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See Your Strength pg. 12 Brussels Bombing Survivor pg. 16 Trailblazer Baseball pg. 30

DSU magazine - Spring 2018

Editor-in-Chief Joel Griffin

Art Director Scott Garrett, ’15

Illustration & Design Scott Garrett, ’15 Kimberly Hammons, ‘17 Tori Lewis Mylee Macdonald Valerie De La O

Photography Scott Garrett, ’15 Bryce Parker

Writers Joel Griffin Jyl Hall Steve Johnson Erin Hakoda Hanna Pollock

Copy Editors Joel Griffin Jyl Hall Dr. Jordon Sharp Marilyn Lamoreaux Deborah Millet, ‘75 Erin Hakoda Hanna Pollock

Feedback griffin@dixie.edu 435-879-4412

To Update Contact Information alumni.dixie.edu/update-your-records


Cover Photo: Bryce Parker

50 Years of Dixie Spirit Roene DiFiore’s Program Bureau created unity through song on the Dixie campus. Last Homecoming, her former students celebrated Program Bureau’s 50th anniversary and DiFiore’s memorable legacy.

DEPARTMENTS 2 Letter from President Williams 2 DSU in the News 6 active learning. active life. 8 Hot on the Trail 26 Focal Point 36 Alumni Message


FEATURES 12 See Your Strength DSU student Amber Murray’s decal company spreads positivity on campus bathroom mirrors to combat depression and thoughts of suicide.

14 Riding in Style The Live Well St. George bike-share program by Zagster launched in January, providing a fun and environmentally friendly mode of transportation to Dixie State students.

16 Resilience in the Face of Terror

Two years after surviving the Brussels Airport terror attack as a Mormon missionary, DSU student Joseph “Dres” Empey tells of forgiveness and positivity after living through a nightmare.

30 Believe in Pfate Trailblazer Baseball has established a culture of winning on and off the field under the direction of Head Coach Chris Pfatenhauer.

34 Dedication to Dixie DSU campus, community, and alumni mourn the passing of former Alumni Director Kalynn Larson and remember her life and example.




30 #ActiveLearningActiveLife • www.dixie.edu •


Trailblazer Nation DSU in the news Dixie State University made history on Jan. 26, when our Board of Trustees unanimously approved the addition of our first-ever graduate degree program, a Master of Accountancy. Pride in the institution and excitement for the future was palpable as the Trustees moved to vote on the proposal. It definitely was a great day to be a Trailblazer.

In celebration of the momentous occasion, Governor Gary Herbert declared Jan. 26, 2018, as Dixie State University Day in Utah. The declaration recognized the educational and engagement opportunities the new degree offers not only Washington County, but the entire state. The program will fill students’ professional accounting educational needs by teaching them the conceptual, technical, analytical, and communication skills required to work as tax and accounting professionals. Looking forward, we are building up our master’s offerings by working on creating graduate programs in software development and genetic counseling. Along with the master’s degree, the Trustees approved a Bachelor of Music in performance and a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, increasing the University’s offerings to 193 different academic programs, including 40 distinctive baccalaureate majors. It is remarkable to see how DSU has grown leaps and bounds since gaining approval to offer its first bachelor’s degree in 1999. The Bachelor of Music will prepare students for careers in the music industry by requiring them to work through core music courses including theory, ear training, and musicology training. As an additional part of their education, students will perform in recitals and ensembles of varied sizes and purposes. Across campus, the new bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering will expand the capabilities of students interested in math and science by providing a hands-on education. The degree will prepare students to pursue advanced degrees and careers in engineering, science, or computer science disciplines. All three new programs are set to begin this fall. Dixie State University is proud to add to the number of academic programs available in southern Utah and is passionate about providing our students and community with new opportunities. Preparing students to fill the region’s workforce needs truly makes every day a great day to be a Trailblazer.

Dr. Richard B. Williams President of Dixie State University


• Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

Dixie State Boasts Highest Percentage of Enrollment Increase in Utah for Two Years Running This fall, Dixie State welcomed its largest student body ever, making the institution the largest university in southern Utah. In addition to reaching a total headcount of 9,673 students and welcoming the largest freshman class in the institution’s history, the University saw the highest enrollment percentage increase among Utah’s public colleges and universities for the second consecutive year. The Utah System of Higher Education’s Thirdweek Headcount Enrollment Report for the Fall 2017 semester indicates that DSU saw a 7.56 percent increase in total headcount and a 7.74 percent increase in full-time equivalent students from 2016 to 2017. Long term, Dixie State’s growth has exceeded 50 percent in total headcount since 2008. In addition to the increased enrollment, the University experienced a 32 percent increase in admitting students with a GPA of 3.75 or higher, as well as growth in diversity, particularly among the Hispanic and Pacific Islander/Hawaiian student populations, which jumped by 10 and 22 percent respectively. “Dixie State University’s growth is all thanks to the many members of our campus community who have made this happen,” DSU President Richard B. Williams said. “They all do it with a unified mission to improve our institution and provide the best learning environment possible for our students.”


