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USU celebrates a new zero-energy Moab campus

The facility is the first net-zero building in the USU system. USU representatives are excited about the building, but they are also excited about solidifying a pathway to higher education for locals in Moab.

People are touring the halls of the new Moab campus, eating Aggie ice cream and donning complementary USU t-shirts. Local Joe Kingsley is taking it all in. He’s waited 25 years for this moment.

"I feel like I'm asleep and I'm dreaming. I'm so excited I’m numb," said Kingsley."

Kingsley is on the advisory council at USU-Moab. Decades ago, dreamers like him believed that Moab could have a university up on a hill. It took visionaries, land donations, politicking, and lots of funding but that dream is now here.

"I’m in a daze because so many people thought we were crazy, they said it will never happen. This is a contribution and a first step towards the building of a strong cornerstone for this community," said Kingsley.

One speaker during the event called this opportunity. For many years USU-Moab was based in what used to be old government offices. They didn’t have much room to grow. Now, the college is in building that suits their needs and can expand programming.

"I can't get off that word opportunity – it’s just a fantastic, fantastic thing," said Dave Sakrison.

Dave Sakrison was a huge advocate for a new campus during his many years as Moab City Mayor. He shared that the word ‘opportunity’ comes from a Latin phrase meaning ‘favorable winds coming toward a harbor.’ That for him, defines what USU could be for this community.

"I think it's going to open a lot of doors, and it puts Moab on the map, that we do have a higher education facility here. So, I think this is the beginning of grand things, to be quite honest with you." 

So across here is the nursing lab. This is the Moab Regional Hospital nursing classroom. There are three stations that are set up exactly like the hospital…." said Sara Wall.

Sara Wall is showing a local high student around the campus’ nursing wing, answering questions about what it’s like to study public health. USU-Moab’s degrees are career-focused. Wall is graduating with a job at Moab Regional Hospital.

Other USU-Moab students are already employed locally, and they’re seeking degrees that can help with their career advancement.

"So yeah, I am a mom, I have three kids and I am currently teaching at the high school right now," said Jamie Reidhead.

Jamie Reidhead is getting a degree in special education. She says the professors at USU-Moab understand the needs of a nontraditional student like her.

"There's been times where, you know, I've had big things coming up in my life with my family and with my job. And it's really easy to just talk to the professors and say, ‘hey, look, I have this going on right now.’ And they're very accommodating and supportive and they've really been amazing."

"And I just want to say one of the most striking things of this ribbon cutting event is seeing families," said Cockett.

USU President Noelle Cockett during her speech before the ribbon cutting of the new campus. As she spoke, kids ran around and played in nearby sandy soil. She and other USU representatives say they want the Moab community to feel that this is their campus.

"Like this is the place for them." 

Longtime locals reminisced about their great-grandparents getting an education in a one room schoolhouse in Moab. Today’s kids have the opportunity to get advanced degrees right here. Along with the new campus, there’s a new Moab Community Scholarship that will go toward assisting a local student to attend classes.

"And so if we make this a really nice and welcoming place, they’ll go, ‘oh yeah this is my place, I’m going to be there..."
said Lianna Etchberger, associate vice president of USU-Moab.

During the event, USU gave out packets of seeds. Aggie Blue Flax. It’s a metaphor of course about spreading education across the state.

"Just starting to plant that seed, like those little seeds that we have here, to start blossoming, right? And they might take root in this building," said Etchberger.

Classes at the new USU-Moab campus will begin this summer.