|What is Dixie State University?|
|By Dr. Douglas Alder|
When students arrive at Dixie State University campus in St. George, Utah, they can enjoy an inviting landscape with fountains and statues, athletic fields, two gymnasiums, and many well equipped classroom buildings, computer laboratories, two theaters, an art gallery, two concert halls, dormitories and a student center with a food court, a book store and a dance hall. A fine library is at the center of campus, with a park on each side. There are two other parks, the Encampment Mall and the O. C. Tanner Fountain Plaza. It is a walking campus with parking for cars on the perimeter. Above all, there are professors, about 175 of them plus adjunct teachers, and vibrant students—about 10,000. Together they are engaged in the excitement of learning.
This is quite a contrast to the initial condition of the site in 1963 when the enrollment was 385 college students. They had just moved to the new campus from the one downtown built in 1911. When they arrived at the 700 South location for the new college there was no landscaping or parking, no student center or athletic fields. Girls recall that they wore tennis shoes to get through the dust to the buildings—the Gym, the Fine Arts Center, the first phase of the Science Building and Home Economics building—then they changed to regular shoes and carried the rubber ones. The Shilo Dorm, a small cafeteria and a furnace were also in place. It took a decade for the students, townspeople, faculty and staff to plant grass and trees. What a change today—and what changes are coming in the future!
The story of Dixie University on the old campus includes two decades of belonging to the LDS Church system of academies from 1911 to 1933. During that time there were about 25 faculty members who taught high school juniors and seniors as well as college freshmen and sophomores on the four-building campus on the town square.
During those years a tradition was begun to involve the students in college government as well as a vibrant social life--dances, clubs, choirs, band, orchestra, theater, field trips, debate team trips, and painting the “D” on the hill. Athletics were important on both the high school and college levels and the teams were both called “Flyers.” The colors were blue and white and they traveled to meet teams at Snow College, Ricks, Weber, Cedar City and even Eastern Arizona.
In 1926 the LDS Church decided to close most of its academies because public high schools were coming into existence. The church chose to create high school seminaries next to them instead of maintaining their own academies. By 1933 it became Dixie’s turn to be closed. It was a traumatic crisis for the southern Utah community. Delicate negotiations with the state legislature made it possible to transfer the college to the state in 1935 but the local citizens had to pay the costs of keeping the college alive from 1933 to 1935. They did that through donations and labor, continuing the tradition of supporting the college.
In 1935 the State Board of Education took over financing the college and high school. There were about 200 college students and about the same number of high school students. The board wanted the two split, with the high school coming under the direction of Washington County. The community resisted. They felt they needed the two to be together to provide a good-sized student body for the many social and academic programs. Also the county did not have the funds to build a new high school.
There were a couple of close calls between 1935 and 1963 when various state leaders proposed closing the college, but they were outmaneuvered because the local citizens were doggedly loyal to the college and willing to donate to keep it alive. Finally the local citizens, particularly the Dixie Education Association, raised the funds to purchase four blocks of land on 700 East and 100 South for a new campus. They presented that land to the state that in turn agreed to fund a few buildings for a new campus there. In 1957 the gymnasium was finished and by 1963 four other buildings were ready for college students with the high school students remaining on the downtown campus.
What has happened since the college moved to the new campus?
1911-13 - St. George Stake Academy
1913-16 - Dixie Academy
1916-23 - Dixie Normal College
1923-70 - Dixie Junior College
1970-2000 - Dixie College
2000-13 - Dixie State College of Utah
2013-present - Dixie State University
|PRESIDENTS OF THE INSTITUTION:|
1911-18 - Hugh M. Woodward (wife: Emily Timothy)
|DIXIE COLLEGE FOUNDERS:|
|Edward H. Snow, Thomas P. Cottam, George F. Whitehead, James G. Bleak, David H. Cannon, Arthur F. Miles, David H. Morris, John T. Woodbury|
DIXIE COLLEGE PRESIDENTS - 1911-1997
1. 1911-18 - HUGH M. WOODWARD, President
Known as the "Father of Dixie", he was the pioneer President. Under his leadership, the original Administration Building (of pink sandstone) and the Gymnasium were constructed on Main Street in downtown St. George.
Through his efforts, approval was given, in 1916, for the establishment of Dixie Normal College. This guaranteed two years beyond high school courses offered at the St. George Stake Academy.