Human Performance Center to Change Landscape of Southern Utah Dixie State University broke ground on its Human Performance Center this October, adding a 155,000-square-foot academic, fitness, and recreational facility to the southern Utah landscape. The center, expected to be finished prior to the Fall 2019 semester, will hold the specialized classrooms and labs DSU needs to offer health and human performance programs, such as Recreation & Sport Management, Population Health, and Exercise Science. The facility will also provide the space necessary to partner with the University of Utah to offer Physical and Occupational Therapy programs in southern Utah. In addition to housing the University’s Campus Recreation and Intramural programs, the building will include a student fitness center, basketball courts, the tallest climbing wall on a Utah college campus, and an indoor track that connects to an open-air rooftop via a suspended sprint track. Additionally, the roof will provide space where the University can host special events outside. The center will also feature a 50-meter Olympic-sized swimming pool with deck and spectator space, making it the only pool in southern Utah to meet NCAA requirements to host Division II meets and only the second in Utah to do so. Catering to the needs of southern Utah’s event-based tourism industry, the facility will be equipped to host local, regional, and state high school swim meets, Huntsman World Senior Games competitions, and other community-sponsored sporting events. The $55 million project is funded by appropriations from the Utah State Legislature, student fees, and donations from Washington County, the City of St. George, and private contributors.

Digital Forensics Program Recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence Dixie State University’s Digital Forensics program recently received recognition as a National Center of Digital Forensics and Academic Excellence from the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center. Dixie State’s Digital Forensics Crime Lab is a leader in cutting-edge technologies and processes within the digital forensics field and now meets the Defense Cyber Crime Center’s standards to be one of the top educators of future digital forensic professionals. “My main focus in training students in digital forensics is their employability,” Gary Cantrell, associate professor of criminal justice, said. “With today’s growing technical-based workforce, anything that will give students a boost on their résumés will give them a needed advantage. I like giving our students an edge.” National Center of Digital Forensics and Academic Excellence programs are dedicated to helping students develop an awareness of current issues facing digital forensic workers and giving them a desirable and unique skill set. The new designation creates opportunities for DSU students to work with the government to prepare them to fill the increasing federal digital forensic demands. “DSU students will be able to add two certificates to their list of achievements upon graduation from our digital forensics program: Digital Media Collector and Digital Forensic Examiner,” Cantrell said. “These two certificates make them eligible for the equivalent certifications directly from the Department of Defense’s Defense Cyber Investigations Training Academy.” #ActiveLearningActiveLife • www.dixie.edu •



Legend Solar Stadium’s East-Side Grandstand Nearing Completion Phase II of the Legend Solar Stadium renovation project — the addition of a grandstand complex to the east side of the field — is on track to be completed this spring and will equip Dixie State University’s stadium to seat 10,000 Trailblazer fans. Construction began in September and is expected to be completed by the end of April. In addition to seating 5,000 more fans, the 14,558-square-foot building will house locker rooms for visiting teams and officials, restrooms, concessions, ticketing, storage space, and athletic training facilities. The addition of the grandstand will increase the stadium’s capacity to 10,000 and enable it to become southern Utah’s premier hub for large-scale athletic, public, and civic activities. DSU will not only be able to host NCAA Division II tournaments, but the new grandstand will also allow DSU to accommodate high school state tournaments and community concerts. Already hosting the Huntsman World Senior Games and high school marching band competitions, the stadium will be able to accommodate more people at these popular events.


• Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

Phase II is set to be completed just in time for Dixie State University’s 107th Commencement Exercises on May 4, when the stadium will host a combined ceremony for associate and baccalaureate degree recipients. The processional will begin at 8 a.m. and guests are asked to be in their seats by 8:30. The project’s third and final phase, for which programming is underway, is an extensive renovation of the facility’s existing west-side grandstand. The updated grandstand will include new locker rooms for DSU student-athletes, offices for coaching staff, improved space for athletic training, expanded restrooms, a new press box, box suites, updated ticketing office, and a more inviting front entrance. Construction on Phase III will begin after funding is secured. Phase I, which included resurfacing and widening the track and updating the field, was completed during the summer of 2017.


Friday, April 6

Thursday, April 12

Movie in the Park

World Record Event

8 p.m. Innovation Plaza South Field

M onday, April 9 Brooks’ Birthday Featuring Food Trucks & Hot Air Balloons

6 - 8 p.m. DSU Encampment Mall

Tuesday, April 10 D-Queen Pageant

7:30 p.m. Cox Performing Arts Center $10 General Admission | $5 with Student ID

Wednesday, April 11 Comedian Preacher Lawson Featuring the Dixie Idol Finale

7:30 p.m. Cox Performing Arts Center

Free Donuts!

6 p.m. DSU Encampment Mall

Friday, April 13 The Great Race

5 p.m. DSU Encampment Mall

D-Week Carnival

6:30 p.m. DSU Encampment Mall

Saturday, April 14 Whitewash the “D” 8 a.m. Black Hill

Evening of Dixie

7 p.m. Wade Alumni House

$5 General Admission | Free with Student ID

Visit DIXIE.EDU/DWEEK for more information

#activelearningactivelife • www.dixie.edu •


active learning. active life.


Last January, Dixie State University student Alexander Mitchell stood in front of 6,000 of the greatest modernday minds in mathematics to present his groundbreaking research at the Joint Mathematics Meeting, the largest math conference in the world. The Math Association of America invited him to represent DSU and share his new formula that could aid in the prevention of future Ebola virus outbreaks by providing a model that shows how to track and predict its spread. Mitchell is a senior, set to receive his bachelor’s degree in May — and he’s only 16 years old. “Originally, I wasn’t good at math,” Mitchell admits, referring to his elementary school days. “My classes just got dull and repetitive; I was more interested in reading books than doing homework.”

As a result, his grades tanked. But around sixth grade he began studying math on his own and quickly grasped higher concepts typically taught several grades above him. Eventually, Mitchell’s parents wanted his class material to be more challenging, so they let him take a test to move up a grade. He repeated the process several times and began earning college credit as his peers entered middle school.

