History of SUU Course Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Published: January 04, 2022 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 3 minutes

Historical Old MainAs Southern Utah University celebrates its 125th anniversary, students have the opportunity to take a new history course temporarily being offered in celebration. History of SUU (HIST 4700) will highlight SUU’s biggest moments and historical triumphs, from its beginnings as a small teacher training school to a fully-accredited university.

History of SUU is a course that has been in the works for many years. It is the result of a collaborative effort between several professors in the history department including Dr. Laura June Davis and Dr. Earl Mulderink.

“As part of SUU's 125th Birthday celebration, we are offering a course on the History of SUU for the very first time,” said Dr. Davis, assistant professor of history. “This unique opportunity will allow students to study the origins, milestone events, history, and legacy of our great institution as well as to help write the history of SUU by putting together exhibits, displays, and PR material for SUU125. This means that students will get to do the actual work of historians as they help celebrate and commemorate our past, present, and future.”

Like the university, the core of the course is the community. From the heroic group who built the University to the students who saved all they could in the 1948 Old Main fire, it is the people of SUU who have created a legacy worth remembering and sharing. Students in the course will research, explore, and document SUU’s tumultuous history.

“The story of SUU is really important, and now is the time to tell it,” said Professor Ryan Paul. Professor Paul will be teaching the course this upcoming year. He has created a rigorous syllabus that includes traditional classroom lectures in addition to on-site research/work days and guest lectures from a variety of influential SUU professionals, including Mindy Benson, interim university president.

“The power of this university is that we were born from a group of people who literally carved this space out from the desert,” said Professor Paul. “We really are still here for a reason”

Like all of Professor Paul’s courses, History of SUU will be project- and participation-based. The class includes several large research projects including a biography on a portrait from the Great Hall, a micro-exhibit on an SUU-themed topic, an annotated timeline for a period of SUU’s history, and a research project/narrative about the history of a campus building. Approximately one-third of class time will be reserved for time to work and research in the Special Collections at the Gerald R. Sherratt Library with Professor Paula Mitchell.

“I am looking forward to collaborating with Ryan Paul on this exciting class,” said Professor Mitchell. “We have some fun assignments and projects planned for the students through Special Collections. The students will have the opportunity to view one-of-a-kind documents and rarely seen artifacts from the University’s archives as they learn about the history of SUU.”

The variety of class projects will not only celebrate the 125th anniversary of SUU’s founding, but the work the students do will add to the existing narrative around the university. Some research from this class will be published on the SUU website and stored in the SUU archives through Special Collections.

“I hope that the students will gain an appreciation for the place where they chose to live and study,” said Professor Paul. “Additionally, the skills they will develop specifically in this class are valuable to making better students and better human beings.”

Before teaching full-time, Professor Paul was the curator for Frontier Homestead State Park in downtown Cedar City and a part-time lecturer of history at SUU. He has dedicated two decades to researching and investing in the Cedar City community and the University.

“As I look at the history of this university, behind most of the contributions, there is a community of people who are making change happen,” said Professor Paul. “The community-centric mindset is something I want students to appreciate and take away from the class. If our ancestors can create something like SUU, why can’t you?”

Tags: College of Humanities and Social Sciences SUU125 History

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