University News

Soaring to New Heights in 2018

Published: December 21, 2018 | Author: Cami Mathews | Category: Academics

2018 was another year of expansion and prosperity at Southern Utah University. With continued enrollment growth, building dedications, exciting new partnerships and academic accolades, SUU is building upon its reputation of excellence by soaring to new heights.

With noteworthy stories ranging from university recognition to broken records, here are the top 18 news stories from 2018.

Schvalla Rivera, SUU's Chief Diversity Officer, posing in front of Old Main

1. Increasing Diversity and Inclusion at Southern Utah University
Following months of interviews with qualified candidates from across the country, SUU announced Dr. Schvalla Rivera as the new Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion. Previously, Rivera was the Dean of Students at Western Nebraska Community College, and is equipped with a diverse professional portfolio.

Psychology student working in SUU's live pigeon lab

2. Pigeon Lab Brings Principles of Psychology to Life

SUU is turning textbook theory into experiential learning through one of the nation’s few pigeon labs. The lab is used specifically for teaching undergraduate students principles of behaviorism by providing live pigeons for each student to train as part of the course.

Students listening to professor during table discussion

3. Southern Utah University’s Enrollment Surpasses 10K
At the end of term, for the 2017 year, SUU crossed the 10,000 student enrollment threshold, topping out at 10,245 students. The number marks three years of record enrollment growth for the 121 year old institution.

Rural Health Scholars student teaching man with Parkinson's Disease how to box

Last fall, Jens Howe, a pre-physical therapy student at SUU, helped launch a non-contact boxing clinic for Iron County residents who are struggling with the disease. In the last six months, Howe has seen improvements in participants’ coordination, balance, flexibility and overall well-being. The boxing program isn’t a cure, but it helps slow the disease’s progression.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, while more than 57% of college undergraduates are women, only 18% progress into STEM careers. With a clear gap, Microsoft set out to better understand what causes girls and women to lose interest in STEM subjects and careers, as well as what strategies have the greatest potential to reverse the trend.

Two students and professor looking at laptop in the library

Recognizing that traditional methods and high-priced textbooks pose a significant barrier for student success, SUU is working to make education more affordable and accessible.

Students at SUU's 2018 Commencement Ceremony

SUU celebrated the class of 2018 Thunderbirds - 1,868 graduate - during the 119th University Commencement ceremony. The keynote address was given by Anne Leavitt, co-founder of the Leavitt Foundation.

3 Best of State medals

SUU has added three more titles to its impressive list of accolades earned in the last few years, winning Utah’s Best of State in the educational institution, curriculum development, and volunteer service categories. With 33 possible categories, SUU is the only institution to receive multiple awards.

Cyber security student hacking on a computer

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated SUU as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE). SUU is the only public university in Utah to receive this designation.

Winner of bike race Tour of Utah crossing the finish line

SUU and Cedar City hosted the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Deemed “America’s Toughest State Race,” the Tour of Utah was a weeklong, professional race for some of the best cycling teams in the world. Cedar City has been the overall start headquarters and Stage 1 host of the Tour of Utah four times (2013, 2014, 2016, 2018), and SUU has partnered to provide the “Athlete Village” bringing international cyclists and spectators to campus.

Governor Herbert and students from SUU Aviation and Southwest Tech standing on Cedar City Airport tarmac

Governor Gary Herbert visited partners and participants in the Southwest Aerospace and Manufacturing Strategic Workforce Initiative. The initiative is a collaborative program that helps students develop skills that put them at the forefront of the rapidly growing aerospace industry.

3 students walking on SUU's campus by the Bell Tower

SUU has not only found a way to increase its first-year student retention, but continues to build momentum and excitement across campus. In just two years, from 2015-2017, the University went from a stagnant 64% retention rate to 71%, a record high for the institution.

SUU Business Building

SUU hosted a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new state-of-the-art business building. The building is 42,000 square feet and consists of 15 classrooms, 38 offices, study space, an investment learning lab, an entrepreneurship lab, and an incubator space.

SUU President Scott Wyatt, Bill Heyborne and Johnny Oh crossing the finish line at the Grand to Grand

Runners from around the world experienced a challenge unlike any other. The Grand to Grand Ultra race started at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, included seven days of running and camping, then finished at the summit of the Grand Staircase. The group dedicated this race as a fundraiser for the future Sorenson Legacy Foundation Child and Family Development Center.

SUU's Women Cross Country Team

No. 23 women's cross country team competed at the Big Sky Championship where the women claimed a title for the first time since joining the Big Sky in 2012.

2 Students studying in SUU library

According to the Utah System of Higher Education, SUU leads the system in student enrollment in terms of percentage growth with a 7.69% increase over last year.

Preparing for the Senate Debate between Mitt Romney and Jenny Wilson on SUU's campus

SUU’s Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service and the Utah Debate Commission hosted the Utah Senate Debate. Candidates Mitt Romney and Jenny Wilson clashed live on political topics ranging from immigration to Utah’s water problems.

SUU Football Coach Demario Warren on the field

SUU head football coach Demario Warren was named to the 2019 American Football Coaches Association 35 Under 35 Leadership Institute, following his third season leading the Thunderbirds.


As we look back on these accomplishments, thank you for supporting SUU and being a part of our T-Bird family.


Tags: Rankings College of Humanities and Social Sciences School of Business Graduation Center for Diversity and Inclusion Cyber Security Psychology Leavitt Center Athletics College of Science and Engineering Rural Health Scholars Southwest Technical College STEM President Library

Contact Information:

Nikki Koontz, executive director of marketing communication
435-586-5400
nikkikoontz@suu.edu