In researching the disease, he noticed most papers were using old data, so he created a more accurate model using statistics that were lacking beforehand. He produced a model that indicated how Ebola spread over time through personto-person interaction, and it provided an accurate fit to the number of Ebolacaused infections and deaths in Sierra Leone, Africa. He hopes the model can be used as a predictor for future outbreaks.

At 15, Mitchell signed up for a class at DSU with Vinodh Chellamuthu, an assistant professor of mathematics. Chellamuthu says he noticed Mitchell’s exceptional talent during classes and felt he was capable of achieving greater things. Under Chellamuthu’s guidance, Mitchell created the innovative formula for modeling Ebola outbreaks.

In addition to presenting at the Joint Mathematics Meeting, Mitchell will share his results at the Utah Conference for Undergraduate Research, as well as the Mathematical Association of America sectional meeting in late March, and MathFest in August 2018. He plans to publish his research after receiving feedback at these conferences.

“Alex connects what he gains from his classes and uses it in real-life situations,” Chellamuthu says. “With his Ebola formula, he took what he learned from both his math and computer classes, applied it to something he’s interested in, and ended up with a solution for a serious problem in our world.”

After Mitchell graduates, he plans on attending graduate school to further his computer science education. So far, he has applied to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge University, and the University of Utah, among others.

When Ebola took over the news in 2014, it piqued Mitchell’s interest.





• Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

“I definitely wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I have without DSU,” Mitchell says. “The programs allowed me to attend college much earlier than I would have otherwise been able to, and the faculty and classes have been instrumental in my education.”





#activelearningactivelife • www.dixie.edu •



CATCHING UP WITH DIXIE ALUMNI Story by Erin Hakoda || Design by Tori Lewis

GUY SMITH, ’06 - ’12 Guy Smith is a freelance makeup artist and works on projects for television, theatre, and film. His most recent film project was on the set of “The Greatest Showman.” Smith loves that he can combine his background in painting, photography, and theatre in a field that involves both problem solving and artistic expression. “Dixie taught me that in life not all walls are walls; some are just really steep stairs,” Smith says. His professors at Dixie dedicated valuable time and resources to Smith, he adds, which were instrumental to him while studying creative practices.


• Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

Gregory Mortenson, a St. George native, says that while growing up, Dixie College was always a big part of his culture. Mortenson is now a figurative artist in New York City and creates oil paintings of portraits and figures. He also teaches painting and drawing at the Grand Central Atelier. Mortenson enjoys each and every step involved in creating art, and his time at Dixie College greatly influenced this love. He was first introduced to life drawing at Dixie by Professor Del Parson, his first painting and drawing instructor. “Sometimes I’ll paint an eye and remember I’m doing exactly what Del taught me all of those years ago,” Mortenson says. “I’ve studied with a lot of influential artists since my time at Dixie, but Del’s teaching is the foundation that is still supporting my work today.”


#IWentToDixie • www.dixie.edu •



DERRICK & JULIA SHELLEY, ’15 Derrick and Julia Shelley met at Dixie State University, where they eventually graduated together — Derrick with his associate degree and Julia with her bachelor’s in communication. Derrick is now a fifth-grade teacher at Bastrop Intermediate School in Bastrop, Texas, and Julia is an aquatics specialist over four aquatic venues in Round Rock, Texas. The couple says they both felt very at home at DSU and are especially grateful it afforded them so many opportunities. Julia was involved in Campus Rec, which is where she got her aquatic management experience, ultimately leading her to her current job. The pair also enjoyed attending sporting events and club activities, and they both worked for Dixie Sun News. “Dixie was where our lives took off,” Derrick says. “We met at Dixie State, and thanks to the education and experiences we had there, we have been able to dive right in to life with both of our careers.”

10 • Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018





CALL 435-652-7570 FOR MORE INFO


STRENGTH Story by Erin Hakoda Design by Kimberly Hammons, ’17 Photography by Scott Garrett, ’15

Four years ago, in the depths of depression, Amber Murray felt isolated and struggled to find value in her life. She didn’t recognize herself, let alone love herself. Murray seriously contemplated taking her life after battling with depression, abuse, and anxiety for years. In a moment of clarity, she knew something had to change and reached out to a friend for help. Staring at her reflection the next day, Murray instinctively grabbed a bar of soap and wrote “Step into your life” on her mirror. The words would become the first of many uplifting messages that would reshape her life. “It didn’t sink in at first,” she reflects. “But after seeing those words repeatedly, they gained meaning for me.” Murray is now a mother of four, a business owner, public speaker, and Dixie State University student. She has dedicated herself to promoting positivity through her mirror decal company, See Your Strength. A portion of the company’s profits are donated to her nonprofit organization, Life with Connection, which is centered on helping individuals with suicidal thoughts.

“If you reach out for help, things will change.”

12 • Dixie State University Magazine

“We spend a lot of time in front of the mirror tearing ourselves down,” Murray expresses. “But I think seeing positive language daily really has the power to build us back up.” Wayne Provost, director of innovation, guidance, and solutions at DSU, helped Murray bring her idea for See Your Strength to life. He immediately recognized the need for her product, which promotes sayings such as “Focus on the good” and “I am whole exactly as I am.” “Her messages make an impact on people because they come from a genuine place,” Provost says. “She knows what they’re going through because she’s been there.” In light of the Utah legislature’s recent declaration of mental health as a public health crisis at higher education institutions, Dixie State has made suicide prevention a top priority. In 2017, DSU opened a new Health & Counseling Center facility closer to main campus. Led by a full-time director, who is a licensed psychiatrist, the center also has a full-time therapist and several part-time therapists available to students. Last year, DSU also established the first collegiate HOPE Squad chapter, which is comprised of a group of students trained to help peers dealing with suicidal thoughts.


