Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:54 pm

Town hall meetings help decide Dixie’s direction


With the previous strategic plan of becoming a university complete, it is time that a new plan for Dixie State University is created. 

“As I was applying for this job, university status had just been gained, so I kept thinking, ‘If I get this job then I will get to be a part of the next plan,’” President Biff Williams said.

Williams got the job, and the planning process is now underway.

A planning committee has been created, a consultant has been hired and the first town hall meetings have taken place. The future of DSU is being designed right now. The process is being lead by Williams, John D. Welty, a senior associate of the AASCU–Penson Center consulting firm, and strategic planning committee members. All students, faculty and staff and community members are invited to participate in that design process. 

Planning meetings took place last week on three occasions to allow for the maximum number of people to attend and participate in the discussion. The first and last meetings were scheduled primarily for people directly involved on campus, such as faculty and staff, and students. The strategic planning meeting Thursday night was open to the whole community. 

Welty facilitated the meeting. AASCU – Penson Center is the firm that DSU hired to head the strategic plan. 

Welty presented the eight steps of the planning process that DSU will need to go through.

  1. Prepare
  2. Host Town Hall Meetings
  3. Conduct Research
  4. Develop the Desired Outcomes
  5. Formulate Strategies
  6. Develop the Implementation Plan
  7. Review/Complete the Strategic Plan
  8. Reaffirm/Refine Core Values, Vision, Mission and Formulate Strategic Position, and Goals.

Welty said that the goal of this plan is to “facilitate a process that builds from areas of strength, promise and opportunity to create a strategic plan that will guide the futures of DSU 2015-2022.”

Welty said that one way of reaching success is to engage in blue ocean thinking rather than red thinking.

Blue ocean thinking happens when we think about new possibilities and new creations. Red thinking is the opposite of that, Welty said.



1. Beat the Competition

1. Make the Competition Irrelevant

2. Exploit the Existing Demand

2. Create a New Demand

3. Adapt to Current Trends

3. Create New Trends

“We can think about how we are going to beat Southern Utah University or we can think about how we are going to make Dixie State better,” Welty said. 

His comment toward SUU is when the emergency alarms sounded in the Holland Centennial Commons building. Multiple attendees joked it was SUU getting back at him. The alarms resulted in building evacuation. 

A fire truck came to the scene and attendees of the meeting were asked to stand outdoors and wait while officers, school officials and firemen checked the building and reset the alarm system. About 20 minutes later, the alarm was disarmed and the meeting resumed.

During the second portion of the meeting, community members, students and faculty and staff worked together to answer the questions. The small groups then shared their ideas with the entire group. A portion of their answers are included in this article, but more detailed information can be found online on the strategic planning website at

  • DSU should teach students how to network and create relationships that are long-lasting and meaningful. Doing so will increase their networking skills in the job market. 
  • DSU needs to expand academically in various different areas, including environmental studies, hospitality and applied technology courses. 
  • DSU needs to find an academic niche that will make the school more unique and marketable. 
  • DSU needs to work toward removing the stigma that DSU is an associate school by promoting the Bachelor’s degrees offered at DSU. 
  • Masters degrees must be added to the curriculum.
  • The identity of DSU must be stronger. That transition may require moving away from the Red Storm mascot. 
  • The reputation of DSU should be based off of the success of students. The successes of DSU graduates are worth highlighting.

The strategic plan won’t be able to accomplish everything, Welty said. Four to six goals will be chosen and focused on during the planning and execution process. 

“Give us your ideas and think into the future,” said William Christensen, executive vice president of academic services. “We know we’re in for some big changes, but we feel we can stay ahead of that. Don’t be afraid to think big.” 

DSU has excitement, community support, spirit, and has experienced huge successes in past years, Williams said.

At least 50 people attended the meeting, with nearly 50 percent of attendees being community members. The majority of the attendees were faculty and staff members with the minority being students. This planning process is intended to identify our future so that in five years we will able to look back and think “look at what we accomplished – we are Dixie,” Williams said.