On July 17 the Utah Board of Regents approved a task force recommendation that will, in effect merge, the College of Eastern Utah into the Utah State University higher education system.
The official term for the merger, according to CEU interim president Mike King is to call the local college a "comprehensive regional college within their system.
"Though this gives us a direction, there are many questions to be answered and issues to address as we move through the next steps in this process," said King in an email to college employees.
"It is the intent of the commissioner to hire a transition director to act as an intermediary between CEU, USU, the commissioner's office and the BOR task force. The main responsibility will be to help craft an MOU (memorandum of understanding) that will protect the needs and interests of both schools and be acceptable to all parties."
For two years, the college, CEU students and employees have been in a state of limbo, not knowing for sure what would happen to the school.
Options seemed to range from phasing out the facility to keeping CEU a free standing junior college.
The USU merger idea had been bantered around for years and few people were surprised by the decision of the task force that had been studying the issue nor the decision of the full board of regents last week.
King said a lot is still up in the air and how things will exactly happen remains uncertain.
"I don't know the structure of the negotiation process at this point, but do know that it will need to involve several individuals from our campus that represent various interest groups," stated King.
The interim president asked in the email that all employees think of the things directly related to their departments that will need to be addressed during such negotiations.
"This next phase of work will be critical for the entire CEU community," he wrote. "Your (employee) input and cooperation during this time will be absolutely necessary to ensure that CEU is heard as we construct the MOU that sets our future."
Once things are hammered out, the board of regents plan to ask the Utah Legislature to pass guidelines making the merger complete.
The board of regents resolution indicates:
CEU has done an excellent job for the past 70 years in meeting the educational needs of the citizens of eastern Utah and has improved the lives of thousands of state residents.
The College of Eastern Utah faces increasing challenges, largely driven by a 26 percent decline in enrollment during the past five years.
CEU has the highest instructional costs per student (state appropriations, tuition and other instructional expenditures) compared to other Utah higher education institutions.
The College of Eastern Utah has a much heavier dependence than other USHE institutions an state tax funds - more than seven dollars for every dollar of tuition.
Declining state revenues (a reduction of 17 percent of ongoing state funds during FY 2010 and FY 2011) are challenging CEU to remain financially sound.
CEU uses state funds at a disproportionate raze compared to other Utah colleges in order to recruit students; and
The financial capacity of the College of Eastern Utah to meet current and future educational needs in the southeastern region of the state is increasingly limited.
CEU has done an admirable job in responding to state budget cuts.
The College of Eastern Utah continues to provide a quality educational experience for its students.
Utah State University, in fulfillment of its statewide land-grant mission, is prepared to establish a comprehensive regional college with campuses in Price and Blanding.
The faculty at the College of Eastern Utah is well qualified and can be integrated into the educational structure of USU.
The southeastern region of Utah needs to be served with a comprehensive set of educational programs, including vocational, community college, baccalaureate and graduate level programs.
Utah State University can enhance regional economic development opportunities in the southeastern region.
Therefore, let it be resolved that:
â¢Maintaining the status quo condition of the College of Eastern Utah is not a viable long-term option..
â¢CEU should be affiliated with Utah State University to meet the challenges it faces and to enhance higher education programs for the residents in the southeastern region of the state.
â¢The affiliation of CEU within the multi-campus system will be as a comprehensive regional college, which will be different from the status of other USU regional campuses.
â¢Utah State University will be charged with responsibility for the governance, personnel, finances and facilities management of the College of Eastern Utah through statutory amendments and regents' policy changes.
â¢The characteristics of a "comprehensive regional college" include:
College of Eastern Utah will be led by a chancellor, who will be the resident chief executive officer of USU-CEU. The chancellor will report directly to the president of Utah State University.
A diverse range of student activities, cultural, social and athletic programs will be supported.
Lower community college tuition rates for lower division and career and technical education programs will be maintained
The College of Eastern Utah will be overseen by the USU Board of Trustees.
The current CEU Board of Trustees will transition to a regional advisory council.
The governor will be encouraged to appoint a southeastern Utah resident to be a member of the USU Board of Trustees. If necessary, the size of the current USU board will be increased to facilitate the representation.
The specific provisions of the status of CEU as a comprehensive regional college within the USU system will be formalized in a memorandum of understanding.
The memorandum of understanding will be developed through discussions between CEU and USU staff to be initiated immediately.
The development of the memorandum of understanding will be overseen by the commissioner's office in collaboration with the regents' CEU task force.
An independent representative of the commissioner will facilitate the development of the memorandum of understanding.
The board of regents will continue to monitor the implementation of the memorandum of understanding for two years after the passage of enabling legislation.
â¢In January 2010, required legislative changes will be sought.
â¢If enabling legislation is enacted, during spring 2010, relevant board of regents policies will be amended to reflect affiliation of the College of Eastern Utah within the USU higher education system.
â¢If enabling legislation is enacted, on July 1, 2010, CEU will begin operation as a comprehensive regional college within the USU multi-campus system.