CEDAR CITY — Snow College President Scott Wyatt is poised to trade in his Badgers gear for Thunderbirds memorabilia after being tapped Friday for the top job at Southern Utah University.
The Utah Board of Regents unanimously selected Wyatt after a national search produced nearly 70 candidates.
"What a thrill this is going to be," Wyatt said. "My image of this institution has continued to grow and grow and grow, and we have so much respect for Southern Utah University."
Wyatt expressed that he was humbled by his selection. He said there are many members of the faculty and campus community who were at SUU before he came and will continue to be there after he leaves whose help and suggestions he welcomes.
"I’m confident that I’ll make a few mistakes, but please know they’ll be honest mistakes," he said. "I hope that you understand how serious I am when I say this: I need everyone's help and advice, and if you think I’m taking a wrong turn, please know that I want to hear it."
Wyatt was one of four finalists announced for the position. Also in the running were SUU Executive Vice President Bradley Cook and two out-of-state candidates, Southern Polytechnic State University President Lisa Rossbacher and Jacksonville University College of Business Dean Don Capener.
Under Wyatt's tenure as president, Snow College has consistently ranked among the top 10 junior colleges in the country. Wyatt also oversaw the creation of the school's first four-year degree program, the most successful fundraising campaign in school history and a 40 percent increase in enrollment over the past five years.
Board of Regents Chairwoman Bonnie Jean Beesley praised Wyatt for his work at Snow College and said his record of innovation, collaboration and institutional strengthening will be a benefit to SUU.
"We are so pleased that he has accepted this new responsibility," Beesley said.
Wyatt replaces former SUU President Michael Benson, who left the school in April after being selected to fill the presidency of Eastern Kentucky University. Benson served as SUU president for six years and, like Wyatt, previously served as president of Snow College.
Since April, former Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Kendall has acted as interim president of SUU. On Friday, Kendall expressed his thanks to the campus community and his appreciation to the board of regents for granting him the opportunity.
"Coming here and being part of this community with the students, with the faculty, with the administration here, reminded me in a very powerful way why I decided to become an educator," he said. "It’s been a privilege for me and my wife. We have just loved it. We have loved being here."