Higher Education Action Team
Strategic Planning for Higher Education in Moab and Grand County
A number of movements have occurred in Moab within the past year that have led to the
realization that while higher education is highly valued within the community, there is no concrete
plan in place to identify what higher education should look like, where it should be located, or how
it should be pursued. The result of this ambiguity led to the organization of a community group,
The Heat (Higher Education Action Team), that has taken on the task of developing a strategic plan
for the promotion of higher education in Moab and Grand County.
After informal meetings among a number of individuals, it was determined to establish a
larger informal HEAT group that would be open to the public and meet monthly to establish
direction, delineate goals, and make assignments that might be taken on by a smaller task force
(made up of volunteers from the larger group). Both the large HEAT group, and the smaller HEAT
taskforce have had broad community representation including: city and county government, higher
education, school district, school board, business community, State Trust Lands, and local citizens.
The initial HEAT group meeting was in mid-April, followed by a second meeting in late May. The
smaller HEAT taskforce has met three additional times in between the larger group meetings to
carry out specific assignments.
In creating a strategic plan for higher education in Moab, the general goals of the HEAT
group were four-fold:
1. Conduct a three part Community Needs Assessment
a) Community profile: demographics, education, economy, and trends
b) Local workforce training needs
c) Opportunities for attracting students to a destination campus
2. Determine a location for higher education programs
3. Create a conceptual plan for facilities at identified locations
4. Create a plan for resource acquisition
Needs Assessment Summary
After the first general HEAT meeting, the smaller HEAT taskforce accepted the assignment of
designing and conducting a Community Needs Assessment. The following information summarizes
the results of the Community Needs Assessment and related planning activities.
A) Community Profile
The first step was the development of a community profile based on information already
available in the community, at various websites, or other public sources. The following represents
a brief summary of the Moab and Grand County profile:
a) Wages in 2006
UT State average $2,883 per month, $34,596 per year
Grand County average $2,042 per month, $24,504 per year
Grand 2006 monthly wages by industry Grand 2006 labor force by industry
Mining $4,044 Leisure/Hospitality 32.8%
Government $2,824 Government 19.0%
Education/Health/Social Service $2,532 Trade/Trans. & Utilities 18.4%
Construction $2,461 Construction 7.3%
Information $2,333 Education/Health/Social Service 6.9%
Professional & Business Services $2,307 Financial Services 4.9%
Financial Services $2,069 Professional & Business Services 4.8%
Trade, Trans. & Utilities $2,062 Mining 2.5%
Manufacturing $2,006 Other Services 1.5%
Other Services $1,754 Manufacturing 1.0%
Leisure & Hospitality $1,194 Information 0.7%
b) Seasonality of jobs # of jobs jobless rate
July 2007 5,570 3.3%
January 2008 4,113 11%
c) Household Income 2007 estimate 2012 forecast
$0-$24,999 31.6 29.0
$25,000-$74,999 50.5 49.2
$75,000+ 17.9 21.8
Sources: DWS Grand County Facts; Grand County Demographic and Economic Profile, by
Michael Hanni, DWS Regional Economist; Economic Development Corporation of Utah
County Population: 8,999
Population Growth 2000-2006: 7% (Utah growth: 14%)
2007 estimate 2012 forecast
Caucasian 85.9 85.3
Hispanic Population 7.0 8.0
American Indian 3.8 3.6
Other Races 3.3 3.1
(NOTE: STAFF AT THE MULTI-CULTURAL CENTER BELIEVES THE ACTUAL HISPANIC
POPULATION IS SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER. THEY ESTIMATE 11%.)
Utah US Grand
Percentage who hold a bachelor’s degree (2000): 26.1% 24.0% 22.9%
Trends Analysis for Higher Education Needs
A trend analysis was completed that identified high demand jobs and growth industries at
the national level (first two columns), and then identified possible ‘best-fit’ degree programs and
trade/technical programs that might be most suitable for offering in the unique setting offered by
Moab (second two columns).
High Demand Jobs Growth Industries Destination Degrees Trade/Tech
Health Care Content Creators Sustainability Health Care
Engineering Energy Related Jobs Environment & Education
Biochemistry Eco-Friendly Jobs Urban Planning Skilled Trades
Biophysics Leisure Industry Geology/Biology Culinary
Geology Leisure Industry Leisure Industry
Information Technology Natural Resources Criminal Justice
Hotel Management Outdoor Rec Mgmt Eco-Friendly
All Service Jobs
Chefs, Caterers, Food
B) Local Workforce Training Needs
In addition to the available data that was collected in the ‘Community Profile’ above; a
community survey was designed, pilot-tested, refined, and implemented by the HEAT Taskforce.
