Guest column: College of Eastern Utah at crossroads
The College of Eastern Utah has been an important part of this community for more than 70 years. But the College now sits at a crossroads. We are searching for the best route toward a sustainable future.
CEU is fiscally sound and academically successful. Recent budget cuts have hurt, but we have managed them without having to fire or furlough employees and the college is operating in the black. We are fully accredited with a number of nationally award-winning programs. The education we provide is outstanding, as legions of our graduates who have gone on to successful careers and productive lives will testify.
However, enrollment at the College has dropped. This is due, in part, to the declining number of college-age people in our regional population. Since CEU draws the vast majority of its students from high school graduates in Carbon, Emery, Grand, and San Juan counties, the decreasing number of young people has had a serious impact on the college. In order to respond to these conditions, the college must come up with new ways of doing business.
As we consider making changes at CEU, it is worth keeping in mind what it is that community colleges do and why they are so valuable to our society. Small community colleges throughout America, including those in rural areas like CEU and Snow College, have a long, proud history of educating local residents, young and old, contributing to the regional economy, and serving as community hubs for social and cultural activities.
Which choices will best preserve this tradition? What place should rural colleges have in a higher education system dominated by urban politics and interest groups? How can CEU adapt to changing population, economic, and technological conditions while honoring the rural lifestyles and regional heritage that we hold so dear?
Finding the right answers to these questions will not be easy. Some tough decisions lay ahead. The College needs the advice, support and good will of its friends and neighbors. Working together we can ensure that the people of southeast Utah will continue to have affordable access to all the services that a comprehensive community college provides.
Our children and our community deserve nothing less.