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2-year status suits Snow

New chief says college is the best at what it does

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Scott Wyatt

Scott Wyatt

The new guy at Snow College plans to brand and market the college as what it is — a two-year college that's the best at what it does, rather than fight to make it a university as other schools in the state have done.

"We do a better job of delivering education to freshmen and sophomores than anyone can," newly named Snow President Scott Wyatt told the Deseret Morning News. "Students can get more from participating in the partnerships we offer than they would from having to compete for it at other schools."

The school, which carries an annual enrollment of about 3,000 students, offers programs with assistance from Utah State University faculty and staff at the Ephraim campus in order to serve the diverse needs of students in the region.

"There is no better place to go to get a better college experience," Wyatt said. "For a parent who wants their son or daughter to get a good education, it's perfect because there are few distractions in Ephraim, it's a safe environment, we offer the best class sizes, the best faculty — there are no teacher assistants or adjunct professors — there is just no better experience away from home."

As the 15th president of the community college, Wyatt wants to help the school better understand its mission in the state's system of higher education. He hopes to foster meaning and understanding of the college's mission statement, which defines the college as a two-year institution catering to students who plan to transfer or students who need certification to get into the work force.

"A comprehensive community college meets a lot of the diverse needs of students and is very important to the system as a whole," said Amanda Covington, Utah System of Higher Education spokeswoman. "They serve a different role, which is necessary because our students are our customers and not every customer requires the same things."

In addition to Snow, she said Utah's other public two-year institutions, Salt Lake Community College and the College of Eastern Utah, also have a definitive place in the system — to cater to the needs of students in their regions.

"We have to have the facilities, institutions and programs in place to serve various needs," Covington said. The three institutions set up partnerships with universities in the state to "enhance the way they educate and serve their students and the work force."

Marketing the school, Wyatt said, won't be difficult because good programs, including partnerships with USU, are already in full force. He said the school's math, science and pre-engineering programs are unrivaled in preparatory education. The students who transfer from Snow to finish four-year degrees elsewhere "are at the top of their class," he said. "We send a whole lot of valedictorians to the engineering program at USU."

Another award-winning program, the Horne School of Music at Snow, has garnered a reputation of being the best of its kind, even earning a partnership with New York's Juilliard School of Music.

"It's the only junior college in the country that has a relationship with Juilliard," said Snow spokesman Greg Dart, adding that the music program is "unrivaled." The programs are good, he said, because they can focus on being short-term.

"We're not in the business of offering four-year degrees," Dart said. He said existing partnerships with USU conveniently allow students to further their educational endeavors. "It seems to work well for our students."

Snow's former president, Michael T. Benson, now president of Southern Utah University, "finished the campus," Wyatt said. "He changed the landscape of our college, now we need to fill it." He plans to focus on what the school has to offer in order to fill it with more students and grow the institution as a two-year college.

"Our biggest advantage is that it's off the beaten path," Wyatt said. "But being off the beaten path is also our greatest disadvantage. So we have to work harder about selling what we have."

Wyatt doesn't plan to make any institutional or policy changes, especially at the beginning of his tenure. However, instead of passing out doughnuts to students on the first day of classes like his predecessor did, he'll be helping students move into the dorms the weekend before school starts.

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com