“Those who struggle with suicidal thoughts feel like their emotions will be consistent forever, and we forget people are here to help us,” Murray says. “If you reach out for help, things will change.” The See Your Strength decals, which can be found on bathroom mirrors at Dixie State and other businesses, are accompanied by a crisis text line, which encourages suicidal individuals to text the word “HELP” to 741-741. “It reminds people they have resources to talk to,” Dean of Students Del Beatty explains. He says since the decals were installed last semester, two students have already told him that the messages on the mirrors are what led them to seek help. “We want them to know it’s OK to say something.” As word spreads, more higher education institutions and businesses have been contacting Murray to get the decals. “I just want to reach as many people as possible with See Your Strength,” Murray says. “Everyone should know they are powerful and have the capacity to change the trajectory of their lives to overcome depression and sadness.”

#ActiveLearningActiveLife • www.dixie.edu • 13


Boasting more than 300 days of sunshine, an average annual high temperature of 77 degrees, and worldclass scenic views, St. George is the perfect location to take a bike ride. Factor in that the city houses a university that takes its “active learning. active life.” mantra seriously, and it’s clear there is no better place to take advantage of the environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Now, thanks to the City of St. George’s new Live Well St. George bike-share

Story by Jyl Hall Design by Valerie De La O 14 • Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

program, getting around town and campus just got a lot easier.

Bikes are available to rent for $2 an hour Launched this January, the program started with 55 bikes located in 10 stations throughout the city. Bikes are available to rent for $2 an hour, allowing riders to run quick errands or go on long scenic tours. Though not required to use the bikes, annual memberships are available to make using the system

even more affordable. In fact, a student annual membership is available to DSU students, emphasizing the program’s partnership with the University. The project operates in conjunction with Zagster, a bike-share company that operates more than 200 programs in 35 states, and is sponsored by community partners such as Dixie State University, Dixie Regional Medical Center, Select Health, Washington County, and Injury Smart Law. To participate in the program, users simply download the Zagster

BIKE-SHARE PROGRAM rename 300 South, students can now ride, walk, run, and drive from campus to downtown on Trailblazer Boulevard. The newly renamed street fittingly forms a “T” with University Avenue at the entrance of campus at the beautiful Holland Centennial Commons and Human Performance Center, which is under construction and expected to open in late summer of 2019.

TRAILBLAZER BLVD. app, which is available for Apple and Android users. Payment is processed though the app, and a code is given to unlock the bike. After riding, the user can return it to any Zagster station. The app even includes a map that shows available bikes at each location. Station signs detail the process and even offer an option for users who don’t have smart phones.

To participate in the program, users simply download the Zagster app

housing, the Dixie Center, and the hospital. While allowing students to ride recreationally or ditch their cars to run errands, the light-weight, easy-to-use bikes also offer a valuable transportation option for those who may not have cars on campus. With big plans for the program and hopes of hosting 100 bikes citywide by year’s end, St. George’s partnership with the University doesn’t end with the bike program. Thanks to the city agreeing to

By partnering together, the City of St. George and Dixie State University are offering ample opportunities to experience Dixie’s unique “active learning. active life.” brand, making southern Utah the ideal destination to recreate, learn, and live. To learn more about the Live Well St. George bikeshare program, visit zagster.com/livewellstg.

DSU’s three on-campus stations are located just south of the Campus View Suites plaza, outside the Outdoor Recreation & Adventure Center, and by the Russell C. Taylor Health Science Center on the Dixie Regional Medical Center campus. Each station houses five bikes and makes it easy for students to get across town to other stations, located everywhere from Town Square and Pioneer Park to the SunTran bus stop across 100 South from student

#TrailblazerNation • www.dixie.edu • 15


Brussels Airport bombing survivors Mason Wells (left) & Joseph Empey (right)

Story by Erin Hakoda & Joel Griffin

16 • Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

Design by Kimberly Hammons




REFLECTING ON THE 2016 BRUSSELS ATTACKS “When I came to, my ears were ringing and all I could see was smoke, small fires, and fallen ceiling panels everywhere. There were people lying on the floor, and I realized it was most likely a terrorist attack.” In the moments following the Brussels Airport bombing in Belgium, Joseph “Dres” Empey couldn’t fathom how such evil could exist and why he and his fellow Latter-Day Saint missionaries were put through it.

that morning. After four months of service in Belgium awaiting a visa, she was eager to catch her flight to Ohio, where she was originally called to serve. Less than five minutes after they arrived at the check-in line, however, a suicide bomber — 25 to 30 feet ahead — wreaked havoc, setting off a luggage cart full of explosives and nails. Empey was knocked unconscious and lay on the ground when the second explosion hit nine seconds later.

As the two-year anniversary of the bombing approaches, Empey, a Santa Clara native and Dixie State University student, recalls the harrowing events of March 22, 2016.

Had they not been late for the metro or mistaken Clain’s departure time for 10 a.m. rather than 10:40, they would have likely avoided the attacks altogether. However, Empey wouldn’t change a thing about the way the morning’s events unfolded. “I’ve learned to see the positive in every situation and just move forward instead of harboring negative feelings,” he says.

He and his companion, Mason Wells, along with senior missionary Richard Norby, escorted Sister Fanny Clain to the airport

Making his way outside the airport, Empey found his companion, who had a severed Achilles tendon and multiple burns and

Between the two attacks at the airport and a third in the Brussels Metro, 32 victims were killed and 320 injured.

