As students wander the USU Eastern Price campus with schedules in hand, Chancellor Joe Peterson sat down to discuss many positive happenings at the college.
Last week, Peterson spoke at a welcome back luncheon for faculty and staff and was able to outline nine things he is excited about for the coming year and beyond. The first was the hiring of many new faculty and administrators. One of the new faces is Vice Chancellor Dr. Peter Iyere. He holds several PhD’s and has been a dean at a number of colleges before coming to USU Eastern.
Peterson is also very excited that the fundraising for the Geary Theater and Arts Building project continues to grow. Last spring two donors stepped up to match the half million in funding legislators ear-marked for the architectural phase of this project. Since that time, there has been an additional $300,000 in donations that have come in.
The architectural firm Methods Standards has been working diligently with faculty, staff and administration as it develops the shovel-ready blueprints. These will be part of a request to the 2014 Utah State Legislature for full funding of the new structure.
The Blanding campus is also reaping benefits of an expanding enrollment. One of the limiting factors has been the lack of student housing in the area. USU Logan loaned the Blanding campus $400,000 to build new housing for up to 75 students. The loan will be paid back via rent on those apartments.
In about a month, the Center for Workforce Development will be ready. The remodeling of the old Arts building on 300 East is nearly complete. This will be a place for vocational students to use as an “on ramp” for advising and services. There will also be office space available for Workforce Services and Vocational Rehabilitation to have a representative on campus. “It is also a place for employers to express their needs for skilled workers,” added Peterson. “For example, if an employer is looking for employees with CAD skill, we can match them up.”
The center will help assure that all vocational programs offered by USU Eastern fit three criteria. First, a large and positive economic opportunity will be available. Second, the graduate will be able to find employment making a family sustaining wage. The final piece of the program will produce a clear pathway to employment.
The Carbon Energy Innovation Center (formerly WETC) is producing coking coal. Peterson stated that the technology that has emerged will revolutionize the industry.
USU Eastern plans on giving the community a present to celebrate their 75th anniversary. Spanning from Oct. 21 through 26, the celebration will cumulate with a free concert by an Eagles cover band. Tickets will be available through the college for this free event.
In an area that has been a big stress point for both the college and community, Peterson was pleased to announce that enrollment is up this year. He credits a new team who focuses on getting students to see the value for their money in the education at USU Eastern. This is especially great news since it was expected that once the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the age change for missionaries, many colleges would experience a drop in students.
With this in mind, USU continues to expand the number and quality of programs it offers. Psychology has grown and a new staff member will arrive in January. Also, the elementary ed bachelors program, biology and medical assistant degrees will be expanding in the next six months.
Peterson is very upbeat about the direction the college is heading and welcomes the community to become involved in the success.