Private college comes of age as George Wythe moves from college to university

There’s a big change coming for residents and students of San Juan County.

The George Wythe Foundation Board of Trustees and the state of Utah recently authorized George Wythe College to transition to George Wythe University.  A groundbreaking ( is scheduled for August 29-30 on the 530-acre campus site in Monticello.

Conceived as an idealistic “College in the Woods” years before opening its doors in 1992, this private liberal arts college has slowly grown over the past 16 years from a handful of students in a basement facility in Cedar City, Utah to more than 350 students and three campuses in the making.

For San Juan County it means as many as 200 new jobs over time, and local students now have more higher education opportunities closer to home.  But even better, thousands of students from around the globe will have the relative seclusion of the Blue Mountains region surrounded by the Manti-La Sal National Forest as a backdrop to an incredible four-year liberal arts experience.

For many years, George Wythe College has sustained slow but steady growth that was guided by a long-term plan entitled, “The Proposal for George Wythe University.”  

The proposal outlines a model of multiple colleges of 150 students or less, each with its own president and faculty.  These would all be supported under the administration of a university president, with the unifying leadership of an academic chancellor overseeing the colleges. Graduate programs, already in operation, will round out the university academics.

The shift from college to university poises the institution for tremendous growth in terms of faculty and enrollment. 

Modeled in part after Oxford and Cambridge, the university is the administrative organ that supports the heart of the establishment: the colleges.

Although this is an unfamiliar form for higher education in the United States today, this model has been the norm for more than seven centuries in Great Britain and other parts of Europe and was the primary model adhered to in early America for over 300 years.

Cedar City is the home of the first campus and it will continue to house the university administration until facilities are completed in Monticello, scheduled for fall 2010.  In addition to building a ten-college campus in Monticello, plans have been announced to open a third campus in southern Alberta during the next decade.

Nicole Oliver, a sophomore from Boise, ID, said, “I’m excited about the progress that George Wythe is making because I know that it will lead us into a better generation of leadership education and prepare us for the things that we will shortly face.” 

Brian Middleton, a junior from Shingle Springs, CA, said, “It is a wonderful step for George Wythe.  It shows that we are not only existing, but that we are expanding.  In the future, GWU will influence people from all walks of life from all over the world.”

Whitney Montandon, a sophomore from North Las Vegas, NV, said, “I think it’s super exciting and I can’t wait for the new campus to be finished!  I hope that one day my own children will attend there to get an educational experience like the Founding Fathers had. 

Edward Quist, a senior from Houston, TX, said, “I think it’s a great step forward for George Wythe and the mission.  It goes perfectly along with what we’re trying to do: effect change.  The opening of other campuses is great because that means that there are more people that are getting a leadership education and learning how to think.”

Kimberly Hansen, an incoming freshman from Olathe, KS, “I think it is a good idea.  Changing GWC to a university gives what we do here the significance I think it deserves.  I am excited to know that I will be graduating from George Wythe University.  Becoming a university is one more sign to me that the college leadership is actually fulfilling their dreams of statesmanship worldwide.”

GWU spokesman Gary Arnell added, “This has been in process for about the last 24 months and we are ready to move forward in the development of the Monticello campus. 

“The staff and faculty are pretty excited about the future interchange between the two campuses and about what an international campus could mean to the depth of educational opportunities.”

The new administration and both new college president appointments will be revealed at the Groundbreaking Ceremony on August 30, 2008 in Monticello.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

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