Trustees tackle surging enrollment concerns

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With Dixie State University recently reporting the highest enrollment increase in Utah, curiosity about how growing student numbers will be handled was high at the board of trustees meeting Friday.

Following introductions and greetings, Paul Morris, vice president of administrative affairs, presented the campus master plan to the board of trustees. The plan included objectives and plans for five major precincts within DSU: academic, residential, front door, parking and sports. These precincts cover sections of campus that are designated for specific uses.

“The master plan is a vision for the future of [DSU],” Morris said. “It supports the needs of students, faculty, staff and the community.”

The main objective behind the master plan was being able to accommodate 15,000 students, Morris said.

“We think that will happen in the next eight to ten years,” Morris said. “We have to build up.”

The academic precinct — currently located on the north end of campus — will expand first with the upcoming Human Performance Building. Following its completion, construction will continue by either replacing the Science building or the Performing Arts Building. Morris said a new education building on 300 South is also a possibility, with special attention being paid to the needs of the DSU Preschool Laboratory. These projects are speculated to happen within the next few years, Morris said.

A new engineering and arts building could also be an upcoming project, Morris said.

“Currently in the university world, a building that includes engineering students and artists is a big hit,” Morris said. “[Universities have] found that the engineers and artists work very well to create some new, neat concepts.”

Regardless of which building is decided upon, the next project following the completion of the Human Performance Building will be an academic building, Morris said.

The residential precinct will host three more student housing buildings to be built near the Campus View Suites, and the Housing Office will be converted into a convenient store. Some of the older buildings in the area could also be removed for intramural fields.

“Across the street [from the Housing Office], the architects identified a great location for a mixed use building that would contain retail,” Morris said. “It might contain restaurants, different stores and shops. It would front a parking garage. In total, this [entire] housing precinct would [house] about 1,800 to 2,000 students.”

Morris said one of the significant challenges facing the residential precinct is 100 South. When there are enough students to warrant it, the architects plan to put in an overhead walk bridge so “the students can safely get across,” Morris said.

In the front door precinct, the Kenneth N. Gardner Student Center will also be receiving a makeover that will involve moving the DSU Campus Store to the first floor and expanding the Trailblazer Cafe. This will follow the nationwide trend of bookstore sizes shrinking, Morris said

The parking precinct, which continues to be a hot topic, will be growing with three parking garages. The challenge is “to move interior lots out to the periphery [of campus],” Morris said.

The sports precinct will also undergo major development in the next few years, with plans in place for expanding the grandstand seating at Legend Solar Stadium to 5,000 seats. New restrooms, a larger ticket booth, and a concession stand will be placed beneath the grandstand.

As this precinct and others grow, the streets inside campus — such as 800 East — will be removed, Morris said.

President Biff Williams turned attention at the meeting to the current success DSU is also enjoying, which warrants the future speculated growth for the campus.

DSU recently reported its enrollment numbers, which included a record freshman class. DSU has also received a greater amount of community support that wasn’t there a few years ago, Williams said.

To continue community engagement, DSU is launching the Trailblazer Art in the City Project, which will place bison statues around St. George. DSU also has high priority in the state for the Human Performance Center, Williams said.

The board of trustees also voted on several academic proposals, presented by Michael Lacourse, provost and vice president of academic affairs, and David Wade, the director of academic planning. These included offering a baccalaureate degree in applied sociology, a bachelor of science in bioinformatics, an applied leadership emphasis in communication studies, and an accounting minor. Renaming the Family and Consumer Sciences and Physical Education program as the Family Studies and Human Development program and discontinuing the certificate in Surgical Technology in favor of an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Surgical Technology were also discussed. Each proposal passed unanimously.

The board of trustees seemed to be in high spirits at the conclusion of the meeting in regards to the growth and development that DSU is experiencing along with community support.

“Not only is [DSU] the newest university, it’s the fastest growing university,” said David Clark, the board of trustees chair.