Southern Utah University's 125th Year in Review

Published: May 08, 2023 | Author: Kierstin Holloway | Read Time: 6 minutes

For the past year, Southern Utah University has been honoring the University’s 125 year legacy. Amid celebrations that included numerous campus and community events, T-Birds continued to make history. From inaugurating the University’s first female president and receiving national recognition, to creating new degrees and groundbreaking courses, SUU's 125th year is one that will be remembered.

25 Highlights from SUU’s 125th Year

1. SUU Kick’s Off Year Long Celebration

SUU began a year-long celebration of our past, present and future during the 2022 Founders Week. “This will be a commemoration of our past, a celebration of our current success, and an opportunity to focus on our future,” said President Mindy Benson.

2. Cedar City Community Ramps Up For First Ever Arts Festival

For the first time, SUU hosted an Arts Festival with the goal of bringing literary, performing, and visual arts together through multiple activities and performances.

3. Geosciences Start New Degree in Geospatial Sciences

The new Geospatial Sciences degree was introduced to SUU in fall 2022. The degree stands out for its ability to introduce students to the use of all the geospatial technologies and how to build systems to make spatially informed decisions.

4. SUU Among Best in Nation for Preparing Elementary Math Teachers

The National Council on Teacher Quality recognized SUU’s elementary education program as one of the best for ensuring future elementary teachers have the essential content and skills they need to teach mathematics.

5. SUU Named 2022-2023 College of Distinction

SUU again received national recognition as one of the renowned Colleges of Distinction. For the 2022-2023 year, SUU received additional recognition for business, education, engineering, nursing, career development, and military support.

6. SUU Opens Helen Foster Snow Cultural Center

Creating a valuable platform for sharing Chinese language and culture, SUU was proud to establish the Helen Foster Snow Cultural Center. The Center provides a place for teaching Chinese language and culture, China-related research, and Utah-China economic development.

7. SUU Makes History With First Doctorate Students

For the first time in SUU’s 125 years, the University welcomed doctoral students to campus. The students in the Doctorate of Psychology program’s first cohort are primarily from Utah, and eight are graduates of SUU.

8. SUU Honors the Power of Place Through Five Founder’s Stories

The Academic Convocation Power of Place told the story of five of SUU’s founders whose bright vision, dedication, and hard work shaped the University and transformed it into the place it is today.

9. SUU Ranked One of the Best Regional Universities in the West

SUU ranked as one of the best regional universities in the West, according to ratings released by U.S. News & World Report for 2023. The annual rankings evaluate more than 1,450 colleges and universities on up to 17 measures of academic quality.

10. First University to Adopt Defensive Training

SUU began working with the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to offer Smart Defense™ self-defense classes to students enrolled at SUU. Smart Defense™ is a one-credit elective course offered during the fall and spring semesters and is under SUU’s Department of Kinesiology and Outdoor Recreation.

11. "A University Born of Heroes": President Mindy Benson Inauguration Address

Mindy Benson was officially inaugurated as the 17th president of SUU on September 23, 2022. In her inauguration address, she spoke on how the University was made up of heroes past, present and future.

12. SUU Leads Enrollment Growth in State University System

Spurred by an increase in the enrollment of online students, SUU led all other institutions in the Utah System of Higher Education in year-to-year growth. According to third-week enrollment data released by USHE, SUU experienced a 5.28 percent enrollment increase and now has 14,330 students in both on-campus and online programs.

13. SUU Startup Announces First-Ever “Makeathon” Entrepreneurship Event

SUU Startup held the first-ever “Makeathon” event designed for those who enjoy innovating with a team and the challenge of finding solutions to problems.

14. SUU Hosts First Summit on Belonging

SUU’s Office of Equity and Inclusion hosted the first Summit on Belonging on October 25 and 26, 2022. The conference-style gathering provided the campus with spaces for conversations, training, and best practices to advance belonging through diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts.

15. Best Friends and SUU Partner to Offer Scholarships to Paiute Tribe Members

Best Friends Animal Society and SUU continue to evolve the Contemporary Animal Services focused learning opportunities with a ceremonial signing of a scholarship agreement on March 7, 2023.

16. Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program Awarded $1.3 Million

SUU secured a three-year grant totaling $1,343,595 to manage SUU’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Program. The amount awarded is nearly a 200% increase in additional funding secured over the last grant cycle.

17. SUU Expands Outreach to American Samoa

Continuing to strengthen and build the diverse range of cultures on campus, Southern Utah University extended its outreach efforts to American Samoa. In January 2023, representatives from the University visited Pago Pago, American Samoa to build academic relationships with local educational institutions.

18. SUU Hosts First Summit on Virtual Reality in Higher Education

SUU hosted the XR Southern Summit, a conference aimed at exploring the latest advancements and opportunities in the fields of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in relation to education. This conference brought together experts and enthusiasts from various industries and universities to share their knowledge and experiences.

19. SUU Online Master's Business Degree Among Top in the Nation

SUU’s online graduate business programs were ranked among the 50 best programs in the nation and number one in Utah, according to new rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The same rankings place SUU’s fully online MBA program in the top 31% of all other similar programs in the United States.

20. SUU Earns Colleges of Distinction's Inaugural Affordable Institution Recognition

SUU prioritizes the financial well-being of students by providing one of the most affordable tuition prices in the state. The university received special recognition for its affordability by being inducted as a Colleges of Distinction Affordable Institution.

21. Record Breaking Season for Women's Basketball Team

The SUU Women's Basketball team had a historical season and made its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. The team finished the season with a 23-10 record.

22. SUU Opens Student Health Clinic On Campus

SUU opened the doors to its new Student Health Clinic in March 2023. SUU partnered with FourPoints Health to oversee the clinic and medical care.

23. SUU Opens New Academic Classroom Building

SUU opened the newest academic building on campus, Bristlecone Hall, on Thursday, April 27, 2023. The 90,000-square-foot building adds 17 classrooms, seven labs, seven teaching and art studios, and 80 offices and workspaces to the University’s facilities.

24. Utah First Lady Visits With College of Education and Human Development

First Lady Cox, along with SUU President Mindy Benson, met with faculty and staff in the Department of Teacher Education and discussed how they can best support teachers from their training into their careers.

25. SUU Graduates Over 2,400 Students During Commencement Ceremony

SUU honored its graduates with the annual commencement ceremony and a hooding ceremony for master’s degree graduates. Among the 2,408 graduates, 810 received master's degrees, 1,807 received bachelor's degrees, and 266 received associate degrees.


As SUU’ ’s 125th year comes to a close, T-Birds can look forward to building on the rich legacy that was laid before them.

Tags: College of Health Sciences College of Engineering and Computational Sciences College of Humanities and Social Sciences School of Business SUU125 College of Education and Human Development College of Performing and Visual Arts

Contact Information:

Marketing Communication