Utah State Legislature funds Dixie State University campus expansion, other priorities

Recognizing Dixie State University’s commitment to student success, the Utah State Legislature allocated $15 million toward a campus expansion project and more than $3.7 million in new university appropriations during the 2021 legislative session.

“We are incredibly fortunate to be located in a state that values higher education,” Dixie State University President Richard B. Williams said. “As I meet with administrators from other institutions across the country, I am more and more convinced that there isn’t a state in the country that treats higher education as well as Utah does.”

The Legislature’s $15 million allocation toward campus expansion will enable Dixie State to purchase roughly 183 acres at Desert Color in St. George. The university is preliminarily planning for the land to be home to Dixie State’s Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Health Sciences programs. Dixie State will conduct a master planning process for the property to determine if this plan is the best use for the space and if it is, academic offerings housed on the extended campus will prepare students to meet Washington County’s healthcare workforce demands, which are expected to continue to grow because the county’s senior population percentage is double the state average.

“I want to thank our state legislators for their forward-thinking approach,” Williams said. “The best time to plan for the future is now, and this additional land will allow DSU to do just that.”

In another display of support, the Legislature allocated more than $2.88 million in ongoing funding to assist with Dixie State’s campus needs. In addition to being awarded to help meet the university’s general needs, this funding will help the university continue to offer engaged learning experiences in a variety of academic fields.

The Legislature also provided Dixie State with $300,000 in ongoing funding for development of the DSU Higher Education for Incarcerated Youth Program, the first effort of its type in Utah. Led by DSU’s Director of Concurrent Enrollment Kevin Simmons, Nathan Caplin, JD, and Rep. Lowry Snow, the program will offer a variety of university courses through live, interactive, virtual media to incarcerated youth to increase participants’ education attainment, reduce rates of recidivism and improve employment opportunities and outcomes. The program is available to high school students as well as those who have completed their high school diploma or GED and leads to a Certificate of General Education Completion and career and technical education certificates.

Additionally, the Legislature appropriated $300,000 in one-time funding to further develop the ParksPass mobile app. As part of this project, Dixie State, Southern Utah University and Dixie Technical College students, faculty and staff are collaborating with Utah Division of Parks and Recreation and industry experts to create an automated system that will allow visitors to purchase day-use passes electronically prior to entering Utah State Parks.

DSU also received $249,600 in ongoing funding to create the BioSTACKS Pathway for student achievement. Dixie State is partnering with Dixie Tech, Washington County School District and industry partners on this strategic workforce investment project. The integrative program will enhance the development of the biotech and biomedical industries in Southern Utah by creating a Biotechnology Certificate program at Dixie Tech and a Biotechnology Associate Degree at Dixie State as well as leveraging existing certificates, degrees and coursework. In addition to creating a pipeline of talented students, BioSTACKS will offer the students themselves several pathways to acquiring job-ready skills.

“Our campus and community are growing exponentially, and the legislature has taken note. I want to thank them for prioritizing the needs of Dixie State University.”