Since SUU opened its doors in 1897, a lot has changed. Changes include the mascot, the name of the institution and transitioning to a four-year university.
But to Scott Johnson, suma cuma lauda graduate of ‘84 and former SUU Alumni President, the most important thing hasn’t changed at all.
“Even though my story is 35-years-old, it is still kind of the same story,” said Johnson. “My son Matt just graduated in May and he had a lot of the same experiences that I did. So I thought, ‘Yeah, it is still the same cool place.’”
During his time at SUU, Johnson was very involved on campus. He served as an ambassador, President of Phi Beta Lambda and was a part of what we now call SUUSA.
When deciding which school to attend, Johnson was faced with many options but he knew that Cedar City would be his home.
“I just really felt this pull to SUU and really felt like that was where I wanted to be,” said Johnson. “I just had a lot of opportunities both academic and social that I wouldn’t have had at other universities here in Utah. Being an Alumnus just reminds me of what a great time and great education I had at SUU. It really formed the individual I have become.”
Over his three-year term as Alumni President, one of Johnson’s goals was to recognize alumni and their Legacies. A “Legacy” is a student whose parents or grandparents graduated from SUU. Johnson’s own son, Matt, was a Legacy and a four-year member of the SUU Basketball team.
According to Johnson, out of the 3,000 incoming freshmen of the 2019-2020 school year, 425 students are Legacies.
“We really focus on thanking those Alumni that are sending their students and letting those students know that, ‘Hey, this is cool, you are a part of the legacy of SUU,’” Johnson said. “It’s a big deal and we want to celebrate that!”
One of the ways alumni are celebrated is through homecoming week. Even before he was the Alumni President, Johnson made an effort to come back to homecoming each year with two of his college roommates. He calls it his “guys weekend,” stating that it is great that, “those of us that graduated in the ’80s are still good friends that come back during Homecoming to enjoy the events.”
To Johnson, homecoming is about reuniting the old with the new.
“I think there are two great parts to homecoming. One, rekindling some friendships and two, making a few new ones,” said Johnson.
His favorite event during homecoming week is Forever Red because it allows alumni, faculty, students and community members to come together and celebrate.
When reminiscing about being an SUU student, Johnson jokingly said “Stay in college forever” and more importantly the need to “Recognize the unique opportunity you have at the institution that is structured at SUU.”
But when the time does come for a student to spread their wings and leave SUU, Johnson reminds students to remember their time spent in Cedar City.
“You are part of an amazing alumni family,” said Johnson. “I know family is an overused word but I think that is true in our scenario. We all look towards each other as a family because we [have] shared a unique experience as a smaller institution. And as I always say, once a T-Bird, always a T-bird.”
Story by: Cassidy Harmon
Photo Courtesy of Scott Johnson