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Home / Archive / Featured Article - September 2008

Monticello Campus Groundbreaking

A report on the historic events of August 29 and 30, 2008.

On August 29th and 30th, hundreds of friends and community members gathered in Monticello, Utah for the festivities and ceremony accompanying the historic groundbreaking of George Wythe University’s Monticello Campus. 

Tours guides were available both days to show guests the campus grounds. A delightful gathering Friday evening featured live entertainment and local food vendors. Early Saturday morning a sunrise devotional was held on the campus grounds with local educator, Randy Larose, providing remarks. The actual groundbreaking ceremony commenced that afternoon with local pastor, John Williams of First Baptist Church, offering the invocation and Dian Thomas, a celebrity of local origin, serving as master of ceremonies.

Please see the accompanying photo gallery for pictures from all of the events associated with the groundbreaking.

At the groundbreaking ceremony itself, the opportunity was taken to officially announce the transition of George Wythe College to George Wythe University as approved by the George Wythe Board of Trustees earlier that month and the State of Utah earlier this year (see related article).

Accompanying the event were the announcement of changes in the university leadership structure. Dr. Oliver DeMille was named University Chancellor and is responsible for all academic programs at all campuses. Dr. Shanon Brooks was named University President and is responsible for the university administration infrastructure that will serve all colleges. Dr. Andrew Groft was named President of the Cedar City Campus and will oversee all academic programs at that location. Dr. Shane Schulthies was named President of the Monticello Campus and will oversee all academic programs in Monticello once full-time, on-campus programs commence there.

Attendees were pleased to hear from Rachel DeMille who spoke on behalf of her husband, GWC President Oliver DeMille, who was unable to attend due to poor health.  She articulated the vision that Dr. DeMille had laid out over a decade ago:

“George Wythe College was founded to be a liberal arts school of leadership with emphasis on the transformational experience that occurs when students and mentors come face-to-face with greatness through the great classics of mankind.  To do this, we had to reject economies of scale and maintain a very low student-to-mentor ratio.

“In Oliver’s mind it was inevitable that as we started to deliver the ideal we had in mind, more and more students would be attracted to participate in this relatively unique experience.  Many years ago he began to articulate a model of a college with no more than 148 students.  When student populations began to push that limit, an additional self-contained college would be formed, with its own president or head mentor who would be directly responsible for those 148 students, and its own faculty.  A Chancellor would oversee all academic programs of the multiple colleges and act as principal mentor.  

“Administrative duties such as operations, fundraising and development would not be the responsibility of these mentors; theirs was to deliver the Face-to-Face with Greatness experience.  A University President would relieve these key individuals of these and any other necessary functions that could compete with their higher purpose of education. “

She characterized the incoming college presidents as, “men for their time—hand-picked and well-prepared for the task and mantle with which they are today officially and publicly charged”, and introduced new GWU President, Dr. Shanon Brooks, as “the right man, the only man for the job.”

Drs. Brooks, Groft and Schulthies also addressed the audience.  Following are excerpts from Dr. Brook's remarks:

"I again recognize city and county officials, President Ronald Johnson from the LDS Temple presidency, Pastor John Williams from the First Baptist Church, members of the Board of Trustees, supporters of George Wythe University and our newest friends, the citizens of Monticello. I would also like to recognize the event coordinator of this event – Manike Collins.

"There is one who is not with us today, and I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for his efforts and sorrow for his absence. There is nothing that Dr. DeMille wanted to do more than to share this moment with his friends.

"Thank you for taking the time to join with us for what we sincerely intend to be a great moment in the history of San Juan County. Speaking of history, allow me to share a brief account of another school—in another time.

"I quote:

“'(Visitors) found [the] premises inadequate, facilities limited, students few in number and poorly prepared, and financial conditions exceedingly discouraging.  To make matters worse, there were many, even among the influential men in the community, who not only had no confidence in the stability of the new venture, but openly used their influence against it.

“'…The [first academic terms] had demonstrated the fact that the strength of the [new institution] was not in her financial condition, nor could her aims be to enter, for the present, into competition with institutions of higher education in our country, nor was her distinguishing characteristic to be sought in the professional [qualification] of her teachers, for all of these advantages have been claimed and enjoyed by schools of learning before [she was created], and yet [there was a] necessity for the establishment of a new kind of educational institution.