He believed in the phrase "a soft answer turneth away wrath." He was held in high regard by the community.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 15 to 122 students)
|2. 1918-20 - ERASTUS S. ROMNEY, President|
While he was President, the St. George Stake Academy became known as Dixie Normal College, offering 60 hours of college work. Character building was considered to be the primary duty of the college, as well as maintaining high standards of scholarship and efficiency.
He was President only one year and one semester. His early death during the flu epidemic of 1920 ended his dreams for Dixie.
He was well known for arousing enthusiasm in a group of students like none other, and wisely directed his efforts.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 15 to 20 students)
|3. 1920-23 and 5. 1927-33 - JOSEPH K. NICHOLES, President|
The College won what amounted to accreditation during his presidency, and Dixie Normal College became Dixie Junior College. In January of 1931, he received a letter from the LDS Church Commission of Education stating that all junior colleges were to be terminated. He had a mind for finance, and since the College was destitute, his talents were needed and used. His firm leadership allowed the College to continue under State control.
He had amazing ability to inspire students with self-confidence, and his great desire was to see young people rise above their potential by setting an example for them to emulate.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 21 to 54 students, 1920-23 and 81 to 130 students, 1927-33)
|4. 1923-27 - EDGAR M. JENSON, President|
A methodical, precise and professional leader, he initiated a program for teacher training. He organized and supervised the program, training teachers who served Washington County and the surrounding area for many years (some serving a lifetime.) A skilled artist, many of his paintings are in homes of longtime residents of St. George. He created the Art Circle and Art Gallery at Dixie College.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 50 to 94 students)
|6. 1933-38 - B. GLEN SMITH, President|
While he was President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relinquished control of Dixie Junior College, turning it over to the State of Utah. No financial support was offered, and the faculty took salaries in hay, wood, nuts, fruit, and anything parents and students could contribute for tuition.
He offered leadership and operated in a smooth and efficient manner under stress and unfavorable circumstances, proving himself indispensable to Dixie College in its fight for continuance.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 142 to 180 students)
|7. 1938-50 - GLENN E. SNOW, President|
He was known for his close-knit faculty and his and their dedication. Dixie College had just come through a period of starvation, and he was instrumental in "putting the College on its feet."
He began the move to get Dixiana constructed, determined to have a women's dormitory, especially after learning an LDS Stake President in Nevada has asked bishops not to send girls to Dixie College as there were no suitable living accommodations.
He was the first man west of the Mississippi to be added to the Board of Directors of the National Education Association, based in Washington, D. C., and became President of NEA in 1947-48.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 67 (WW II) to 304 students)
|8. 1950-51 - MATHEW M. BENTLEY, President|
Mathew Bentley was known for holding Dixie College together while faced once more with its doors being closed. He was keenly knowledgeable and diligent, and a financial wizard as well, handling every facet of administrative responsibility.
Those who worked with Mathew say the one year he was President was the most pleasant of the years at Dixie to that date.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 240 students)
|9. 1951-54 - ELLVERT H. HIMES, President|
He was the President who brought the concept of a community college to Dixie, and his great contribution was the vision of a new campus and finding the area for Dixie College to expand.
He organized a campaign not only to solicit donations to finish Dixiana dormitory, but for the new campus, which he determined would be a campus of beauty.
The first block on the new campus was purchased in December 1951, while Dr. Himes was President.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 167 to 193 students)
|10. 1954-64 - ARTHUR F. BRUHN, President|
Perhaps a more devoted president was not known at Dixie. Under his direction, Dixiana was finished and ready for inspection by Governor Bracken Lee, who had come to St. George to inform President Bruhn that Dixie College doors would have to be closed. After the inspection, and learning that Dixiana had been constructed entirely from community funding, with no dollars from the State, the Governor said "if this community wants Dixie College that badly, they should have it."
President Bruhn fought to retain Dixie College as a State institution of higher learning and presented deeds to the new campus to Governor Lee.
While he was President, the move was made from the downtown campus to the present campus at 225 South 700 East.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 214 to 355 students)
|11. 1964-76 - FERRON C. LOSEE, President|
President Losee was known as "the Builder of the Dixie College Campus." He opened doors in Salt Lake City that previous presidents were not able to do and established a working relationship with Governor Calvin Rampton, convincing state officials he could give Dixie the new direction it needed. He changed the image of Dixie from a small campus with an enrollment of 383 students (Spring 1964) to a campus covering 89 acres with an enrollment of over 1200 students.
