President Scott L. Wyatt not only gave up his home last fall to benefit Southern Utah University students by converting his house into a childcare facility, but he gave up his personal office in Old Main to Gov. Spencer J. Cox on Monday.
Cox released the official budget announcement for the state of Utah in his new Governor’s Office for Rural Affairs on SUU’s campus Jan. 11. Broadcast live through his Facebook page, he signed two executive orders that will push for more remote job opportunities and will require state agencies to determine which jobs will relocate to rural Utah.
“Gov. Cox is the first governor in Utah who was living in rural Utah when he was elected,” President Wyatt said. “When he ran his campaign, he ran on a platform where he really wanted to remember rural Utah.”
During the live broadcast, Cox announced the opening of three offices in Old Main to function as a place for Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and their staff to work from rural Utah.
According to Cox, the opening of these offices will give a voice to areas in Utah with a smaller population.
“This symbolic and practical effect of Gov. Cox planting an office in Old Main in rural Utah is… big,” President Wyatt said. “We are excited to be a part of it.”
When President Wyatt became aware of the governor’s search for an office space in rural Utah, he called to offer his personal office space in Old Main.
“They were looking in different places, and none of them were in Cedar City. I called and said, ‘I know where the prettiest office in southern Utah is, and it’s mine. And you can have it, I would be honored if you would take it,’” President Wyatt said.
Cox accepted, and President Wyatt moved into an office space across the suite less than half the size.
The governor has two children that attend SUU, and the lieutenant governor also has a child at the university, which will provide personal as well as practical convenience at the location of the office, as Cedar City offers a conveniently located airport and easy freeway access.
In Cox’s new office, a massive flatscreen TV hangs on one of the walls, a new addition courtesy of President Wyatt. Prints of rural Utah are placed around the room, and the state’s seal hangs behind the desk.
“This will be the first time ever that the governor will have the Salt Lake office and an office in rural Utah that he can visit whenever he can,” President Wyatt said.
Cox added an additional position to the governor’s cabinet this year. Steven Lisonbee, the assistant vice president for the Office of Regional Services at SUU, became the senior advisor for rural affairs in Cox’s administration.
“The governor asked me if he could do something that has never been done before, which is that Lisonbee remains an SUU employee and also serves on the governor’s cabinet,” President Wyatt said. “What this means for SUU is that rural initiatives will go through this university.”
President Wyatt noted that with the addition of the three offices, SUU will now regularly welcome visitors from the state’s administration. With the office on campus, the president believes that it is a tribute to higher education across the state.
“It gives us wonderful access and it helps people realize that the governor cares about Southern Utah University,” President Wyatt said. “[Although] we are going to go out of our way to allow the governor his space, it will give us a chance to promote Southern Utah University.”
Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photos by: Christopher Dimond