CEDAR CITY — Holding back his emotions at the conclusion of Southern Utah University’s Founders’ Day celebration Thursday, SUU President Scott L. Wyatt announced the largest single gift received in SUU’s history, a $7.5 million contribution from the Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation.
From the Leavitt Foundation donation, $5 million will go toward the construction of a new building for the University’s School of Business and $2.5 million will support student scholarships, according to an SUU press release.
“Throughout the years, the Leavitts have stepped forward to help SUU in its most critical moments, this gift will transform Southern Utah University,” Wyatt said. “The most difficult part of finalizing this gift was convincing Dixie and Anne to let me announce it. They wanted it to be anonymous, but I wanted the University and our community to be able to express its gratitude. And we need more role models like them for our students, examples of hard work, good character and family devotion.”
Dixie Leavitt came to Cedar City in 1947 where he attended SUU, then called Branch Agricultural College, and met his future wife, Anne Okerlund.
After graduating from BAC, Dixie Leavitt taught at West Elementary School in Cedar City until 1952 when he created The Leavitt Group, which is now the seventh largest privately held insurance brokerage in the nation, according to the press release. The Leavitts have been of service to the community and the university throughout their time in Cedar City including Anne Leavitt’s book, “Southern Utah University: The First 100 Years.”
When the University needed student housing, Dixie and Anne responded by building apartments for both single and married students and when the University needed more scholarships, they gave knowing they were contributing to student success and the lives of others from humble beginnings.
As their business expanded and profits grew, the Leavitts established the Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation to support the university in perpetuity.
Now, with the expansion of the university’s School of Business they have responded to the request to provide the first gift toward a new building.
“This gift kicks off our fundraising campaign for the new Business Building,” Stuart Jones, vice president of advancement and enrollment services, said in the press release.
With the momentum gained because of the Leavitts’ gift the university has quickly secured a second donation of $500,000, Jones said, and plans to raise an additional $3 million or $4 million towards the project.
SUU has outgrown its current business building, which will be repurposed for other student educational needs. Since the construction of the current business building in 1980, the number of business majors has more than doubled and the school has added new programs, including master’s degrees in management and accounting, the release stated.
The new home of SUU’s School of Business will be constructed with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in order to prepare business leaders for the future, according to the press release.
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