Pending the governor’s signature, the passage of the bill marks the first higher education merger between two long-standing institutions in the state’s history. CEU’s new name will be Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah.
USU President Stan L. Albrecht said the merger increases USU’s reach in southeastern Utah, from Price to Blanding. CEU students will find an easier transition once completing their first two years to continue their studies toward four-year and graduate degrees.
“I am excited by the doors this opens for both USU and CEU,” Albrecht said. “I have always taken great pride in USU’s statewide education role. This move assures more Utah students the chance at a high-quality higher education.”
He said USU’s land-grant role is the reason behind its strong statewide educational presence and the tremendous growth in recent years of its regional campuses in the Uintah Basin, Tooele and Brigham City. He noted that USU already has a strong upper-division, regional campus presence in Price that will now be combined under the new merger.
A search is currently underway for a chancellor at USU-CEU who will report directly to Albrecht. The USU president said his goal is to make the transition of CEU into the USU system as seamless as possible. Key to this, he said, is to respect and recognize the distinctive strengths of both institutions and to maintain a laser-sharp focus on what will benefit students most in every decision made.
The new union is being praised for the way it secures and advances the missions of both institutions. USU is the state’s only land-grant university, with a mandate to provide higher education opportunities statewide.
The College of Eastern Utah is a deeply rooted regional college with a community college mission that is a vital force in eastern Utah.
Commissioner of Higher Education William A. Sederburg praised both USU and CEU for stepping up, under the urging of the Utah State Legislature and the Utah State Board of Regents, to create this new alliance.
He said the result is a new and exciting combination that will strengthen both institutions and greatly benefit the southeastern region of the state.
Between its 12-acre campus in Price and the San Juan Campus, CEU enrolls 2,173 students. Now in its 72nd year, it is a comprehensive community college offering more than 400 courses in 60 areas of study with a faculty and staff of 230. Ninety percent of the courses are taught by full-time professors.
USU, in its 122nd year, evolved from a small, agricultural college to one that is nationally and internationally recognized for its intellectual and technological leadership in land, water, space and life enhancement. As Utah’s sole land-grant institution, it has more than 850 faculty who provide education to more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students, including 10,000 in its Distance Education sites located throughout the state of Utah.
Technical career educational opportunities unique to CEU will remain, such as its widely recognized automotive technology, welding and heavy equipment and trucking programs. The college’s athletics offerings in basketball, volleyball and baseball will also continue, he said.
In addition, USU will remain responsive to the community through local advisory boards and local representation on the university’s Board of Trustees, Albrecht said.
Mike King, CEU interim president said enrollment is up significantly at CEU despite thinly stretched resources.
It promises CEU students access to dozens of new degree offerings and expanded opportunities within USU’s four core strengths in academics and creative arts, research, student engagement and outreach.
USU students will have new opportunities to access CEU’s highly successful nursing program. They will also be able to tap into a deeper and richer research vein afforded by CEU’s strengths in natural resources, archeology and paleontology, including the world-class College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum, a fully certified natural history museum.
He said USU students will have increased access to the geological wonders of southeastern Utah and knowledgeable professors, particularly in relation to the unique geology of the San Rafael Swell. In addition, they will be exposed to greater cultural diversity, including the state’s largest Native American higher education learning environment.
In addition to the Price campus, CEU operates the San Juan Campus in Blanding that enrolls more than 500 students, more than half are Native Americans. This campus provides educational opportunities for students living in the southeastern portion of the state and offers a wide range of educational options, including health related programs and distance education.
The San Juan Campus, along with USU’s Moab Education Center, have enjoyed decades of educational offerings in cooperation with CEU.
Brad King, CEU vice president of Institutional Advancement and Student Services, said combining the two institutions provides a synergy that would not otherwise exist. He said the general feeling around the campus and the community is that of excitement and anticipation.
“It’s a very big positive,” he said. “Really good things can happen as a result of this new affiliation. I can see how this is going to work.”
Albrecht’s commitment to maintaining the identity of CEU’s culture distinctions is also viewed as very positive for the local communities in the region, Peacock said.
He echoed the general sentiment that the students are the winners as a result of this new union. The strengths of both institutions, now combined, offer higher educational opportunities in southeastern Utah at unprecedented levels.
Preparations are underway to celebrate the union of the two schools on April 29 in Blanding and April 30 in Price. More information will be provided in the coming weeks.