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SUU In View - Fall 2003 - Founder's Day | Alumni | SUU
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SUU In View (Alumni Magazine - Fall 2003)

Founders Day 2003

Founders Day, March 28, 2003, marked the 106th anniversary of the founding of what was to become Southern Utah University. Remembering heroic sacrifices of the founding of such a wonderful institution, and celebrating the modern day valiant efforts of individuals whose contributions, while different in nature, can be considered as significant to the future of the institution was the focus of the celebration.

Three individuals were enshrined in the Hall of Honor as their portraits were unveiled in the Steve L. Gilbert Great Hall in the Hunter Conference center.

The portraits of Bessie Peck Dover, Dr. Gary N. Giles and William Wallace Flanigan will be permanently displayed alongside of the original founders and those who have made monumental sacrifices throughout the 100 plus years since the founding of SUU.

Four individuals were honored for their distinguished service to the University, the community, and to the State. Longtime professor of music, Dr. Hal Campbell, prominent business operators Antone and Fern Hunter and Utah State Superintendent of Public Schools Dr. Steven Laing were presented Distinguished Service Awards.

Bessie Peck Dover ('46 general education), was born in Kanab, Utah, the only child of Alfred Leroy and Bessie Brown Peck. She grew up in Salt Lake City and attended East High School and the Photo: Bessie Peck DoverUniversity of Utah. Bessie married Kent B. Dover and moved with him to his home town of Cedar City after Kent's discharge from the military. Each of their children: Thomas Kent, Patrick Alan, Marilyn and Roy Kelley attended SUU. Most of the Dover grandchildren have attended as well.

Bessie began working at SUU, then BAC, in 1945 as secretary to Professor C. B. Cooley, head of the Industrial Arts Department. She retired, temporarily, the next year and after a 16-year interval of child rearing, Bessie returned to work at the campus on January 1, 1962 as an assistant in Information Services to help with publicity for the newly founded Utah Shakespearean Festival and other campus events and activities.

In 1964, Bessie assumed all duties connected with Information Services, including sports information for a two year period of time while her supervisor, George Barrus, was on leave.

Bessie began teaching one class a quarter in English and Journalism for the Communications Department. She continued in that assignment, as well as becoming adviser to student publications and a member of the Publications Council. She also continued with scheduling and advisement for traveling assemblies produced by the Drama, Music, and Dance Departments. She often traveled with Fred Adams or LaVeve Whetten and their groups to area high schools, disseminating college information as she went.

In 1974, Bessie was assigned (volunteered) as assistant to Ken Benson, coordinator of Student Activities in the Student Center. She maintained her advisement duties with publications and traveling assemblies and continued as Phi Alpha Beta sorority adviser and Foreign Student Adviser, a fast growing group she had been requested to advise while in Information Services. With this group, she organized a Foreign Students Club taking them on trips to the national parks and several times to Salt Lake City and southern California.

In 1977, Bessie applied for admission to graduate school at the U of U. During summers and one quarter of administrative leave, she worked toward a master's degree in Educational Psychology. After receiving her M.Ed. in 1979, she was assigned as Career Counselor in the Counseling Department.

In her new position, Bessie taught classes in Career Decisions, team-taught Personal Assessment, and assisted with freshman orientation and academic advisement, as well as personal adjustment advisement. She continued with foreign student advisement and taught Upward Bound classes.

Although Bessie did not continue with USF publicity after assuming her Student Activities responsibilities, she maintained ties with the Festival through volunteer activities as a hostess and helping with mailings. She traveled throughout Europe and in the U.S. with Festival founders Fred and Barbara Adams, and numerous other participants, on their annual tours. Bessie was a campus hostess and assisted with special student open houses during the beginning of each school year and at Commencement. She was also a Summer Games volunteer until after she retired on July 1, 1988. In 1997, Bessie assisted Anne Leavitt in compiling and writing selected chapters for the official SUU Centennial History.
Affectionately referred to as "mom," Bessie epitomized the campus's concern for each student as an individual. It is doubtful that anyone, except for her husband Kent, will ever know the extent of her acts of kindness and sacrifice for "her" students. The fabric of the university will forever reflect her personal love and concern for everyone associated with it, and especially for its students

Gary N. Giles ('57 accounting), noted for his dedication in providing superior, personalized instruction to his students, has made a major difference in the lives of his students.

Gary was a truly great professor that epitomized exceptional commitment to teaching and his profession. Beloved by his students, respected and admired by his colleagues, and truly appreciated by the accounting profession, Gary Giles served with distinction at Southern Utah University for 34 years before retiring in 1999.

