Monday, May. 03, 2010
Dignitaries from around the state and community members from Price gathered last weekend to celebrate the unique partnership between Utah State University and College of Eastern Utah, a celebration that included a ceremonial bill signing by Utah’s governor May 1 and events in Blanding April 29 and in Price April 30.
They were celebrating a historic partnership that marks the first higher education merger between two long-standing institutions in the state’s history. CEU’s new name is Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said during Saturday’s ceremonial bill signing that the partnership creates a new higher education model that will pay significant dividends for the community and the state. It takes the heritage and mission of the College of Eastern Utah and melds it with the national recognition of a great research institution like Utah State University.
“Students now will be able to stay home, in a smaller campus environment and get a four-year degree from a great research institution,” Herbert said.
The partnership brings a number of immediate and future dividends, he said. It will expand educational opportunities for the area and allow USU-CEU to attract new money to the region as part of government grants and private partnerships. He also expects it to expand energy research and development opportunities.
“We are a pioneer state and we blaze our own trails,” he said of the unprecedented partnership. “This is a historic day, a great step forward with great opportunities as we take the best of both places and come together today as one.”
USU President Stan L. Albrecht and interim CEU President Mike King each spoke Saturday before the signing and to a crowded hall Friday night at an event called “Celebrating the Future.” Both reflected the governor’s theme of “opportunity.”
Mike King, who served as interim president during the search for a chancellor, received a loud standing ovation Friday as he thanked members of the audience for their work and recounted the chain of events that led to the partnership.
“We have a lot to be proud of as an institution, and being a part of Utah State University is the best thing for us to do at this point,” he said. “We all look forward to the future and to making a difference in the lives of our students and of the communities we serve.”
USU’s president reiterated the crowd’s enthusiasm for King’s countless hours of work and leadership during the transition period. “We knew the transition might be difficult at times, and it was a great privilege to work with President King and his team.”
Albrecht said many people in the crowd deserved thanks for their work on the partnership, including Rep. Patrick L. Painter, the sponsor of the bill in the House, and Sen. David P. Hinkins, the Senate sponsor, both of whom were at the event. Albrecht gave special thanks to former state senator Mike Dmitrich from Price for his great leadership and great friendship throughout the process.
“I’m honored to be a part of this and thrilled to be with new friends tonight,” he said. Albrecht then asked CEU student body President Willy Woodruff to stand. “But my commitment really is to Willy and to all his fellow students. We promise we are going to add value to their degrees.”
Rep. Patrick L. Painter, the sponsor of the bill in the House, and Sen. David P. Hinkins, the Senate sponsor, both said USU-CEU is in a unique position to capitalize by blending the research strengths of USU with the practical strengths of CEU.
“One day we will be able to look back on this and say one plus one really does equal four in this case,” Painter said.
Painter also made special mention of Mike Dmitrich, who took such a critical lead role in getting the discussions for the partnership under way.
“He’s the guy who put the little grain of sand in the oyster that would become this pearl that is USU-CEU, and we have to thank him,” Painter said.
Commissioner of Higher Education William A. Sederburg took time to thank the teams from both schools who came together to work out the details of the arrangement. He made a point to highlight Albrecht and other USU administrators for what he called their enthusiastic understanding of what the historic union could mean for both organizations.
Newly named chancellor Joe Peterson, whose appointment begins July 1, said he and his wife, Becky, came away from events in Blanding and Price with a new appreciation for the history and the opportunities of the region.
“The obvious good will of students, local residents, faculty and staff, and community and educational leaders reconfirmed that Southeastern Utah is on the threshold of something great,” Peterson said. “As we watched students accept their diplomas, we sensed that USU-CEU is laying a foundation for new sorts of synergy and collaboration. We sensed that we’re joining hundreds of friends in a deeply shared enterprise — to provide educational and economic opportunities for the region.”
Writer: Tim Vitale, 435-797-1356, firstname.lastname@example.org