Southern Utah University is a dynamic teaching and learning community where students and staff immerse themselves in—and are inspired by—the diverse and stunning natural landscape that surrounds the campus. Opportunity to harness and integrate its unique geographic location into the SUU educational experience is around every bend, and to highlight its unique location, SUU has filed to trademark the title of “University of the Parks.”
When new students join the SUU community, they inherit the greatest backyard in the country. With nearly 20 National Parks, Monuments, and Recreation Areas within a five-hour drive of SUU, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Students may go horseback riding among the red rock hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park, hike to the top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, explore the cool caves at Great Basin National Park, or go boating at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
President Scott L Wyatt endorses the new designation as a perfect fit for the adventurous spirit of the University. “With so many young people suffering from nature deficit disorder, our stunning location, our partnerships with the national parks, our academic focus which includes the outdoors, and our designation as the ‘most outdoorsy’ school in the nation, it made sense to trademark the name,” said Wyatt.
SUU uses the unique location to create a strong academic atmosphere where students do not simply read names of plants and rock structures out of a book, but are given the chance to see these wonders up close. SUU’s professionally trained faculty offer students the ability to learn first-hand how water carves deep cuts in the land as they stand atop the Grand Canyon and see the marvel the Colorado River has left in its wake. They study sandstone arches while standing under the Delicate Arch of Arches National Park in order to fully understand the power of wind.
At SUU, Thunderbirds can study geology, biology, archeology, environmental psychology, and outdoor recreation. Everything students learn is augmented with hands-on experiential learning opportunities.
Resources are in reach for students to learn about the wonders surrounding them. Students who wish to immerse themselves even further into the world of the Parks may apply for a job or paid internship with the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC.) Through this partnership, the surrounding National Parks and Monuments work with SUU to provide students a chance to work outdoors in fulfilling and contributory jobs. Ranging from week-long projects to full-time summer internships, students in the IIC program work in customer service, interpretation, trail maintenance, fighting wildland fire, and many other jobs that complement major areas of study.
For those T-Birds who are looking for a purely recreational experience, SUU Outdoors Adventures and Rental Shop offers rental gear for any type of adventure (all priced for a college budget) and more than 50 free trips every semester. Students are discovering appreciation and passion for the outdoors.
SUU is also offering Semester in the Parks, a new type of study abroad that is coinciding with the centennial of the National Park Service. Semester in the Parks creates a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students that they will not find anywhere else. Starting fall 2016, students will take 16 credits from experienced faculty on-site in Bryce Canyon with classes that include outdoor recreation, geology, communication, biology and library science. The Semester in the Parks program falls in line with SUU’s Mission Statement. Southern Utah University is inspired by its unique natural surroundings and has opportunities to harness and integrate its geographic location in the educational experience.
Celebrating the National Park Centennial on August 25, 2016, all students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in SUU Day in the Parks, an institutional-wide effort in support of this important milestone for the Parks. All on-campus classes, in all disciplines, are suspended on that day, to encourage visits in the Parks for alternative and enriching educational experiences. Service and “giving back” to our public lands will be encouraged. The intent is to recognize the outdoors as part of the enriching and experiential classroom experience SUU so proudly offers.
With these endless opportunities and the passion for the outdoors that the University has, it is no wonder that SUU students, community members, and alumni claimed the official title of 2015-2016 National Outdoor Champions. The Outdoor Nation On Campus Challenge declared SUU as this year’s winner, awarding SUU with the coveted title of The Most Outdoorsy School in the nation. Winning the competition, which was sponsored by Outdoor Nation, REI and The North Face, further validates and solidifies Southern Utah University as the University of the Parks.
With this new designation, SUU is committed to giving students every opportunity to explore their natural surroundings and to excel outside of the classroom. Whether students get involved academically, recreationally or through volunteer efforts, their opportunities are boundless at the University of the Parks.