#IGoToDixie • www.dixie.edu •


BRUSSELS BOMBING SURVIVOR that way. But it was a trial of my faith that helped me grow and ultimately led me to forgive.” He found strength in the messages and prayers from people all over the world and from different faiths. “It was amazing to receive such support,” he says. “That was a big part of what helped me find acceptance.” Scarring on his hands and shrapnel remnants in his nerve-damaged legs are lasting physical reminders of the attack. Nevertheless, Empey has moved on and even seems grateful to have lived the experience.

“I’ve learned to see the positive in every situation and just move forward instead of harboring negative feelings.” gashes on his legs and head, being comforted by a Muslim woman. “Everyone else who wasn’t hurt cleared the area, but she stayed behind to help him,” Empey says. “A lot of discrimination against Muslims comes from fear of terrorism, but she was the perfect example of compassion in contrast to those terrorists who claimed to be of Islamic faith.”

18 • Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

Clain made it out as well with minor injuries, but when Norby didn’t join them, Empey re-entered the airport and found him alive on the ground. Norby was in critical condition with a badly broken leg and severe shrapnel wounds and burns. When paramedics arrived, he received immediate care, and doctors put him in a medically induced coma at the hospital, where he would stay for close to a month. It wasn’t until Wells pointed out the burns on Empey’s hands and face that he noticed the pain. It was even later, when the adrenaline wore off, that he began to feel the shrapnel wounds all over his legs that then made walking unbearable. As the companions sat on the curb waiting to be treated, it began to sink in — “Dude, I think our missions are over,” Wells said. “I was pretty devastated,” Empey recalls. “I only had a few months left and I wondered why our service had to be cut short in

“I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not been there,” Empey explains. “I just remember how I stayed calm when looking for the other missionaries, how the adrenaline rush felt, and what it was like watching EMTs and paramedics help the victims.” As a result of the experience, he plans to become a paramedic firefighter in Clark County, Nevada. He enrolled at Dixie State University upon his return and recently received his Emergency Medical Technician certification. He currently works as a radiology technician’s assistant at Desert Pain Specialists and looks forward to enrolling in the Paramedic Program. On Empey’s left hand that bears the worst visible scars now sits a new wedding ring. He and his wife, Elle Roberts, tied the knot last November. “I’m married, happy, and life is good,” he says. “I’ll never forget that day at the airport; it was terrible and sad, but I have a lot to be grateful for.”


2018 OCTOBER 4


Utah Symphony

The Hit Men



BYU Ballroom

Nathan Pacheco & DSSO




Musical Ireland: Irish Christmas in America

2019 JANUARY 15



101 Years of Broadway

Bria Skonberg





Boston Brass

Van Cliburn Medalist & DSSO

Justin Flom



50 Years of Dixie Spirit Ernie Doose broke down on the steps of the Graff Fine Arts Building;

he was shy, friendless, didn’t get along with his roommate, and struggled in class. After two months of it, he called his mother from a payphone to tell her he was coming home, but she insisted he stay. He hung up in frustration, and by the time he reached the steps, the tears fell. “You look like you could use a friend,” Doose remembers someone saying. Before he knew it, he sat opposite a woman he’d never met at Larsen’s Frostop. Roene DiFiore was her name, but she was “Mrs. D” or “Mama D” to her students. She had a plan. She explained that for a woman of her size, campus errands were cumbersome, so she asked Doose to be “her legs.” He accepted. It wasn’t long before he would join Program Bureau, her performing group that sang the songs of Dixie and popular tunes of the day. It was a game changer. “All of a sudden, everybody was my friend,” Doose says. “I felt like the most popular kid on campus! Suddenly I was getting As in my classes. She took me under her wing and changed my life forever.” Doose’s story is just one of thousands from students inspired by DiFiore in her 20 years at Dixie. During Homecoming 2017, her students returned to campus once again to sing “The Dixie Medley” and “Just For Now” — Mrs. D standards — among other favorites. It was 27 years since DiFiore’s passing, as old friends joined hands in song to celebrate Program Bureau’s 50th anniversary.

Roene’s Kids The ’60s brought about radical changes and Dixie Junior College President Ferron C. Losee responded by hiring DiFiore, a Dixie alumna, to come back to Dixie and establish a performing group to unify Dixie’s students. In 1967, she formed the “Dixie Dozen,” but word soon spread, and the next quarter, it became a class of roughly 40 students. DiFiore’s warmth and charisma brought students in droves in the years that followed. They became the Program Bureau — unofficially, “Roene’s Kids.”

e, ’72 s o o D Ernie eorge, UT St. G 20• Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

Story by Joel Griffin | Photography & Design by Bryce Parker & Scott Garrett ‘15


“Everyone was welcome,” Doose says. “She brought the student body officers and cool kids together with the nerds, the rejects, and the down-and-out kids. That’s what it was all about.” Students came as they were — no costumes, singing skills, sight-reading, or auditions required. If students had the commitment and enthusiasm, they were in. For years, they performed for local venues and schools and sang the whole way to Las Vegas and California on a drafty bus as they traveled to spread the Dixie Spirit. New students learned words and actions from the veterans through “osmosis,” as DiFiore called it, and the program flourished for many years. However, in May of 1990, as DiFiore was prepped for a heart valve replacement, doctors discovered her body was riddled with stomach cancer. She passed away just ten days later but spent her final moments with her “kids” in a removed wing of the hospital where they could sing their hearts out.

