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University of Utah and SLCC tie the knot on a new joint campus in Herriman

Salt Lake Community College President Deneece Huftalin holds the end of a red ribbon and University of Utah President Taylor Randall holds the end of a blue ribbon inside the new Juniper Building in Herriman on Aug. 7, 2023. The two school leaders move to attach their ribbons together for a “ribbon joining ceremony.”
Martha Harris
/
KUER
Salt Lake Community College President Deneece Huftalin holds the end of a red ribbon and University of Utah President Taylor Randall holds the end of a blue ribbon inside the new Juniper Building in Herriman on Aug. 7, 2023. The two school leaders move to attach their ribbons together for a “ribbon joining ceremony.”

To celebrate the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College coming together on a new shared campus in Herriman, leaders from both schools decided against the traditional ribbon cutting. Instead, they went with a “ribbon joining.”

Inside the Juniper Building, the first completed structure on the Herriman Campus, SLCC President Deneece Huftalin held the end of a red ribbon and attached it to a blue ribbon held by U of U President Taylor Randall.

When Huftalin told her son she was going to a ribbon joining ceremony, he wondered how people would get into the building if they were not cutting the ribbon.

“The symbolism was obviously lost on him,” Huftalin quipped.

The project has been over a decade in the making and Huftalin said it’s the first time two Utah higher education institutions have come together to open a campus. Right now, it’s only one building, but they’re planning to add more.

When classes start at the Herriman Campus on Aug. 22, there will be about 2,000 students in the first year with the hope to grow that number to 7,000 by 2025.

A sculpture of the Salt Lake Community College logo next to the University of Utah’s logo outside of the two college’s new Herriman Campus on Aug. 7, 2023.
Martha Harris
/
KUER
A sculpture of the Salt Lake Community College logo next to the University of Utah’s logo outside of the two college’s new Herriman Campus on Aug. 7, 2023.

The goal, Huftalin said, is to increase access to higher education, both financially and geographically. Students can get their associate’s degree from SLCC and their bachelor’s degree from the U in the same place. They chose Herriman because the area has a “higher-than-average high school graduation rate, but a lower-than-average college-going rate.”

Huftalin said it will be a more affordable option for students in the area because SLCC’s tuition is cheaper than the U’s. Plus, students will not have to commute nearly 30 miles north to the U’s main Salt Lake City campus.

Atziri Citlali Regalado-Juárez is excited about this campus because she said she knows how hard it can be to transfer from a community college to a 4-year university. After graduating from SLCC, she felt prepared to transfer to the U. SLCC’s advisors helped her figure out what classes to take, and she already knew that she wanted to major in psychology.

“Once I entered the U, that was a whole different ballpark. The cultural shock was real. I was like, ‘This is not a community college. These people are actually my age.’”

In some ways, Regalado-Juárez said she was treated like a freshman at the university since she was new to the campus. Since she was a junior credit-wise, she felt there were things she was expected to know, but didn’t. Regalado-Juárez said she was told she should already be involved in research, but she didn’t know any professors.

“I think community-wise and just program-wise, I feel like we need to do a better job at letting our students know what they're getting into,” Regalado-Juárez said.

Mascots for Herriman City (Herriman Yeti), Salt Lake Community College (Brutus) and the University of Utah (Swoop) stand next to each other during the “ribbon joining ceremony” in Herriman on Aug. 7, 2023.
Martha Harris
/
KUER
Mascots for Herriman City (Herriman Yeti), Salt Lake Community College (Brutus) and the University of Utah (Swoop) stand next to each other during the “ribbon joining ceremony” in Herriman on Aug. 7, 2023.

She got comfortable at one school and then had to adapt to a new environment while still focusing on her studies. She felt like the time it took to adjust to the University of Utah’s main campus slowed her college career. After carrying a heavy class load in her first semester, she said she took a break and will return to school in the fall.

Regalado-Juárez thinks that the students who will benefit the most from having a campus like this are those who are working or have families. She said they can continue to work and support their family while getting a degree.

“Having a building closer to home gives them that second chance,” Regalado-Juárez said.

Martha is KUER’s education reporter.
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