University News

Child and Family Development Center Quickly Becoming a Reality

Published: October 30, 2018 | Author: Kenzie Lundberg | Category: Administration

President Wyatt reading books to childrenA much-anticipated project, the Sorenson Legacy Foundation Child and Family Development Center at Southern Utah University is quickly becoming a reality as both funding and a location have been finalized. After receiving the approval of the Utah Board of Regents on September 21, 2018, the current SUU President’s residence will be repurposed as the Center, offering a quicker and more budget-friendly solution.

As a top capital priority for SUU for the past two years, the project was originally estimated at a cost of $6.5 million with $1.5 to be raised privately and $5 million from state funding. Though SUU requested $5 million of state funds during the 2018 legislative session, it was not appropriated. With no guarantee the project would be funded in the coming 2019 legislative session, and the legislature tasking Utah’s colleges and universities to find internal solutions to building needs, SUU has been working in a new direction.

In July of 2017, with the approval of the SUU Board of Trustees, SUU acquired the Warthen home at the corner of 200 West and University Blvd in Cedar City. Though many uses for the home were considered, ultimately President Wyatt agreed this would be a suitable residence for his family given its convenient location to campus. The idea was especially attractive as it would allow their current 11,000 square foot residence to be transformed into the much-needed Child and Family Development Center, ready to receive students and their children as early as fall of 2019.

“I know of few people who would put their own convenience and comfort aside to meet the greatest need of a student population,” said Donna Law, executive director of development and government relations at SUU. “However, this is the case for the Wyatts who have made a personal gift to the project and have asked our facilities management team to have the Center ready as soon as possible.”

Dedicated to making this project a reality, President Wyatt contributed to the project with his recent Grand to Grand Ultra marathon, running to raise awareness and financial support for the project. Along with SUU professors Bill Heyborne and Johnny Oh, President Wyatt ran the 170-mile race through Arizona and Utah and placed first among the team division.

“I want to let students with children, who need to get an education, find the internal strength (and help from us) to finish school and get good jobs,” said Wyatt. “Running 170 miles, mostly in sand, carrying everything we need to survive on our backs was difficult. But it doesn’t compare with the day-to-day effort it takes for a mother, with small children, to take care of them while pushing forward to complete a degree.”

To date, $1.2 million of private donations have been received toward the $1.5 million goal. These funds will be used to remodel the home to comply with state and federal child care requirements. The Sorenson Legacy Foundation, along with other major donors, have embraced the renovation and have been extremely supportive of this adjustment calling it an “elegant solution.”

Looking to the future, this less expensive solution to the University’s top capital priority allows SUU to move forward on a much-needed academic classroom building. The legislative request for the 2019 session will be $39,972,837 for a 95,000 square foot building to grow STEM programs, prepare students for careers in engineering, computer science, math, and design.

“The timing of this fiscally responsible solution achieves the most important objective for our university and more than 1,000 student-parents each semester who may be supported by these critical services,” said Law. “As a result, they will graduate faster and with less student debt. By next fall, the pre-school labs and child care facility will hopefully open their doors more than a year earlier than anyone thought possible.”

The Sorenson Legacy Foundation Child & Family Development Center will provide a high-quality facility offering on-campus childcare, a preschool lab, and parent and family support. Through the construction of the center, SUU continues its commitment to the well-being of SUU students. With flexible care hours and an on-campus location, the new center will be convenient, affordable and a safe option for SUU students.

Learn more about the Child and Family Development Center or donate to the project.


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