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A Presentation to the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee

By President Scott L Wyatt on February 01, 2018 in

President's Corner

This presentation was given by President Scott L Wyatt to the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee during the 2018 Utah State Legislative Session. He later presented these slides to the faculty and staff at Southern Utah University in a campus forum held January 31, 2018.

Listen to President Wyatt's presentation here.

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Southern Utah University and Southwest Tech are developing a stronger partnership to enrich the lives of students. There is currently talk of implementing a dual enrollment program, which is like a merger without being a merger. Every student who applies to SUU would be automatically admitted to Southwest Tech and vice versa. This partnership might evolve into more programs or remain as elective course opportunities. The SUU Hotel, Resort & Hospitality Management program has already established a partnership with the Southwest Tech Culinary Arts program, and other SUU entities are looking to do the same. 
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SUU is looking into implementing a three-year bachelor's degree program. This structure wouldn't eliminate a fourth year of work but would have students take a full courseload the summers between their freshman/sophomore and sophomore/junior years of school. If SUU is able to do this, students would be able to graduate early and get higher-paying jobs sooner in life. Faculty who volunteer to teach a full summer load would receive a significant salary increase. This entire idea begins with a huge investment of outlining a three-year curriculum for programs. Instead of having a 4-year scholarship for students, it would be relabeled as an 8-semester scholarship with the flexibility to apply to summer courses.  
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If you go back ten years, SUU in headcount has grown 32%. A lot of that growth has been in the last 2-3 years. Degrees awarded have increased by 61%, a very substantial number.

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Cost per degree is growing slower than inflation. Universities make up the loss of state revenue through tuition increases. President Wyatt's hope is that as SUU programs and students continue to excel, the legislature will understand the burden placed on higher ed and accommodate that.

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"Economies of scale holds that as an organization increases its production of output, total costs rise at a decreasing rate. [This happens for two reasons. First] fixed costs are distributed over more output which in turn leads to lower average costs. [Second,] the organization can take advantage of the specialization of resources to produce more efficiently." -Robert K. Toutkoushain 2016 

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There are some expenses in higher education that can't be avoided.  

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A question asked prior to this presentation was "Why don't you cancel programs that don't lead anyone to a job and put money in programs that lead to a job?"

"We have a philosophy bachelor's degree at SUU," said Wyatt. "Philosophy is the poster child of a degree that doesn't lead you anywhere. And I can say that because my undergrad is in philosophy, although I think it led me okay." 

Each year, SUU graduates 5-7 philosophy majors. With two full-time and one adjunct faculty members, the philosophy curriculum is 71% general education courses. If SUU eliminated the degree, it would only save $40,082 because the general education courses would still be necessary for other majors. The university could lose $130,756 in tuition revenue collected from philosophy majors. SUU could possible lose money by eliminating lower enrollment programs like philosophy. 

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A third of SUU students are studying STEM and health. Add education and business and that captures three-quarters of the SUU student population. In reality, the vast majority of students in the humanities and arts have a career path, but it's not as clearly laid out as other majors, such as STEM degrees. SUU's Theatre Technology degree has placed every single graduate in a job for the last 5 years in that field.

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