CEU recreation classes may be in question
Summer has come to Carbon County. With its arrival, Spring has left and many outdoor recreation class offerings at the College of Eastern Utah are in danger of leaving too. The fall schedule of classes lists Hand Guns I and II, Intro to Firearms Handling, Marksmanship, Service Learning, Tai Chi and Kung Fu in the recreation section. The complete lack of outdoor classes stirred up a controversy on campus as nothing had been publicized concerning the issue.
"Putting out a schedule that wasn't complete might have been premature but our intention was never to completely cancel these classes," Vice President of Academic Affairs Greg Benson said.
After the schedule was published an initial meeting with Benson, Carbon County Recreation Executive Director Steve Christensen and Interim President Mike King was held to discuss options and intentions for the partnership. Nothing was agreed upon according to those involved.
Currently Carbon County Recreation and CEU have a Memorandum of Understanding in place. The MOU that has been in place since 2007 divides responsibility for the different aspects of running an outdoor recreation program. In the document a 90-day warning from either side concerning the termination of the program is needed. Carbon County gave notice to the college of the approaching deadline and King made the college's concerns known at that time. That agreement expires June 30 of this year.
Funding for the program has never had a steady source within the college. With $2,000 a year being used to subsidize a Carbon County equipment rental program and $11,000 earmarked for staff support per year, the community recreation partnership which encompasses Carbon County Recreation, CEU and Carbon School District adds $6,600 to the bill for a total cost of $19,600.
Until now CEU has managed to find ways to pay for the partnership according to King. Both Benson and King expressed their desire to continue some if not all of the classes. With 80 percent of the college's budget tied up in personnel costs, there isn't much room for other programs, according to King.
Christensen explained that three years ago he devised an outdoor leadership degree outdoor leadership degree program and handed it over to CEU. The program was accepted by the curriculum and instruction committee at CEU pending funding was made available for the program. Funding never materialized and the program was scratched.
From an administration standpoint recreation classes are important to the education experience that students receive while attending school in Price. Being in Castle Country affords great opportunities for students and faculty alike because of the close proximity to a variety of outdoor destinations.
"I think it draws a lot of people here because of our locale being close to different outdoor activities," King said.
Benefits of the program have included science trips that teachers were able to attend. River rafting while learning about the environment is something that not everyone has done or gets the chance to do.
"I think it has been very beneficial, we have been able to do some interesting things," King stated.
Recreation officials see the programs as essential to the learning processes.
"College doesn't necessarily have to be about textbooks and classrooms," Carbon Recreation Assistant Director Frank Ori said.
Christensen agreed with Ori.
"Promoting learning outside of the classroom is key to achieving knowledge as well as giving students a reason to come here," he explained.
There are always challenges ranging from making sure that there is good communication between governing agencies and offering courses that are cost effective, according to King.
"We have to be careful about that. The driving force for discussion has been budgetary but the move to rearrange the document was started after the county gave the notice that time to do so was running out," King said.
"We are pretty sad that the program is ending," Christensen said. His biggest push for the program has been to create a reason for students to attend CEU. "Why would they bypass other institutions to come here?" he asked. There are reasons but not many when it comes to the average student he added.
Inexpensive tuition, getting away from mom and dad and going into the outdoors are major factors. Christensen has worked extensively with University of Utah and matriculated every class offered at CEU so that classes transfer straight across. With more emphasis on experience in the field rather than classwork students are better prepared for the field, according to Christensen.
"I honestly believe that we have by far the best outdoor program in the state when it comes to experiences," Christensen said.
If the college continues at least some of the recreation classes Christensen hopes that Carbon Rec will be involved because of their continued push to grow this program.
"It's really difficult to put your heart and soul into something only to have other people who have other priorities in control," Christensen said.
According to Christensen not having many offerings of activities once students come to Price will be a downfall. Working with the resources available is key to the further growth of CEU. Making Price a destination of choice for reasons other than low tuition must be a priority.
On July 1, the merger will be official between Utah State University and CEU. With the new administration will come a chance to have another partnership put in place. If no compromise is reached the push will begin again to implement an outdoor program.
"We're not going to just roll over, we'll continue this with the new administration. It's good for the community, not just the college. Carbon commissioners have been really supportive of these programs," Christensen said.
"I've started the majority of CEU outdoor classes," he continued. "I've been teaching for 22 years at the college. Bo (Steve's son), has been teaching kayaking for seven years. We used to tease him that he had to get release time from high school to teach a college class. When I started (the classes) CEU was only offering a mountaineering class. There was no risk management, I taught rock climbing for years without having any release forms being signed."
The degree program is too good to give up according to Christensen, but now three years later it seems it will be gone.
"These programs have been really successful, it will be sad to see them go," Christensen concluded.