, a senior on the gymnastics team, recorded the first 10 in the history of the program on beam in a meet against the BYU Cougars.

4. All Gymnasts Recognized by MRGC for Academics

The Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference announced the honorees for Academic All-MRGC. Every member of the SUU gymnastics team received the title for their performance in the classroom.

5. Governor's Leadership in the Arts Award Presented to SUU

Governor Gary Herbert and the Utah Division of Arts and Museums awarded SUU the Governor's Leadership in the Arts Award for organization of the year. The award recognized an organization that made significant contributions to sustain and enhance the arts through education, leadership, creativity, and partnership building.

6. New Leadership for SUMA and USF

Southern Utah Museum of Art announced its new director/curate, Jessica Farling. The Utah Shakespeare Festival announced the hiring of Frank Mack, a veteran of theatre companies across the United States, as its new executive producer.

7. Library Welcomes Arrival of National Archive for Experiential Learning

The archive of the National Society for Experiential education arrived at SUU over the summer for permanent collection in the Gerald R. Sherratt Library. The donation distinguished SUU as a key player in the experience-based education movement and represented the first institutional home for the archive.

8. SUU Trademarks “University of the Parks”

After filing government paperwork and months of waiting, SUU officially trademarked the University of the Parks. By incorporation SUU's academic offerings and its geographic location, the University of the Parks designation sets the university apart and promotes a unique proposition for students interested in the outdoors and experiencing hands-on learning outside of the classroom.

9. SUU Unveils 17 New Aircraft with Community Celebration

SUU celebrated in high-flying fashion with the unveiling of 17 new aircrafts. The fleet of new red aircrafts includes ten Cirrus SR20 airplanes and seven new helicopters purchased for the university's Professional Pilot Aviation Program.

10. SUU and America First Credit Union Announce Agreement to Name Event Center

A new, $1.5 million, 10-year agreement with America First Credit Union included the naming rights to one of the university's most prominent facilities, the Centrum Arena, now known as the America First Events Center.

11. Three Consecutive Years of Growth at SUU

In the fall of 2017, SUU welcomed the largest number of incoming students to campus with 1,948 new first-time undergraduate students. The overall enrollment at SUU increased by 5.73% compared to fall 2016. According to the Utah System of Higher Education annual enrollment report, the university continued to grow at a steady rate.

12. Housing, Daycare, Business, and Athletic Buildings

Groundbreaking for the new business building occurred in April, taking the next step to building a space for students, professors, and professionals to collaborate and experiment with business ideas, assignments, and projects. The Thunderbird Athletic Department also broke ground on the George S. Eccles Sports Performance Center, the future home for SUU Athletics sports performance operations. With the recent growth at SUU, a partnership between the university and the Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation was formed to build Founders Hall, a new housing unit. After receiving a generous donation from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, the university is excited to announce the creation of an on-campus daycare and preschool center.

13. University of the Parks Wins Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge

SUU reclaimed the title of 2017-18 National Outdoor Champions. After four weeks of the Mother Nature meets March Madness-style competition, Outdoor Nation officially announced SUU as The Most Outdoorsy School in the Nation.

14. Cross Country Makes History, Finishes 11th at National Championship

The men's cross country team etched history at the NCAA Cross Country National Championship as the Thunderbirds finished No. 11, best finish in school history.

15. The Alliance for Education is Renewed

The university re-signed its Alliance for Education agreement with Bryce Canyon National Park. Scott L Wyatt, SUU President, and Bryce Canyon Superintendent, Linda Mazzu, met at Sunrise Point to renew the cooperative and mutually-beneficial partnership.

16. Football Big Sky Conference Champions

The Thunderbird football team claimed their second Big Sky Conference title as they knocked off rival Northern Arizona in the Hinton Burdick Grand Canyon Trophy game. The team earned an automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs with the victory.

17. New Leadership for Athletics and School of Business

After serving for five months as the Southern Utah University Interim Athletic Director following the departure of Jason Butikofer, President Scott L Wyatt has named Debbie Corum the Athletic Director. Corum is the first female Division I Athletic Director in the state of Utah. Only 35 of the 351 NCAA Division I schools have a non-interim female athletic director, Corum's elevation bumps that number to 36.

After an extensive search, Mary Pearson was chosen out of a very competitive national field to serve as the Dean of the School of Business at Southern Utah University. Pearson has been serving as the Interim Dean of the School of Business at SUU since July of 2017. Prior to serving as Interim Dean, Pearson was the Interim Associate Dean and has been teaching in the accounting department for 18 years.

National Rankings

The university received a great amount of rankings over the year. The Princeton Review recognized SUU as one of the best regional schools in the country. The school was ranked the #2 public school in Utah by Best Colleges. The Community for Accredited Online Schools found SUU to be one of the best colleges offering online learning in the nation. SUU was featured in the top ten best online colleges in Utah by Value Colleges.

The online Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program specifically received a large amount of rankings as well. Best Choice Schools considered it one of the top programs for an online accounting master's degree. recognized the MAcc as the third best online masters program in the nation. The program was ranked in the nation's top 20 online MAcc programs by Value Colleges. Finally the program was once again ranked top in the nation for online MAcc programs by College Choice.

As we look back on these accomplishments, thank you for supporting SUU and being a part of the year of expansion.

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