Tradition Reborn The Program Bureau dissolved shortly after DiFiore’s passing, but in 2008, when Stephen D. Nadauld became the institution’s president, he felt the Dixie Spirit could use a lift. He recruited Merrilee Webb from Salt Lake to direct a modern revival of the group: Raging Red. Webb connected with alumni and learned as much as she could about DiFiore, Program Bureau, and their songs. Although there are some differences, the spirit of camaraderie DiFiore established lives on, and at each Homecoming Assembly, Raging Red and Program Bureau together perform the same words and actions DiFiore taught a half-century ago.

M errilee W e St. George bb , UT

In addition to performing on a local and national level, Raging Red also carries the Dixie Spirit overseas in a recruiting effort. On a recent trip to China, 35 Raging Red students gathered in a hotel atrium for an impromptu performance of “The Dixie Medley” and “Just For Now.” From the first note to the last, hotel guests from the 13 floors above came out of their rooms to watch, listen, and enjoy. Webb says she and her students will never forget that. “The Dixie Spirit is alive and well,” Webb says. “These kids get it and are happy to let the world know that Dixie is the place to be.”

#IWentToDixie • www.dixie.edu • 21


“Program Bureau felt like the heart of Dixie College, and Mrs. D was like a mother to us. She encouraged my confidence and ability to sing solo.”

Ken Young , ’8 Rapid Cit 2 y, SD

“On the Welcome Week trip to Zion, Cindy Jorgensen stood up on the bus and started singing. Half the bus stood up and started to sing and move along with her. You would have thought it was a movie. I soon found out why they knew how to sing and move together when Mrs. D taught one of my classes, and I was hooked. I think Mrs. D would have tackled me if I tried to leave. She even brought a group from Program Bureau and sang at my wedding reception.”

Carl Jo h America nson, ’76 n Fork, UT

“I never sang until I came to Dixie, but within a week of watching my first Program Bureau practice, I was singing with the rest of them. I was a brand-new freshman, singing seven days a week, and soon after, performing in front of legislators, the governor, and TV cameras.”

4 n, ’7 e n i t i L La CA Geary ada Hills, Gran “Program Bureau was the center from which the Dixie Spirit emanated, and it was the glue that bound many of us together in those years during and after Dixie. Our time there was no run-of-the-mill junior college experience. This was a special time in a special place with a special group of people.”

r-Huey, ’71 Lou Chandle PA Valley Forge,

22 • Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

“I was lucky to find a place where a tone-deaf person like myself could sing to his heart’s content. Program Bureau was like therapy to me. If I was feeling down, it always picked up my spirits.”

Kelly Parke r, ’8 St George 1 , UT , ’72

ounds R w o l r Ba Andrea andy, UT S

“I’ll never forget showing up to rehearse without having slept much that week. Roene made me lie down on the floor and take a nap because she said I looked awful! I also remember our Vernal trip just before Ernie Doose went off to do shows on Broadway. We all thought it was the last time we would be together. It was touching to see not only the girls, but the guys with tears in their eyes. Little did we know many of us would sing together again and again for years to come. All of us who shared the love of the college and who loved and were loved by Roene were blessed with amazing friendships and memories.”

“Program Bureau has had a lifelong effect on my family; we still return almost every year for Homecoming and D-Day. Mrs. D brought together all her students to create a huge family. Through Program Bureau, we formed a strong bond and love for Dixie that still connects us.”

ll, ’71 e B r axte T Faye B s Cross, U Wood


e Bas tian Logan, Moore, ’7 6 UT

“We often sang a very jazzed-up version of the LDS hymn “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today.” When, about halfway into a program for LDS President Spencer W. Kimball, Roene began to play the introduction to that version of the hymn, I was dying inside. I just knew we were toast. However, when we finished that high-energy version of the hymn, President Kimball, in his croaky, beloved voice, simply said, ‘Could you please sing that one again?’ We did.”

#IWentToDixie • www.dixie.edu • 23


“Mrs. D always had a way of making us feel important and loved.”

Donna P eter St. Geo son, ’71 rge, UT “Program Bureau was a refuge for so many of us. No matter what was happening in our lives or where we came from, we found acceptance as soon as we walked through the door. We all so loved Mrs. D just as she loved us; some of us needed that so badly.”


, ’7 strom m l a kson M l, UT c a J l o Car Bountifu

“When we were having financial problems and needed to pay hospital bills, I wondered how I could do it. I turned to Roene’s teachings, started my own singing group in St. George called Sunkissed Kids, and taught all of the Dixie songs to those kids. It gave us a way to pay those medical bills. Then when I received my degree, I wanted to do it again, so I started one at my school, and have been doing it ever since. Program Bureau gave me the the confidence I needed to do what I love.”

M arilyn Paice, ’72 Spanish Fork, UT

“Some of the lyrics we used to sing still ring in my memory. Program Bureau and Mrs. D helped me find a place in this life. Music brought me my work, my wife, and the most joyous moments we have experienced together as a couple and family. Mrs. D told us all to keep some red sand in our shoes, which I still do to this day.”

5 stead, ’7 k c e B n Steve an, UT d r o J t s We

24• Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

MASTER’S DEGREES AVAILABLE: M.Ed. in Special Education M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership M.Ed. in School Counseling

Clinical Mental Health Counselor Master of Social Work Master of Physician Assistant Studies

stgeorge.utah.edu 1071 East 100 South, Suite A100 St. George, Utah 84770

#activelearningactivelife • www.dixie.edu • 25 435-879-4760


Dusk & Dawn Since graduating last fall, Chase Parker has enjoyed perfecting his craft as a full-time photographer in the open air of southern Utah. Raised in Utah’s Dixie by an artistic family, he says it was only a matter of time before he gravitated to landscape photography as a means of expression. His work was most recently showcased at the Red Finch Gallery in Orem, Utah, and featured in the Exposure Photography Festival in Calgary, Alberta. Parker captured the following photos for a lenticular print series — sometimes referred to as “holograms” — fusing together stunning night and day shots from the exact same vantage point. “I want my audience to have an experience, and I like that they have to physically interact with the photo,” Parker says. “There’s no way to show that effect unless you see it in person, but seeing the photos separately still portrays the contrasting beauty, which is the payoff you get when you spend time outdoors or return to some of your favorite spots again and again.”

