ST. GEORGE – Dixie State College of Utah celebrated its largest graduating class in the institution’s history May 4, 2012, at its 101st Commencement Exercises held at the Avenna Center Burns Arena.
DSC conferred a total of 1,700 degrees, 141 more than last year, including a record 503 bachelor degrees, a 23 percent increase from last year (409 bachelor’s degrees), along with a record 1,197 associate degrees, which bested the previous mark of 1,150 set last year (4.1% increase from 2009-10). In addition, 242 vocational and technical certificates were awarded.
DSC alumnus and health research pioneer Dr. Gregory A. Prince was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities and delivered the keynote address to Dixie State’s Class of 2012. Prince shared with the graduates how deep his roots are in Utah’s Dixie, noting that his great-grandparents enrolled at the college a century ago and how he was of the third generation in his family to graduate from the College while paying tribute to his son, Chandler, who on Friday became part the fourth generation of the Prince family to graduate from DSC.
Dr. Prince, who is part of the sixth generation of the Prince family to have lived in the area since George Prince and his family were part of the founding colonists in the early 1860s, drew a comparison to the world his ancestors faced 150 years ago and the uncertainties in settling the area with the world DSC’s Class of 2012 will now face, with the uncertainties in today’s global economic climate.
“The world that Chandler and you fellow graduates face is unimaginably different – and unimaginably more challenging,” Dr. Prince said. “In a sense, the landscape that you gaze upon as you look into your futures is as daunting as the hostile desert that the St. George pioneers faced a century-and-a-half ago. You and they have faced the same, basic two choices: engage, or retreat.
“The diplomas that you will carry with you today witness that you have chosen to engage. For that decision, I congratulate you,” Prince went on to say. “Now go out and do great things.”
Of the record 503 baccalaureate degrees awarded on Friday, more than half (287) of the graduates came from four of DSC’s four-year programs – communication (95), business administration (71), integrated studies (63) and elementary education (58). In all, students will be graduating in 19 of DSC’s four-year degree programs, including the first-ever graduating class in criminal justice (three graduates).
Eight foreign countries and 29 states were represented in the Class of 2012, while 87.5 percent of DSC’s graduates (1,489 students) hailed from Utah. Washington County natives made up nearly 60 percent of Dixie’s graduating class (1,005), with 28 of the state’s 29 counties represented overall. Female graduates constituted 56.5 percent of the class and the class ranged in age from 16 to 64.
This year’s graduating class also featured the fourth class of high school students who were awarded an associate degree as part of the Southern Utah Center for Computer, Engineering, and Science Students (SUCCESS) Academy program. The SUCCESS Academy is a state-approved early college high school in partnership with Washington County School District and Dixie State College. This academically rigorous and challenging program provides students the opportunity to earn an associate degree through an on-campus college curriculum while also completing their high school graduation requirements at their boundary high school. The SUCCESS Academy on the DSC campus began in the fall of 2006 and to date, 179 students have completed the program and earned their associate degree, including 38 students this year.
Jordan Rich, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, represented DSC’s baccalaureate class as Valedictorian, while Bonnie Lish, a sophomore accounting major from Mantua, Utah, spoke on behalf of the associate degree class.
In addition, Dixie State College presented Distinguished Citizen Awards to Elvin M. “Andy” Anderson, Valerie B. Johnson, Bradford R. Rich, and Gloria Shakespeare, for their exemplary service to the college and community. Dixie State also paid tribute to eight retiring staff members, who combined to serve the College for 187 years, including Elsie Evans; Keith “Doc” Evans; Francis “Smitty” Smit; JoAnn Smith; Donna Stafford; Shelley Stephens; Rick Utterback; and Carole Williams.
Dixie State’s 101st Commencement Ceremony is available for viewing on DSC’s online video-on-demand system website at www.voddov.com/live, and will be re-broadcast on Dixie’s Community Education Channel throughout the month of May.