Business & Society

USU Blanding Hogan Earns Worship Project of the Year

By Marcus Jensen |

USU Blanding students Hunter Warren and Rianna James stand with Student Involvement Coordinator Shilo Martinez and Kristian Olsen with the Worship Project of the Year award.

BLANDING, Utah — Utah State University Blanding’s Navajo Hogan, completed and blessed in November 2021, has now earned an award from the Associated General Contractors of Utah.

In an award ceremony on Jan. 19, 2023, the AGCU awarded USU Blanding the 2022 Award of Excellence for Worship Project of the Year. USU Blanding Associate Vice President Kristian Olsen was on hand to accept the award. He was joined by USU Blanding students Hunter Warren and Rianna James, as well as Student Involvement Coordinator Shilo Martinez.

“This is a wonderful award and we are grateful to have our Hogan nominated and selected as the Worship Project of the Year in the state,” Olsen said. “This would have not happened without a wonderful team of people, especially the builders Benedict and Rena Daniels. They are truly artists. The Hogan is an important addition to our campus. It gives our students a place to meditate, reflect, worship and gather. It is a place of meaning and belonging. We hope that it inspires students and community members for many decades to come.”

The project was overseen by Tri-Hurst, under the direction of lead builders Benedict and Rena Daniels, both of whom had experience building many Hogans across the Navajo Nation.

A Hogan is a holy sanctuary and a place to perform ceremonies and keep life in balance. It is also a place of respect and learning. The Hogan is considered a holy place, which brings harmony, happiness and material goods. It is considered to be a living being (iina’), which, when treated with respect, will protect its inhabitants.

Sixty-eight percent of students on the USU Blanding campus are Native American, with more than 90% of those students identifying as Navajo. The Hogan was built as a way to honor USU Blanding students’ Native American culture and to be a welcoming resource to them. In congruence with USU’s mission statement, it also is a place for “cultivating diversity of thought and culture.”

Offering residential campus housing and dining, Utah State University Blanding gives students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university, all while providing award-winning education. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees, plus technical education offerings in Business, Technical Trades and Health Professions, USU Blanding offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at

Land acknowledgement: We recognize Utah State University Blanding resides on the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe and the White Mesa Ute peoples. USU commits to creating and instilling a continuous relationship with tribal nations and fostering a partnership through community, family (clan/bands), research, education and programming. In offering this land acknowledgment, we affirm Tribal Sovereignty, history and experiences.


Marcus Jensen
News Coordinator
University Marketing and Communications


Kristian Olsen
Senior Associate Vice President
Utah State University Blanding & Moab


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