SUU In View (Fall 2002)
From Cowpunchers to Computers
A sixth college debuts on the SUU campus in fall 2002
On the desk of Dan Dail, associate professor of animal science, and now chair of the applied science department, sits a statuette of the classic patriarch of American agriculture, the Cowpuncher. And, in Cindy Wright's office, the latest on computer savvy adorns the walls, desk and bookshelves. From cowpunchers to computers, SUU's new School of Applied Science and Technology embraces a diverse offering of critical disciplines.
SAST was formed as a result of the University's recent prioritization and reallocation studies. It will provide focused instruction to students whose interests and aptitudes are essentially applications-oriented, as well as provide skilled workers to communities and industries. It will also play a key role in interfacing with the newest member of the Utah System of Higher Education, the Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT).
Dr. Cynthia Wright, a 21-year veteran of the SUU faculty, is the dean of the new School. "The disciplines within applied science and technology are exciting, innovative and dynamic," she says. "SAST will be a place where students will learn more than skills. The disciplines are more academic, more challenging, more rewarding and more relevant than ever before. It is an area of education where programs must remain on the cutting edge of new technology and on the frontline for students' needs."
The School's objective is to produce highly-skilled technical specialists with the potential for growth to meet defined workforce needs. Graduates of the School will be marketable technicians in technology, information systems applications, family and consumer sciences, agricultural and governmental agencies. Also, the SAST education will adequately position undergraduates to pursue advanced degrees in a number of academic areas.
Wright lists three strategies for reaching the goals of the School. "We seek to focus on students and their need for quality technical programs; continue efforts to improve the image and promote the value of applied science and technology; and to strengthen our collaboration with UCAT, business and industry."
The SAST curriculum will maintain an interdisciplinary academic partnership with colleagues and programs across campus in order to develop unique offerings to meet specific workforce needs. In designing SAST, faculty and programs in the new School were drawn from SUU's departments of biology, family and consumer sciences, business education/information systems and technology/criminal justice. "SAST will provide an opportunity for faculty from diverse areas, with common goals, to work together to strengthen applied science and technology programs," Dr. Wright declares.
The collective effort of the School meshes well with the technology initiatives of Gov. Michael Leavitt, an SUU business technology graduate himself ('78). His plan for a more technologically-prepared workforce in the state will be strongly supported by the mission of SUU's School of Applied Science and Technology. SAST and UCAT will coordinate Applied Technology Education resources with Workforce Services, Rehabilitation Services, the Southwest Utah Area Health Education Center, and high schools in four regional school districts. The cooperative process, Wright explains, allows for flexible and timely program changes to keep abreast of the needs of business and industry, so that students can be trained for jobs in specific areas.
Dr. Cynthia Wright, who has been an associate professor of family and consumer sciences at SUU, as well as the department chair, now leads the University's new SAST as dean, overseeing faculty and the education of some 800 students.
Dr. Wright received her bachelor's and master's degrees in home economics education from BYU, and her doctorate in adult and occupational education from USU. In 1975, she spent a year in Mexico teaching health and nutrition in public schools, communities, and governmental agencies, working closely with local authorities to improve the standards of living, and the health and welfare of Mexicans in remote villages.
One of her many endeavors includes ongoing research on the weight status and weight dissatisfaction of university students. She has also presented extensively on the subject of computers and internet resources in the classroom for family and consumer sciences teachers and students.
Dan Dail, associate professor of animal science, is the chair of the applied science department, while Richard Wittwer ('78 Industrial Arts), associate professor of automotive technology, is the chair of the applied technology department.