This archived article was written by: Zak Konakis
With the release of the latest merger study, it appears the merger between the College of Eastern Utah and Utah State University is in a state of arrested development, for now at least. However, this can change in January when the legislators start session once again.
At the end of the study, CEU Interim President Mike King and USU President Stan L. Albrecht, were given three options from the Commission of Higher Education William A. Sederburg. They could continue forward in the merger, stop all talks of merging the institutions, or pause studies and collect more information about merging and coming back after extra data is collected.
Both presidents opted for “concluding the study at the present status. There are significant issues that have been identified regarding a possible merger or an enhanced partnership between CEU and USU. A report on what has been learned from the interviews – the issues that must be addressed if a merger is to be considered – could be developed for the use of policy makers and interested stakeholders in the event further action is desired.”
In spite of halting the discussion of the merger, in his letter to Commissioner Sederburg, King stated, “The college realizes that a close relationship with Utah State University is an advantage to our students and our com-
munities. We have hosted USU on our campus many years; realizing the importance of access to four-year degrees in Southeastern Utah. We were excited two legislative sessions ago when money to enhance such partnerships was allocated through HB 185. We have expended considerable effort and money to develop and market the programs, and hire faculty. We consider this to be a win/win arrangement.”
This mutual understanding of the need for enrichment of the programs at CEU, that the discussion of the merger started. The college needed additional funds and more budget. After the merger began, Sen. Mike Dmitrich said, “I had the best interest of the college at heart.” After taking into account the needs of the college and knowing what needed to be done, talks of merger started, but before the merger could go through, data had to be collected.
The committees collecting data consisted of CEU and USU instructors, administration, alumni; each focusing on finance, faculty and employee and educational programs and students tackling issues of redundant employee positions and how they will be handled.
In King’s opinion, the pros and cons of the merger between the two institutions were not explored sufficiently to recommend a merger at this time. “However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this discussion come up again at some point in next year’s legislative session,” King concluded.