Utah History Encyclopedia


By Wayne K. Hinton
Southern Utah University, located in Iron County in the southwestern portion of the state at Cedar City, Utah, is a fully accredited, state supported, comprehensive, four-year university. Established in 1897 as a branch normal school by the state legislature, SUU has a history unique in the annals of American higher education. The entire population of Cedar City engaged in building Old Main, the first building on campus. The project was begun in mid-winter as men began hauling logs from Cedar Mountain to the campus. Men and women donated materials, money, and labor toward the completion of the building in order that the fledgling institution could meet the construction deadline imposed by the state.

In 1913 the school was changed to a branch of Utah State Agricultural College at Logan, Utah, and became known as Branch Agricultural College (BAC). In 1953 the name was changed to College of Southern Utah (CSU), and in 1971 it was changed again to Southern Utah State College (SUSC). In 1965 the state legislature approved a measure to transform the institution from a junior college to a four-year college consisting of four schools: Arts and Letters; Business, Technology and Communication; Education; and Science. The four schools of the college are divided into thirteen departments plus a Division of Continuing Education. It was granted university status in 1992, becoming Southern Utah University.

SUU grants Associate of Applied Science degrees in vocational-technical and agricultural fields, including cooperative nursing education in conjunction with Weber State College. The institution also offers limited graduate degrees, including a Master of Professional Accountancy as well as a cooperative Master of Education program in conjunction with Utah State University. The student body, numbering more than 3,500, comes from all corners of the nation and more than a dozen foreign countries. More than 400 faculty and staff serve the undergraduate and graduate students.

The campus is located on 112 acres in the center of Cedar City. Its twenty-five buildings range from ivy-covered Old Main (1898) and the Braithwaite Liberal Arts Center (1899) to the Centrum, a special events center and classroom building, completed in 1987. The men's and women's basketball teams compete as NCAA Division I independents. The college football team plays in the Western Football Conference at NCAA Division II level. The school also has women's softball, a gymnastics team, co-ed rifle squad, and men's and women's track and cross-country programs.

In addition to the central campus, the college owns and operates a 1,000-acre farm in western Cedar Valley and a 3,700-acre ranch in Cedar Canyon. The campus is located in close proximity to Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and the Brian Head ski resort. The internationally acclaimed Utah Shakespearean Festival is presented each summer; and the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, the American Folk Ballet, Southern Utah University Press, Ashcroft Observatory, and a museum of natural history are important components of SUU. The completion in the summer of 1989 of the spectacular Randall Jones Memorial Theatre added another important cultural attraction to the college.

SUU prides itself on its broad-based effort to provide high quality instruction and to culturally enrich students and the community. A low faculty-student ratio (1:22) aids in the university's endeavor to distinguish itself as an institution devoted to excellence.

A ten-member institutional council implements policies assigned by the Utah State Board of Regents, including the appointment of personnel and the enactment of rules and governing regulations. The college is administered by a president, a president's council, the dean's council, the faculty senate, and the faculty.

Disclaimer: Information on this site was converted from a hard cover book published by University of Utah Press in 1994.