Last Updated: August 10, 2018, 12:52 pm

Alumni House acts as guardian of Dixie spirit


For the people who work for the Student Alumni Association at the Alumni House, it is a place for building relationships and a better future for graduates. 

For the past 13 years, the Alumni House has operated as the headquarters for the Alumni Association and was originally intended to be a home for the president of Dixie State University.

After the house was built in 1996, Robert C. Huddleston and his family were the first to live in the home. 

Linda Huddleston said her family lived in the house after it was built until 2005. She remembered her children would lay on the landing at the top of the stairs during meetings and dangle toys from there with string.

When the Huddleston’s left, Lee G. Caldwell and his wife moved in. The Caldwell’s only lived in the house briefly because Mrs. Caldwell had difficulty going up and down the stairs and they opted to purchase, a home that was easier for her to get around, Huddleston said.

Margaret Truman Marshall Alumni Association board member said Stephen and Marsha Wade donated funds for the building of the house and Delmont and Dan Truman provided plants for the gardens in the back of the house.

“It’s called the Truman Gardens,” Marshall said. “I don’t think many people know that because they never put up a plaque or anything.”

Director of Alumni Relations John Bowler said the Alumni House receives much of its funding from donation and renting the house for community events such as weddings, receptions and luncheons in addition to hosting DSU events like the recent world record breaking donut eating during this past D-Week.

“Most of the renting of the house goes back into the house,” Bowler said. “We just redid the floors.”

An undisclosed amount of funds for alumni events like tailgates and reunions come from private donations or state funding. Funds for DSU hosted events come from the school, such as the world record donut event this past D-Week, Bowler said. 

“It’s actually a house, but we’re making it into an environment that we can work in as well,” Tristin Stevenson, Student Alumni Association President said.

A main function of the house is to be a gathering place for the Alumni Association to accomplish its mission. That mission is to build relationships with those people who are on the Dixie State University campus and connect with the purposes of the school, so they can feel the “Dixie spirit” again and again.

As the campus grows, and more and more students become alumni, the Alumni Association has the challenge of making sure every alumna or alumnus feels connected in their own method of communication with the association, whether through the internet or hand-written letters.

“The biggest problem we’re going to have is we’ve never had 1,500 graduates before,” Bowler said. “That throws us a whole other challenge of how to connect with a millennial versus a baby boomer.”

The Alumni Association’s goal is to provide alumni, students of DSU and the community a connection to the Dixie spirit through having up to 25 events annually and providing learning opportunities for them, Stevenson said.  

“[The Alumni Association] is your lifeline to the university,” Board member ElnaRae Snow Page said. “They can reach out to that person, or that company and they’ll say, ‘Hey we’ll help here.’ It helps us financially — plus, it helps us build relationships between others.”

The association is like a family because once people graduate and become alumni,they are still a part of Dixie no matter how old they are, Marshall said.

“We’ve been alumni since 1966, but we graduated in 1965 and we still feel a part of this — as old we are — and it’s marvelous,” Marshall said. “You want to give, and you want to be a part of it.”

Being a part of the Student Alumni Association provides students with a resource for networking with the community and alumni before and after they graduate. They are the torch bearers who help students keep their torches lit; connecting fellow Trailblazers who have gone before so the light of their dreams and aspirations may never go out.