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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Dixie State College, a 96-year-old school with 6,000 students, said it is exploring a partnership with the University of Utah that would lead to a name change and more academic programs in a fast-growing corner of the state.
"If we get approval across the board, we could start this as early as July," spokesman Steve Johnson said.
Trustees unanimously voted Friday to open discussions with the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
"The demographics of Dixie State's student body is changing and we are simply not keeping up with their needs," said Shandon Gubler, chair of Dixie State's board of trustees.
"Southern Utah now faces a business community that is demanding a wide spectrum of educational services, including applied technology and health-science certificates, associate degrees, bachelors degrees and masters degrees," he said in a statement.
The plan would need approval by trustees at both campuses and the state Board of Regents before being presented to the Legislature during the 2008 session.
Dixie State offers bachelor's degrees and two-year associate degrees.
Lawmakers earlier this year approved a partnership in which the university provides instructors for master's degrees in special education, nursing and executive business administration in St. George.
That led to discussions by Dixie State trustees and local business leaders to pursue a broader alliance.
If approved, Dixie State President Lee Caldwell would become school chancellor and report to University of Utah President Michael Young, Johnson said.
Dixie State's name could change to University of Utah-St. George or University of Utah-Dixie, he said.
"We expect baccalaureate degrees will rise to meet both our community's needs and our students interests," said Donna Dillingham-Evans, vice president of academics.
"Additionally, we anticipate that masters degree offerings will increase as interest and technology will allow," she said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)