26 • Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

Photography by Chase Parker, ‘17

LONE ROCK — “I had the concept for these shots after visiting Lake Powell a couple weeks prior and knew I needed clouds to pull off what I wanted. The morning before the first photo, I was in Bryce canyon, but the clouds were too perfect, so I raced back to Lake Powell, hoping I would have enough time before the light was gone. I made it with some decent time to scout out a location and couldn’t have been happier with the clouds. After my first shot, I left my tripod on the beach overnight and went back to sleep in my car. I hiked back in the dark at 4 a.m. and waited for the right shot to come around.”

#ActiveLearningActiveLife • www.dixie.edu • 27

THE TEMPLES OF THE SUN AND MOON — “After my first visit to the temples in Capitol Reef, I knew I wanted to capture them in relation to their namesakes — one lit by the sun, the other by moonlight. I made it there with little time to spare before sunset, and once the first shot was taken, I couldn’t move the tripod for the next 16 hours so my shots would align perfectly. Other than a few catnaps and a little exploration, I spent the night next to my tripod, keeping my gear huddled in for warmth so it would still function. I had to revive my battery several times with my hands and the warmth of my breath just enough to get off a shot before it would freeze again. I hadn’t witnessed a sunrise here before, and to my surprise, the sunrise illuminates the entire Temple of the Sun before it strikes the Temple of the Moon. Sometimes things just work out.”

28 • Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018


“Nature presents a great paradox. Its expansive beauty and imposing grandeur can create a sense of insignificance. Yet, when you experience nature, it sometimes feels as if the elements have conspired to give you a special moment of exquisite beauty. Light has traveled millions of miles to dance with a landscape that took thousands of years to form, but it takes you as the individual to give it meaning.”

OBSERVATION POINT — “I’ve seen Observation Point in just about every condition. I’ve hiked it through the ice and snow, in rain, and summer sun. I’ve seen it at sunrise, midday, sunset, and through the night. Shooting it at sunset produced a familiar image with all the amazing colors of Zion, but the night shot shows it in a way most people don’t experience. I wanted to catch it under sunlight shining in one direction contrasted by the moonlight from the opposite direction. Zion feels very much like home to me, so it was an obvious inclusion to the series.”

#ActiveLearningActiveLife • www.dixie.edu • 29

Beli eve in Pfate H ead Coach Pfaten hau er conti n u es Trai lblazer Baseball’s Wi n n i ng Tradition

Story by Steve Johnson | Design by Tori Lewis Photography by Bryce Parker

30• Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018


“We care more about what’s goi ng on i n th ei r lives than we do about what th ey do for th e program; that’s h elped me, an d I th i n k th e players respon d di fferently to what we are tryi ng to do because th ey know we care.”

The world of sports is full of slogans and mantras — “Take it one game at a time,” “Refuse to lose,” “Trust the process,” and so on — but since the fall of 2012, the Dixie State Baseball program has followed a unique mantra of its own — “Believe in Pfate.” When Head Coach Chris Pfatenhauer first arrived on campus, he knew he had inherited one of the most respected programs in the Western United States. Since then, he has put his own stamp on an already strong foundation, building a Trailblazer program that has become not only a perennial Pacific West Conference powerhouse, but also an annual fixture in the regional and national rankings.

“Havi ng th e right players an d coach es can dictate a lot of th e wi ns an d losses on th e fi eld, but what happens off th e fi eld can also get you wi ns.”

Often unnoticed at Bruce Hurst Field is the pregame routine. From batting practice and field preparation to the national anthem and the game itself, Pfatenhauer has established a winning culture. Every last detail of team performance at practice, on the field, in the classroom, and even in the dugout is all part of a finely tuned system. And judging by their success, investing in “Pfate” has paid immediate dividends. “Having the right players and coaches can dictate a lot of the wins and losses on the field, but what happens off the field can also get you wins,” Pfatenhauer says. “We are a clean-shaven operation, we shine our shoes, we talk a lot about family. All those things culminate into what the identity and culture of our program is.” Pfatenhauer and his coaching staff pride themselves in being positive mentors. He’s quick to point out the number of players who have graduated during his tenure and how they have stayed close to the program as proof of the culture’s direct impact on Trailblazer Baseball’s continued success. “I think in terms of understanding our players as individuals,” Pfatenhauer says. “We care more about what’s going on in their lives than we do about what #BlazeForward • www.dixie.edu • 31

TRAILBLAZER BASEBALL they do for the program; that’s helped me, and I think the players respond differently to what we are trying to do because they know we care.” Pfatenhauer has led Dixie State to consecutive PacWest titles in 2014 and 2015 and five consecutive trips (six overall) to the NCAA West Regionals, including the title game last season. Dixie State owns a .688 winning percentage (179-81-1) in the Pfatenhauer era, which includes a program-record 40 victories in 2016 and 39 more victories in 2017. Despite all the success the Trailblazers have enjoyed between the white lines in the past five seasons, Pfatenhauer will be the first to say it pales in comparison to the success stories told by his players after they hang up their spikes and gloves for the final time.

