Underscoring a campaign promise to focus on the interests of rural Utah, Governor Spencer J. Cox opened a new rural office location on the campus of Southern Utah University on January 11. The space includes a Governor’s office, as well as an office for Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson and staff. The office will be used to host meetings with elected officials and convene regional events.
As the state’s first branch campus of the University of Utah, SUU has been a leader in distance education since its founding. The Cedar City community banded together to found the university in 1897, serving students who were unable to move to achieve their educational goals.
“Our founders mortgaged their homes and risked their lives retrieving lumber from the mountains near present-day Brian Head to construct SUU’s Old Main,” said President Scott L Wyatt. “Today, we don’t have to go up the mountain in the middle of winter to build opportunities for those that live in rural Utah. The path to expand is already laid before us, we just need new paradigms, we need to energize our cooperative efforts, and deepen our commitment to innovate. We are well on our way.”
As part of the administration’s rural initiatives, Governor Cox appointed SUU’s assistant vice president of the Office of Regional Services Stephen Lisonbee to serve as the newly created senior advisor for rural affairs.
“This campus has a long history of innovation and collaboration and it’s resulted in building some of the most amazing communities,” said Lisonbee. “That’s why the world is coming to us. During 2020, we’ve seen a wave of individuals coming into our communities. It is a safe haven and has great access to a high quality of life. I look forward to helping rural Utah have a voice within this administration and working closely with our rural communities to help them find success.”
“The symbolic and practical effect of Governor Cox planting an office in this historic building and rural Utah is huge,” said President Wyatt. “We are happy to be a part of it.”
Stephen Lisonbee Assistant Vice President of the Office of Regional Services
Specializing in workforce and economic development, community outreach, and leadership development