Earlier this month, Utah state legislature appropriated $4.3 million in ongoing funds to Dixie State University, an amount 12.2 percent more than in 2017.
According to DSU’s press release, the legislatures decision to provide the $4.3 million is based on areas where they have seen growth at DSU and where there is an increase in workforce needs in St. George. For DSU, those areas of growth are new degree programs in the technical and medical departments, hiring new faculty and the increase in student enrollment.
Funding is provided by legislature in one of two ways: one-time funding, where funds are good for one year, and ongoing funding, which means the funds are provided continuously based on future or ongoing needs, said Henrie Walton, community, state and government relations and corporate donation officer.
“Ongoing funding means, in theory, the funding continues for the foreseeable future,” Walton said. “The legislature can always pull that funding back and reevaluate, but our ongoing budget — into the future — increased this year by $4.3 million.”
The purpose for the funds is to accommodate the accelerated growth at DSU in having more students than the school has had before — breaking its enrollment record with 9,673 students this fall and its largest ever freshman class— and the schools determination to meet work force demands in southern Utah, Walton said.
“We’re moving in a polytechnic approach,” Walton said. “What that means is we are going to continue to offer courses and programs in all areas, but we’re going to focus more deeply and more in depth in a couple of areas and those are health sciences, and business and technology.”
The benefit for students is the funds allow DSU to remain stable financially and provide quality education for students by giving them the programs they need, which includes the ability to add more master’s degrees as each department grows requiring more funding to meet that growth, said Frank Lojko, vice president of government relations.
“The key part is that it allows the university to maintain the excellent faculty and staff; it allows students to get the programs they need so they can graduate on time; it allows for expansion of new programs, so that gives more opportunity,” Lojko said.
Because students will often begin study in one program — communication for instance — and decide they want to study criminal justice, having those different programs provide the opportunities for students to make those choices, get an education and get employment, Lojko said.
“We’re able to better support our students, so some of this money is used for student services and things like that,” said Bradley Last, vice president of advancement and development.
DSU utilizes the phrase “from status to stature,” meaning when the legislature approved the school for university status, it became a university, and what the school is to trying to accomplish now is reaching the stature of a university by increasing the programs the school provides from just two bachelor degrees to even more bachelor programs and master degree programs, Last said.