USU President holds listening sessions in Blanding

As part of her promise to hold listening sessions for different segments of the Utah State University community, USU President Elizabeth Cantwell traveled to USU Blanding to host sessions with various campus and community members on November 15.
President Cantwell spent the morning hosting various sessions, each for different audiences and stakeholders. As part of these listening sessions and roundtable discussions, President Cantwell focused on the three questions she posed to the USU community when she initially announced her listening tour in August:
What’s the greatest untapped opportunity that you think we have?
What are the greatest risks that you worry will put us off course?
What is the one thing you worry no one has had the confidence to tell me as your new president that you think I need to know?
Cantwell first held a breakfast event to meet with members of the Blanding community. She listened to several topics brought up by community members, including partnering with local industry, approaching and modernizing the educational approach and delivery, experiential learning, providing career options that are relevant to the current and future needs of the local community, and more.
Cantwell reiterated that she wanted to hear everything, so that USU can continue to be a resource to Blanding and its needs.
“These listening sessions are, for me, part of trying to understand the uniqueness of each campus,” she told those in attendance. “By understanding these differences, I can work along with our state Board of Regents and our Board of Trustees, so that we can perfect our capacity to serve.”
She also met with USU faculty and staff to gain insights and impressions from USU employees. She listened to concerns about enrollment, access to and focus on CE courses, getting more involved with leaders of the Navajo Nation and providing more pathways for that unique demographic of students, along with other concerns.
“Each location has a unique identity, and we serve those communities in unique ways,” Cantwell said. “We need to design a pathway to get us from where we are to where we need to be and check all the boxes. Nothing seems out of reach, but we must design it so that we are well prepared in the next decade. As the world changes, many other things need to change.”
She finished the morning hosting a listening session with USU students, who gave further insights. They spoke on online learning opportunities and difficulties, needs for a multicultural center, resources for post-traditional students, and much more. Cantwell shared with students things that were already in the works, as well as sharing with students what would be done with all the information she gathered in these listening sessions.
“We are going to use different kinds of analysis from all the feedback we get, and we will look at where the commonalities are, but also what the differences are from campus to campus,” she told students. “And we will share what we learn with everyone.”
Cantwell also highlighted that those who were not in attendance, or who did not ask their questions publicly, could still submit their answers and concerns online. This can be done by visiting
Offering residential campus housing and dining, Utah State University Blanding gives students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university, all while providing award-winning education. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees, plus technical education offerings in Business, Technical Trades and Health Professions, USU Blanding offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at

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