The name of the College was officially changed from Dixie Junior College to Dixie College while he was President, this change taking place in 1970.
Dr. Losee was President at the time of the completion of the beautiful outside water fountain in the center of the campus (dedicated November 8, 1975) and the building of the Obert C. Tanner Amphitheater (in Springdale, Utah) at the mouth of Zion National Park, which acquisition increased the campus acreage to 201 acres.
The generosity of Dr. O. C. and Grace A. Tanner made possible both the fountain and the amphitheater. (The first performance in the Tanner Amphitheater took place on June 11, 1976, in a combined concert of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony Orchestra.)
Dedication of the Dixie College Outdoor Mosaic Mural (Fine Arts Center) on November 20, 1975, took place under President Losee's administration. (Harrison T. Groutage, Artist; Hanns Joachim Scharff, Mosaicist). A generous contribution from Mr. and Mrs. William H. Child, Mrs. Helen W. Barber, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D. C., made this possible.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 524 to 1204 students.)
|12. 1976-80 - WM. ROLFE KERR, President|
Dynamic, enthusiastic administrator. His unique strength spearheaded the Cooperative Education work program with local businesses, brought about salary increases for the faculty, and promoted closer ties between college and community.
He had a keen understanding of human nature, and his distinct leadership changed the word "competition" to "cooperation" between Dixie College, Dixie High School, the Washington County School District, and in areas of his service, ie. as Chairman of the Board of the Dixie Medical Center Trustees, as well as a high councilor in an LDS Stake, which made him a leader who was followed by students, faculty and residents of all southern Utah. He later served as Commissioner, Utah System of Higher Education.
Dr. Kerr dreamed the dream imitating the concept of an educational, cultural, recreational facility to be built through the joint efforts of Dixie College, Washington County and the State of Utah. (The dream which began in 1977, became a reality in 1987, and is known as the Dixie Center.)
A new Trades & Industries building was built and dedicated (January 11, 1980) during his tenure.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 1343 to 1589 students)
|13. 1980-86 - ALTON L. WADE, President|
The magic of Alton Wade was that he could and did communicate with everyone, and will forever be remembered for his magnetic personality, positive attitude and administrative expertise. With clear vision and a keen sense of humor, he became the essence of the "Dixie Spirit".
A man who 'caught the vision' of the Dixie Center, and, as chairman and executive director of the Dixie Center Administrative Control Board, skillfully moved the concept into reality with a ground-breaking on April 2, 1985. The Center has been called a prototype of similar ventures soon to become nationwide.
He became the first President to see a Dixie College athletic team win a national championship when the Rebels, on March 23, 1985, defeated Kankakee College (Illinois) 57-55, at the NJCAA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, to become the National Basketball Champions.
A beautiful Sculpture Garden (east of the Fine Arts Center) was dedicated on May 10, 1985, during his tenure. Dennis Smith was the sculptor.
Under Dr. Wade's administration, computerization was introduced across campus. The Hansen Football Stadium & Track and the Dixie Bell Tennis Courts were built while he was President.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 1790 to 2191 students)
|14. 1986-93 - DOUGLAS D. ALDER, President|
Dixie College "An Academic Climate" was the slogan for the campus during Douglas Alder's tenure. He emphasized the importance of academic rigor.
During his administration, the Val A. Browning Learning Resources Center was built to house developmental education as well as music and computer laboratories. An addition to the Science building was completed. The College expanded continued education offerings, particularly the Elderhostel program for senior citizens. Funding was secured for library additions. One of the larger contributions was a $1.5 million endowment for library collections from the federal government and Val A. Browning.
Dr. Alder received the 1991 Governor's Award in the Humanities for his work in organizing conferences, lectures and book groups dealing with history, literature and public issues throughout the State.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 2201 to 2963 students)
|15. 1993 - ROBERT C. HUDDLESTON, (Current President - 2001)|
Tremendous growth occurred under the administration of Bob Huddleston. Student enrollment headcount soared from 3000 (1993) to 7000 (2000). Full-time equivalent enrollment also increased from 2300 to 4000.
An average of $3 million annually was raised from private donations plus millions more in deferred gifts.
Perennial nationally ranked teams or team members in Football, Basketball (Men and Women), Soccer (Women), Baseball, Volleyball and College Newspaper.
Among his many accomplishments, he:
- was the positive force to oversee Dixie College become Dixie State College, offering Baccalaureate programs.
(Enrollment during his tenure: 3014 (1993) to 6945 (2000)) *