Although freeing up campus parking lots and bringing in more students sound like contradicting ideas, those are exactly the things Dixie State University administrators are pushing for.
DSU faculty members, officials and board members presented at the board of trustees meeting Friday morning. Along with routine business like awarding tenure to faculty members, listening to the status of various building projects, and going over the university’s budget, Friday’s meeting revealed detailed information on a deal between DSU and SunTran, St. George’s most popular public transportation vehicle.
Paul Morris, vice president of administrative services, said all faculty, staff and students, both full and part time, are now able to ride the SunTran at no cost to them.
“We think this is a great initiative to get cars off the road and help free up cars from the parking lots,” Morris said.
Although it’s free for anyone with a student ID, the university is paying $3 for full-time and $1.50 for part-time faculty, students and staff. The university paid about $20,000 in total to SunTran.
“[This deal] is a great value, I think, for the campus,” Morris said.
St. George Mayor Jon Pike said the deal will help the city overall, and SunTran is working on adding larger bike racks to the buses.
In addition to the SunTran deal, Morris said a rental car service will be offered to complement the new student housing project. He said hopefully three to five rental cars will be available for student, faculty and staff use.
Brett Schwartz, director of new student programs, kicked off the first board of trustees meeting of the semester with a recruitment update. His department’s goal for fall 2016 is to raise total enrollment to 10,000. Schwartz said it’s a lofty goal, but it’s one the university is on track to meet.
One concern brought up by members of the faculty senate was that an increase of students would need to be supported by an appropriate amount of faculty as well.
“We want to make sure everyone is prepared in advance so people aren’t caught off guard and surprised,” said Erin O’Brien, faculty senate president and chair of the biology department. “The growth is exciting; we just want to make sure the capacity is there and everybody is ready.”
Schwartz said new strategies have been implemented in order to reach these goals.
“We couldn’t just do what we’ve done in the past and expect major results,” Schwartz said.
The new plan involves increasing what Schwartz referred to as the “enrollment funnel,” which describes the process of turning prospective students to registered students. Increasing campus tours, waiving application fees, awarding scholarships early on, hiring new recruiting officers, and sending SWAG boxes to students who have been admitted are the ways he hopes to increase enrollment.
“The earlier you can offer a scholarship, the more likely you can get that student to come,” Schwartz said.
In addition to a projected increase in enrollment numbers, Student Body President Matt Devore, a junior integrated studies major from Mesquite, Nevada, said DSU’s Student Association is seeing and expecting an increase in student involvement.
Devore said DSU’s clubs have doubled their service hours, and DSUSA’s service branch logged 2,347 hours last semester. Student life also saw an increase in attendees last semester, Devore said.
“This is where students get that full college experience,” Devore said.
Luke Kerouac, a DSU alumnus and previous coordinator of student life, has been chosen as DSUSA’s new director of student involvement and leadership.
Mental health awareness is an initiative that student body presidents across the state have been working on together, Devore said. The campaign’s slogan is “Stand up to stigma,” and a video featuring representatives from every university in Utah is in the works.
“It’s become apparent that this is an issue,” he said.
Devore said he’s going to work on pushing for more counseling centers.
“We want to be able to hire more people, so students don’t have to wait so long to see someone,” Devore said.
However, Dean of Students Del Beatty said three days is the longest any student has had to wait to be seen at the Health and Wellness Center. Pike said whether it’s a pressing issue at DSU or not, he applauds the effort.
“It’s something we can all do together to make sure we’re not just blind to it,” Pike said.