The impact of the merger on the College of Eastern Utah – San Juan Campus in Blanding is unknown.
In addition to potentially pitting two institutions of higher learning against one another, the proposal may also pit against one another the two elected officials who represent this area in the legislature.
Senator Mike Dmitrich is one of the key supporters of investigating the concept of the merger, while Representative Brad King is likely to be an enthusiastic supporter of retaining the College of Eastern Utah. King is the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Student Services at the college headquarters in Price.
King said that he anticipated, before the legislative season began, that the legislature would order a study of the merger in the current session and then address the merger after the study was completed. He was surprised to hear that the proposed legislation to consider the merger would be heard during the current legislative session.
“This may be a great idea,” said King. “But there are certainly a host of unanswered questions.”
King said that among a host of other things, he is concerned about the impact of the merger on the student body, the faculty, the alumni, and the communities.
Questions related to the student body would include admission standards (CEU offers open enrollment), tuition (college tuition is roughly half of university tuition), scholarships (increased tuition would cut into the number of scholarships that could be offered), partnerships (a large number of local students are enrolled in other government programs which cuts the cost of the education), and the 45 percent of CEU students who are enrolled in vocational programs (USU does not offer vocational programs).
Questions related to the faculty include the impact of tenure, wage levels, and research requirements.
Discussing alumni, King said, “There are alumni going back 80 years who may want to have a say in this decision.”
The impact on the community also needs to be considered, said King. Both the Price and Blanding campuses are based upon a community college model, which is significantly different from a university model.
While Utah State University has a significant presence on both campuses, the vast majority of USU courses offered in Price and Blanding are delivered via distance education.
The College of eastern Utah campus in Blanding has one of the most diverse student bodies in the state, with a large number of non-traditional students.