Photo: Gary GilesAfter completing his associate degree at CSU, Professor Giles completed his Bachelor and Masters degrees at Brigham Young University and did Doctoral work at both Arizona State University and B.Y.U. He received his CPA designation in 1964, and worked for a number of years in the accounting profession. In 1965 he joined the faculty of Southern Utah University in the accounting department. President Royden Braithwaite invited him to come here to design a four-year accounting program. Gary believed as Ralph Waldo Emerson that "the secret of achieving success in education lies in having respect for the student." Professor Giles believed that each and every student in his class was a potential life-long friend.

He made it a habit of not only following the student's academic career at SUU with interest, but also their professional careers when they graduated. To this day Professor Giles can tell you where his students are employed and something about their personal lives. He truly has been a caring friend to his students. His personal interest in others and good humor are unforgettable hallmarks.

Gary and his wife of over 42 years, Vera, are the parents of seven children and more than a houseful of grandchildren. Service to the University, their community and church has been an important part of their lives. Gary's dedicated service to the University includes: serving as Department Chair of Accounting, (several times) serving on the faculty senate; serving on numerous committees, including the Statewide Masters of Accounting Degree Committee; and significant service in student recruitment efforts.

Professor Giles came by his love for education, in part, because of his parents being life-long educators. His father, Elvin C. Giles was principal for 37 years at Wasatch High School in Heber City, UT; and his mother, Susie Halladay Giles, taught elementary school for 28 years.

A noted racquetball enthusiast, Gary played tennis at BYU and tennis and football at College of Southern Utah, (SUU) and has won gold, silver & bronze medals at the Huntsman Senior Games.

Because of his outstanding service in the classroom and in his profession, Gary received numerous awards and honors; among them are: Professor of the Year, Educator of the Year, and Outstanding Educator for the State of Utah awarded by the Utah Association of CPA's, Distinguished Educator and the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. The strength of SUU's accounting program is indeed the lengthened shadow of Gary Giles.

William Wallace Flanigan The 1962 CSU (SUU) Student yearbook "Horizons" contained the following poem of tribute to William Flanigan:


Standing serene, secure and still
Is our favorite school on Temple Hill
In groves of stately evergreen
The feature of our colored scene
On whose firm foundation we well can lean
Until from within comes an eternal thrill
From these blessed trees of dear friend Will.
He used his strength, his power, his skill
His love of nature to fulfill
His trees now reach into the very sky
Pointing at truths up there on high
And though we pray and though we try
We can never fully repay dear Will
For these blessed trees on Temple Hill.

Though BNS (SUU) was established in 1897, Temple Knoll remained, in the words of Will Flanigan, "A rocky pile full of prairie dogs," until 1910 when he became campus caretaker. Although originally hired only for one quarter, Mr. Flanigan conceived the vision of campus beautification and during his years of service he brought in horse-drawn wagons from the mountains east of Cedar City, between three and four hundred trees which he planted on the campus, tending and watering them so carefully and skillfully that not a single tree was lost.

After being hired by Director (President) George W. Decker, Will went to work as a custodian, and doing all the odd jobs in and around the two original buildings, including the twenty-two and a half acres that comprised the campus. He would arrive at work at three or four a.m. to feed the boiler and warm the buildings.

He began digging ditches, planting small plots of grass and slowly experimenting with new varieties of grass. Will planted trees and shrubs, which he procured, as he said, "not from the expensive nurseries, but from the mountains and hills." When water was scarce, he sometimes stayed on the job eighteen and twenty hours a day. He said that if he hadn't loved doing it he could not have had the success he achieved. How he hated a burned spot in the grass. In 1943 after spending thirty-three years on the job, he retired due to poor health.

In May of 1947 Will reflected that, "The loveliness of College Hill has been praised to the skies. A mower can reach every spot of grass without danger of striking blind rocks, there are spots that I would change a little or rearrange, but I hope that succeeding landscape experts will find easier going on the hill where I spent the best years of my life. No matter who goes on with it from here, they cannot enjoy their work or get keener delight from watching beauty gradually emerge from ugliness, than I have done."

Will loved his association with students, teachers, visitors, the variety of work and the contact with good men and animals that he had on campus. He strongly believed that the worthwhile things in life are: humility, courage, patience, loyalty, faith and love. Will and his wife Nell celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, March 14, 1948. After having lived in two centuries, from ox teams to the Atomic Era, William Wallace Flanigan died at the age of 84 on June 16, 1961.

A campus centennial publication included the following tribute to Will, "Many of the trees on the campus are a living memorial to this one man, whose love for trees, along with his strong arms and broad shoulders, provided for generations to come a lovelier and better place for us to live." The University will long be indebted to Will for his great and productive work that he loved to do in beautifying the campus. Today, as we enjoy the beauty of the Southern Utah University campus it is easy to recognize the vision of Will when he said, "Nothing in all the plant world is so rooted in the affection and generation of mankind as a tree."

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