ST. GEORGE – Enrollment at state colleges and universities is up across Utah, with Dixie State University leading those numbers, according to a report from the Utah System of Higher Education released last week.
Dixie State also recently reported having its highest enrollment of freshman in its history, as did Southern Utah University.
Dixie State University
Some of Dixie State’s new freshmen are staying at the new Campus View Suites dorm facility that held a celebratory ribbon-cutting Wednesday.
“This project was instrumental in our growth,” Dixie State President Richard “Biff” Williams said following the ceremony. “We’ve had the largest freshman class that we’ve welcomed and (higher) percentage of growth than any other state schools in the state of Utah. This is timely for us to accommodate growth.”
According to the USHE report released Oct. 12, student enrollment for the fall 2016 semester increased by 4,739 statewide. This is a 2.78 percent increase over fall 2015 which saw 3,453 student enrollments.
Dixie State had the largest percentage increase of both full-time-equivalent students and total headcount from 2015 to 2016, according to the numbers.
The university’s number of full-time-equivalent students has grown by 7.38 percent since last fall with Utah Valley University and Southern Utah University as the next closest institutions, which report an increase just under 5 percent.
Dixie State leads in percentage increase in total headcount for the state as well, reporting a 5.76 percent increase over last year with 8,993 students – right above UVU’s 5.32 percent increase.
University officials also report a 22.91 percent increase in new DSU students at 2,688, including a 27.41 percent increase in freshman at 2,166 – Dixie State’s largest-ever freshman class.
Additionally, Dixie State increased the number of enrolled minority students to 1,855, which is an increase of just over 16 percent from last year, and also reports a 14.12 percent increase in nonresident students.
Williams commented on why he believes so many students are coming to Dixie State University.
“Our team has done a great job of recruiting students and marketing what DSU offers,” he said. “Branding had a lot to do with it also,” he said.
People from across the region are also discovering the quality and value of education they get at Dixie State, the university president said.
“I think that’s why they’re coming,” Williams said.
Dixie State University offers over 150 academic programs, among the newest of which is the school’s digital film program.
In order to accommodate continuing student body growth in the near future, university officials plan to build three new on-campus dormitories similar to the Campus View Suites. This will involve tearing down the Nisson Towers and Shiloh Hall and building on top of them. A third housing complex is also projected to be built next to the other two new complexes.
The university hopes to house between 1,500 and 2,000 students on campus, Williams said.
The Campus View Suites is 90,000 square-feet of on-campus housing that offers 352 beds and opened to incoming students in late August. The cost of the new housing facility was $22 million.
Report continues below video
The following video was first published in a St. George News Aug. 22, 2016, report covering move-in day for Dixie State students residing at the Campus view Suites.
“It eases the transition from the known to the unknown,” Campus View Suites resident Gabby Benson said of being able to live on-campus.
Student housing facilities aren’t the only projects on the horizon for Dixie State. The university is currently moving toward building a new complex where the tennis courts on University Avenue/700 East currently sit.
Called the Human Performance/Student Wellness Center, it will be a mix of both academic and recreational space for Dixie State students.
“If you look at our applications last year, we almost doubled our applications from just over 8,000 to over 15,000,” Williams said. “One of the reasons they don’t come to campus is they don’t have that recreational experience.”
Construction of the Human Performance/Student Wellness Center will run $50 million, half of which the University has already acquired. The complex is also ranked as the Board of Regents’ No. 2 building project priority.
“That building is very important to us,” Williams said.
“With this continuing growth, our colleges and universities are working hard to ensure courses are available and services are maintained for all students,” said Dave Buhler, Utah commissioner of higher education. “As we serve a growing number of students — we anticipate adding 52,000 students in the next decade — it will be crucial to receive legislative funding to keep higher education accessible and affordable for all Utahns.”
Southern Utah University
Like Dixie State, Southern Utah University also had its largest first-time freshman class this year with a total of 1,586 students. The surge of new students has increased the overall enrollment at SUU by 4.71 percent, according to the Utah System of Higher Education annual enrollment report.
“We are honored to welcome the largest freshman class in our history,” said SUU President Scott L Wyatt. “We do not admit every student that applies, so it’s exciting to see continual growth with high quality students. Our growth will continue to be steady and sustainable, preparing students for lives of meaning and productivity. It is an exceptional time to be a T-bird.”
Differences in enrollment growth between USHE institutions reflect the distinct mission of each institution and how external factors, such as changes in the economy and changes in individual academic programs, impact each institution.
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