"It’s not j ust about th e wi ns th emselves, but that cu ltu re of wi n n i ng an d fami ly envi ronment we have, wh ich has h elped a lot of ou r guys carry th rough i n getti ng jobs, starti ng busi n esses, an d bei ng successfu l once th ey’ve left."

32 • Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

He stays connected with his former players and enjoys receiving their calls, emails, and text messages, often thanking him and the coaching staff for the lessons they have instilled on the baseball diamond and in the dugout. “I’ve gotten several messages from players saying they’ve used one of the quotes, sayings, or something our program has stood for in their job interviews,” Pfatenhauer says. It’s those stories he finds most rewarding. “Recruiting not just players, but the right players has been paramount in our team’s success,” Pfatenhauer says. “It’s not just about the wins themselves, but that culture of winning and family environment we have, which has helped a lot of our guys carry through in getting jobs, starting businesses, and being successful once they’ve left.”



#activelearningactivelife • www.dixie.edu • 33


Dedicated to Dixie Remembering Kalynn Larson

Story by Hanna Pollock

Design by Kimberly Hammons, ’17

Remembered for her dedication to Dixie alumni, providing scholarships, and keeping Dixie State traditions alive, Kalynn Larson, who passed away on Oct. 29, 2017, after a battle with ovarian cancer, left a lasting impact on the campus and surrounding community. Throughout her decades of service, Kalynn wore many hats in her role as alumni director. Her commitment to DSU improved the alumni department, helped thousands of students receive scholarships, and deepened alumni’s connection to their red sand roots. “Being the alumni director wasn’t a job to Kalynn,” says John Bowler, the new director of alumni relations. “It was a way of life for her. She loved connecting with alumni and making the association better.”

Spreading the Dixie Spirit was a high priority to Kalynn, and she did it through creating and strengthening traditions such as the Fire & Ice Gala, Celebrity Golf Classic, alumni chapter events, and tailgates. “Kalynn was the cornerstone of the alumni program,” Bowler says. “At times I’m sure she worked around 80 hours a week to make everything happen.” Attending Dixie events was often a family affair for the Larsons. Children and grandchildren were often by Kalynn’s side when she was managing events.

34• Dixie State University Magazine • Spring 2018

Carl & Kalynn Larson

“Our family knew Kalynn was very committed to the alumni and Dixie, so we would attend her events to support and spend more time with her,” says Carl Larson, Kalynn’s husband. “We helped with Dixie events for probably 10 years.” Wendi Bulkley, associate athletic director and alumni board member, worked closely with Kalynn and can’t remember a time Kalynn didn’t start Alumni Board meetings without standing and singing the school song. “She took great pride in the traditions, the ‘D’ on the hill, and all things Dixie,” Bulkley said. “Our Student Alumni Association has been

going strong for over a decade now, thanks to her hard work, example, and perseverance.” Kalynn’s example of service and love will not be forgotten by the many students, alumni, and community members who were affected by her. “Kalynn’s commitment to creating longlasting relationships with our alumni community and donors was remarkable,” President Richard B. Willams says. “She will be missed here at Dixie State, and our thoughts are with her family and the many people who grew to love her throughout her years of service.”

“Our thoughts are with her family and the many people who grew to love her throughout her years of service.”

#IWentToDixie • www.dixie.edu • 35


Dear Alumni & Friends, Looking back on my days as a student at Dixie Junior College, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. There were just around 2,000 of us when I first came to campus, but today, DSU is the fastest growing institution in the state with nearly 10,000 students. Campus itself is growing, with construction on a stateof-the-art Human Performance Center and east grandstand in the stadium underway. Most recently, DSU added its first master’s degree, with more expected to come. It’s an exciting time to be involved with the University as it expands and offers more opportunities than ever. As the Alumni Association, we embrace the forward momentum while also remembering our humble beginnings and rich tradition. In that spirit, we invite you to join us on campus this coming D-Week, April 9 –14, to see how far we’ve come, connect with us, and reflect on your time as a student at Dixie. In addition to events like the Great Race, and whitewashing the “D” on the hill, we hope you’ll join us for our Evening of Dixie, at 7 p.m. on April 14, when we will honor remarkable alumni and community members for their Dixie Spirit, community service, and influence. We look forward to awarding the following Dixie supporters this year:

Mrs. D Award — June Stewart Jeffery

Rebel Award — Clark McMullin

Spirit Award — Diane Hafen

Community Award — Penny Barben

I hope as you think on your days at Dixie, you’re filled with happy memories, as I am. I also invite you to remember the individuals who supported you along your way and the opportunities Dixie provided. There are many ways you can have a similar impact on the students of DSU today by giving back. Cheering from the stands at a sporting event, volunteering for a campus service project, donating to a scholarship, or making a planned gift — any contribution, big or small, is one that makes a difference and keeps the Dixie Spirit alive for years to come as we continue to grow. Join us as we blaze new trails ahead. A Rebel forever and a Trailblazer too, Russ Feller DSU Alumni Association President


alumni.dixie.edu 36 • DixieVisit State University Magazine • Spring to 2018connect with the DSU Alumni Association and view a full schedule of university and alumni events.

#activelearningactivelife • www.dixie.edu • 37

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Profile for Dixie State University

DSU Magazine Spring 2018  

The Spring 2018 issue of the official magazine of Dixie State University — This issue's main feature celebrates the 50th anniversary of the...

DSU Magazine Spring 2018  

The Spring 2018 issue of the official magazine of Dixie State University — This issue's main feature celebrates the 50th anniversary of the...


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