Year in Review:
Dixie State University Makes Significant Progress on Strategic Plan
by Jyl Hall
As the calendar year winds down, it’s the perfect time to review the exciting growth Dixie State University has recently experienced in student numbers, infrastructure, and offerings — progress that is in line with the University’s five-year strategic plan, Dixie 2020: Status to Stature.
“Three years ago, we created our strategic plan with the help of the community. We had six very distinctive goals and we came together in town hall meetings with the sole purpose to create a University that would go from having the status of a University to having the stature of a University,” DSU President Richard “Biff” Williams said. “We have implemented this plan for two years, and we thought the first year had an incredible amount of progress. We’ve made even more progress in the second year, and that is due to a total commitment from our entire campus.”
As part of the strategic plan’s first goal, which focuses on promoting student success, Dixie State welcomed its largest freshman class in school history this fall for the second year in a row. Additionally, students are coming to DSU better prepared for college, as the number of students who had a high school GPA of 3.75 or higher increased by 32 percent. Looking forward, DSU will continue to emphasize student retention as it restructures the First Year Experience course that acclimates students to college life.
In line with Dixie State’s second strategic goal, which aims to broaden and enhance academic programs, the institution was approved this year to offer bachelor’s degrees in Bioinformatics, Applied Sociology, Studio Art, Information Systems & Analytics, Nursing, Population Health, and Recreation & Sport Management. These additions bring the University’s number of bachelor’s degrees to 52 and academic programs up to 188.
Additionally, DSU is working toward offering its first master’s degrees in Accountancy, Software Development, and Genetic Counseling, as well as bachelor’s programs in Mechanical Engineering, Arts Production, Design, Applied & Computational Mathematics, and Music Performance.
To support DSU’s growing number of programs, the University broke ground on its 155,000 square foot Human Performance Center in October, and plans to open it ahead of the Fall 2019 semester. The facility will house the specialized classrooms and labs needed to offer allied health classes, as well as campus recreation, intramural programs and exercise facilities.
Dixie State is also establishing Innovation Plaza in the former East Elementary building to house the University’s technology and innovation centers. One such center, the Innovation Guidance and Solutions Division, has already helped 119 students and community members develop products and businesses since its inception in October 2016.
Additionally, the University is bolstering Dixie Online by creating four online master’s courses, developing teaching certificate, and micro credentialing programs, and adding or revising 16 courses.
In an effort to invest in faculty and staff and to accomplish the plan’s third goal, Dixie State made equity adjustments to salaries and enhanced employee benefits at a reduced cost to employees and the University.
As part of Goal Four, which aims to enhance inclusion and equity, the University hosted a variety of diversity events and training programs, increased recruiting efforts to minorities, and placed a renewed focus on International Student Services. To continue increasing the campus’s 23 percent minority population, DSU is creating a retention plan for underrepresented students and forming a Diversity and Inclusivity Council.
To engage with the southern Utah region as part of Goal Five, DSU increased engaged learning opportunities and created the Institute of Politics & Public Affairs. Last academic year, the campus community volunteered 204,483 community service hours — over 50,000 hours more than the previous year. This upcoming year, the University is creating the Trailblazer Engagement Center and organizing Dixie Serves as a network center for southern Utah service and volunteerism.
As part of Goal Six, which centers around establishing a strong brand and identity, the Trailblazer Nation app was created to enhance the gameday experience. The University also implemented Trailblazers Art in the City, which places hand-painted bison statues around St. George to beautify the city and instill community wide pride in Trailblazer Nation.
DSU’s growth is in an effort to provide students with a better college experience — and they are taking note.
“We are the fastest growing University in Utah,” Williams said. “We are a University that changes the lives of our students. We’re blazing new trails and would like you to follow that path with us.”
To learn more about Dixie State University, please visit dixie.edu.