SUU Alumni Relations Executive Director Mindy Benson said that this year’s bash on March 27 is going to be bigger than ever, because the accomplishments achieved are of epic proportion.
She said seven years ago, university leadership launched an initiative to raise funds for buildings, scholarships, endowed chairs and student live projects on campus, and now that it’s come to a close, there is a lot to be thankful for.
“It was the largest and the most aggressive fundraising campaign in the history of our campus,” Benson said.
According to a press release, The Future is Rising: The Campaign for Southern Utah University, which was launched by previous SUU President Michael T. Benson, has surpassed the $100 million campaign goal.
Michael T. Benson said the campaign officially kicked off in 2007, but was not publicly announced until close to half of the goal was reached in 2011.
He said there were some, who thought it was an ambitious or even unattainable goal, but he knew it was within reach. He said that when he left the university at the end of spring 2013, he had no doubt that those who were left in charge would find the right donors to cover the final 10 percent of money needed to meet their goal.
“I hate to leave anything undone,” Michael T. Benson said. “But I knew that we were leaving the campus in very good shape and in very able hands – and the people who were assigned with finishing the campaign – I knew that they could do it.
He said that during the last two years of his presidency, SUU had earned their three largest contributions in the university’s history: $4 million for the College of Science and Engineering; $5 million for the New Shakespeare Theatre; and then $6 million for the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts.
The press release reported that the new addition to the campus would further establish SUU as a “regional arts mecca,” because it will house a multitude of visual arts, performing arts and art education venues and programs that will only serve to enhance the cultural climate of the community.
Although the release stated that The Future is Rising campaign exceeded expectations, Mindy Benson said the university plans to keep a tight lid on the final numbers until the big blow out on the 27th.
“The numbers will be announced and released that night,” Mindy Benson said. “But this is a celebration for the whole community – the alumni, faculty, staff, students, and the community members who have all been such an integral part of this campaign.”
Nikki Allen Koontz, Utah Shakespeare Festival media and public relations manager, said that the festivities will begin at the groundbreaking for the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts on the grounds of the Randall L. Jones Theatre at 3 p.m. She said that those who aren’t present will miss out on the all of the news they plan to share at the event.
“We are going to have a press release and more images available that day,” she said. “We are hoping that a lot of people will show up.”
Mindy Benson said that Founder’s Day is celebrated in March every year to honor those who created the university in 1897. She said that with the recent successes that the university has seen she believes the town deserves a celebration to remember by all who attend – which is why she said she worked so hard to bring in Grammy Award-winning musician Kenny Loggins, and Beatles tribute band, The Return.
“We thought what better way to bring in a Beatles tribute band and reminisce about the past then on their 50th anniversary,” she said. “So it’s a great way to honor the past of the university and the past of the festival by bringing back some of that nostalgia.”
Loggins, who according to his website found at www.kennyloggins.com, put out his first album Sittin' In with Jim Messina in 1971. The album produced well-known favorites like "Pooh Corner" and "Danny’s Song" – which Loggins said he wrote after his brother and sister-in-law gave birth to their first child. Later, in the 1980’s Loggins became a movie soundtrack legend writing popular hits like Caddyshack’s “I’m Alright”, "Footloose" and Top Gun’s "Danger Zone."
“My first arena concert was Loggins and Messina at San Diego Sports Arena (in) the 70's,” said Cedar City resident Nancy Graf. “I think the tickets were $3.50 – it was awesome – could be a full circle moment.”
Southern Utah University Student Association representatives secured up-and-coming pop artist Chris Wallace for the Thursday night line-up Mindy Benson said, as well as a possible, but unconfirmed, laser light show.
According to www.billboard.com Wallace's hit song "Remember When (Push Rewind)" sits at number 13 on the Billboard charts.
The free Thank You concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Centrum Arena at SUU.
Tickets are available now and are free (two per person), but space is limited, so they must be picked up in advance. They
Tickets can be acquired at the Centrum Ticket Office, by calling (435) 586-7872, or by going online to www.tbirdtickets.com and using the access code: public.