“'…All the above-mentioned adversities of the infant institution were blessings in disguise.  Without means, [and] by relying upon the liberality of her patrons, [this school] engendered a growing interest among the people ... Without [traditionally trained] teachers sufficiently devoted to its sacred cause to labor for a mere nominal salary, the Academy was forced to create a… department composed of volunteers, [in essence, the school had] to raise her own teachers; without a board of members experienced in educational affairs, they went through an empirical training in having their attentions turned gradually from the primitive conditions of the beginning to the more complex organization of the school’s further advancement.

“'[Thus were] the ever-changing scenes of development which [our institution] has passed through, whether holding forth in one single room under makeshift arrangements or enjoying the benefits of more suitable facilities…

“'If in the midst of all these changing scenes, clouds of discouragement did occasionally darken the horizon of our vision, they were always dispelled by the voice of the spirit whispering: "O ye of little faith."’”1

"This is not an uncommon story. Virtually every great institution, business, school, church and country that has ever existed, has experienced a similar beginning. We are no exception.

"And just as other great institutions have begun, struggled, developed, expanded and changed the world around them, we too will find our place in the annals of history.

"All great dreams have required vision, sacrifice, hard work, perseverance and reliance on a Supreme Being. America was colonized, expanded and developed first on the dream of a new world. Then it was the American Dream that brought millions to her shores. This is the land of Dreams.

“'Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.' (Goethe)

“'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.' (Margaret Mead)

"And one of my mentors, Dr. William H. Doughty—if he said it once, he said it a thousand times: 'There is no magic in small dreams.'

"Ours is a 500-year dream, a 500-year vision. Global solutions will emanate from this institution. The small rural city of Monticello will be known around the world as the place where statesmen are built—the place where freedom, virtue, determination and responsibility beats in the heart of each student, mentor and citizen. Graduates will leave the nurturing protection of these mountains and enter society not only prepared to face the world, but equipped to infuse it with a level of leadership and devotion to goodness that has no equal in modern times. Great giants of industry and innovation, paragons of selfless political service, heroes and heroines both domestic and abroad will live by the code of the pursuit of excellence and claim George Wythe University as their Alma Mater.

"A few months ago, I had the privilege to wander the ancient campus of the College of William and Mary. I stood in awe of 326 year-old buildings and classrooms still in use today. I walked where Thomas Jefferson and other Founders walked and talked and transformed into men. I considered in amazement just what it took to build those facilities and the goodness that has come out of them, not for decades but for centuries.

"But that college has served America for more than 300 years only because a group of people conscientiously chose to sacrifice personal benefit for the good of society then and for generations untold.   We call this kind of selfless action Public Virtue. And we call those who exercise it Founders, whether it is during the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment or the new age we are now entering. Every age needs its Founders.

"But where are the Founders of the 21st Century?

"I proclaim to you boldly, that many modern Founders are in this assembly today, as we dedicate—consecrate—this land to the building of Statesmen: men and women of virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage, who inspire greatness in others and move the cause of liberty.

"There are many here today, students, graduates and citizens, who historians of another generation will record as Founders.

"The day will come, when thousands of students from all nations of the earth and tens of thousands of visitors will walk these grounds, contemplate the majesty of these buildings, stroll through these neighborhoods and reverence the hallowed halls of this institution, asking themselves: Who were the people that built this campus? Who made this possible? What kind of incredible sacrifices did they make?

"George Wythe University exists for one purpose—to support the colleges. The university leadership consists of a Chancellor and a University President. Their sole administrative purpose is to create a physical and technological environment that sustains the colleges.

"This university will, over time, support 40 or 50 colleges on various separate campuses. Today, we have 2 colleges with plans for more, soon to be revealed. It is my honor to introduce to you the new presidents of those colleges: Dr. Andrew Groft, President of the Cedar City College and Dr. Shane Schulthies, President of the first College on the Monticello Campus.

"Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to George Wythe University!"

 

Click here for a photo gallery of the events surrounding the groundbreaking.

Click here for a photo tour of national parks and other attractions located within "8 minutes" of the Monticello campus.

Click here for more information about the Monticello Campus development effort, including a complete on-line version of the beautifully illustrated Monticello Campus Charrette Book produced by Arc Sitio Design, Inc., Brad R. Houston Urban & Architectural Design and Arosemena & Soundy Arquitectos of Panama City, Panama.

 

1. Excerpts from an address delivered on October 16, 1891 by Karl G. Maeser on the occasion of Brigham Young Academy’s first Founder’s Day Exercises.

 

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