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CEU one step closer to affiliation with USU

SALT LAKE CITY — A unanimous preliminary vote in the Senate on Friday puts the College of Eastern Utah one step closer to a proposed affiliation with Utah State University.

SB69, sponsored by Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, puts the care of the two-year community college, which has struggled with enrollment numbers and finances, under the authority of the research institution in Logan, however, with a chancellor at the helm. The legislation changes the name of the school to Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah and establishes it as a "comprehensive regional college of USU." Utah State already operates three regional campuses, in Brigham City, Tooele and the Uinta Basin.

Officials at both institutions have expressed satisfaction with the proposed model, which CEU interim president Mike King said "has the potential to be the best thing that's happened to higher education in southeastern Utah." He said talks to merge the two institutions have been ongoing for several years, but the community college mission and preserving the culture there have been paramount to a final decision.

Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg said the decision "is not driven by the economy; it's not driven by cost savings; it is really driven by the need to enhance educational opportunities in southeastern Utah."

It is projected that USU will provide additional bachelor's degree and graduate programs to the merged CEU upon final approval in the Senate and acceptance in the House.

e-mail: wleondard@desnews.com