BY KELLY BLUTH
As a former junior college contemplating university status, Dixie State College in St. George is in transition — just like its students.
“Dixie has a very diverse and interesting atmosphere,” said Tyler McGinnis, a student from St. George who has attended Dixie for five semesters. “Dixie has always had a small town feel which I have loved. This past semester I can honestly say that I established a connection with every professor that I had and every one of them knew my name and were interested in my success.”
The atmosphere at Dixie has drastically changed within the past few years, and the benefits are sprinkled throughout the college, from the students to the professors to the community. President Stephen Nadauld has been serving at Dixie for nearly four years, and much of the improvements have come from his apt desire to fast-track Dixie into the future.
“Dixie State University is in our future,” Nadauld said. “We have added core degrees that we need to be a university. We have had a nearly 70 percent increase in our enrollment. We have more than doubled our minority population. We have added a number of buildings and facilities for student services.”
The recent renovations and outreach toward international students has boosted Dixie’s credibility and marked it as a college serious about providing the best education possible for its students. While many students attend a community college and have no plans of transferring, there are those that utilize a smaller college and all it has to offer to prepare them for a bigger university.
McGinnis, a star basketball player in high school, said he put basketball before academics during those formidable years. Therefore, he did not have the grades to attend BYU, where he hoped to go, and instead enrolled at Dixie. Despite his original disappointment, McGinnis said Dixie prepared him mentally for his acceptance into BYU.
“Dixie gave me a kick start to my college education,” he said. “When I went to Dixie I decided to get serious with my education. It gave me a great opportunity to knock out my general education classes while remaining free from student’s loans. Professors here really try to understand your personal situation and they do all they can to help you out.”
With around 8,500 undergraduate students compared to BYU’s 30,000, Dixie provides obvious benefits as a smaller school where interpersonal communication and relationships in and out of the classroom are common.
“You tend to create a connection with other students in your class, which aids in the learning process,” McGinnis said. “I will miss the connection that you can establish with your professors when the class sizes are fewer than 20 students.”
Dixie offers its students that smaller class feel, along with providing each and every student with constant upgrades and increased bachelor’s degree options. McGinnis said he will miss the relationships and perks that Dixie, as a school that values continuous change and constant innovation, offered him and his education. He believes he has been adequately prepared by Dixie to attend BYU.
“Perhaps the most important thing I’m excited for is the atmosphere that is present at BYU,” McGinnis said.
McGinnis feels his time at Dixie and what he accomplished there has all been part of the plan — he was supposed to go to Dixie, and now BYU, and every step along the way has helped better him and develop him into the person he is today.
“I have loved the time I have spent at Dixie and even if I could I wouldn’t change the path I decided to take to start at Dixie and then transfer to BYU,” McGinnis said.