One hundred four surveys were collected from high school students, and 68 were collected from
community members. For the most part, intact convenience samples were utilized for
disseminating surveys and collecting data (high school classes, Rotary members, Chamber of
Commerce, Builders Association, HEAT members, government agencies, etc.). The result was broad
representation from current high school students (approximately 25% of the study body completed
a survey), and the community (government agencies, business, philanthropy, etc.). Expected
employment growth, and the top three issues in our community, were as follows:
Represent Emp Emp Top Three Issues in our Community
Now 5 yrs (Their choice, 8 or more responses)
(*Related to Higher Education)
Full time 871 1127 Cost of Living 010
Part time 455 530 Diversify the local Economy* 008
Seasonal 441 586 Education / Lack of workforce readiness* 011
Fuel Prices 016
Total 1738 2178 Affordable Housing 037
SUMMARY Worker Shortage* 009
When asked what types of trade, technical, vocational or applied programs were needed to
support the current and future workforce in Moab, the following results were obtained:
High School Students (N = 104) Community (N = 68)
Trades (33) Health Care (31)
Culinary Arts (24) Culinary (30)
Health Care (24) Office Support (24)
Criminal Justice (22) Trades (22)
C) Opportunities for a Destination Campus
When asked what types of four-year and graduate degree programs would attract students
to a campus in Moab, the following results were obtained:
High School Students (N = 104) Community (N = 68)
Geology / Biology/ Sciences (22) Geology / Biology (36)
Art and Design (20) Natural Resources (39)
Hotel / Motel / Hospitality Mgmt (17) Outdoor Rec Mgmt (35)
Outdoor Rec Mgmt (13) Sustainability (26)
Needs Assessment Summary
In general there was significant overlap between the results of the community profile and
the community survey. In short (and not surprisingly to anyone who lives here), Moab might be
characterized as a tourism based community that is troubled by low-incomes, seasonal
employment, lack of affordable housing, and high jobless rates in the off-season which are
associated with tourism and the leisure/hospitality industry—the largest employer in Grand
County. Higher Education has a role in addressing these issues as Higher Education has been
shown to impact:
Individual quality of life: vision of life, pride,
self-identity, community orientation.
Economic development: need-specific
training, small business development,
economic stability, trained work force, etc.
Multiplier effect: dollars spent on higher ed
get re-spent in the community (1:2).
Greatest Asset: Our youth stay in, or return
to, our community.
In answering the question, “what types of post-secondary programs would best meet local
training needs, and attract students to a destination campus?” there was considerable consistency
between the national trends analysis and the local community survey. In terms of trade and
technical programs, the following were consistently mentioned: Health care, skilled trades, and
culinary arts. In relation to four-year and graduate degree programs that might attract students to
a destination campus, the following were consistently identified: Geology, biology, natural
resources, outdoor recreation management, and art and design.
What Should Higher Education in Moab Look Like?
As part of the community ‘educational profile’ it was determined that USU and CEU
currently offer the following distance education or on-site programs in Moab:
Bachelor Master Trade and Technical Programs
Accounting Education Medical Coding (limited)
Business English (Technical Writing) Construction Management
Computer Science Fam & Human Development Computer Literacy (limited)
Elementary Education Computer Science Certified Nursing (future)
Family Studies School Counseling Criminal Justice (Fall 2008)
Interdisciplinary Studies Vocational Rehabilitation
Psychology Special Education
Mgmt Info Systems
Based on the community needs assessment, there is an unmet need to expand health care
related offerings, skilled trade programs, and culinary arts programs at the trade/technical/applied
level. Arrangements have already been made to bring CEU’s criminal justice program to Moab
beginning in the fall of 2008.
At the four-year and graduate level there is an unmet need for on-site, faculty led programs
in natural resources, outdoor recreation management, geology/biology, eco-friendly trades (e.g.
environmental planning), environmental studies, and the leisure industry. Many of these degree
options can be grouped under the general umbrella of ‘natural resources.’
The expansion of a post-secondary and higher education presence in Moab should be
designed to address these identified program needs.
The next question is,
“Where should higher education be located in Moab?”
The HEAT Task Force met on June 13th to discuss and evaluate three options in relation to
the location of post-secondary programs: (a) stay in the current location at 125 W 200 S, (b) co-
locate all programs on School District property near the high school, (c) locate some programs near
the high school and some programs on USU/SITLA property south of town. Strengths and
weaknesses of each option were considered and a general consensus was reached:
(a) Stay at the Current Location (Expand to Surrounding Buildings)
We are here presently in the complex and one building is owned by USU.
There are buildings around us that could potentially become part of a campus.
We could possibly build up to a couple of stories on some buildings if needed?
We could build equity in the current space and sell / lease space when we move to another
Our various potential partners would not be able to locate on the current site.
The site has limited space.
We would be land locked.
The space is less attractive than a new campus and may not attract new students.
Needs for higher education may lose momentum if we settle on the current location.
The present site could possibly be used as part of a phased growth plan, but the ultimate
goal would be to have new facilities to accommodate future needs and the needs of potential
partners by creating an attractive destination campus elsewhere.
(b) Have Facilities Located Next To and Around the Current High School Complex
• Close to town
• Next to the bike path, students could ride
• High school students could have ready
access to higher ed opportunities
• Shared shop space for trades / vocational
technical programs – youth during day and
adults at night
• Avoid duplication of having same
programs in two different sites
• CEU and GCHS would be able to
partnership on programs, thus saving
money and meeting community needs
• CEU, USU, and GCHS could all be co-
located around the school
• Limited space for the various partners.
• Land in and around the HS is either in the
flood plain, or store front property that
would be prohibitive to buy.
• Space would leave potential partners out
• When campus grows we would be
The best partnership at this location would be between CEU’s vocational and applied
programs and the high school. Together they could co-locate and avoid duplication. The master
plan for the HS vocational technical building includes the possibility for expansion that might
include new programs. Together they could leverage for State support for vocational technical and
applied science programs. The site could be used for both HS students and adults for certificate
programs and customized training.
(c) Locate Programs on USU / SITLA Property South of Town
• USU already has 20 acres of land south of Moab
• The land borders SITLA land so the size of the
campus could be increased. USU and SITLA could
work on various land swaps to increase the size
of a campus to meet the needs of all partners.
• USU could share facilities with other partners in
this location, including facilities for research and
• We would not be limited by size. There is
sufficient area to grow a campus and campus
• The area could accommodate a variety of
• CEU/USU/ and select high school programs
could be located on this campus
• This site gives the community growth potential.
Private investors could provide housing.
• Distance from town.
• Lack of bike/walking
As a group we do not want to limit the vision of a destination campus located in Moab. We
want to see a site that can grow to meet the needs of our community. This site could accommodate
the needs of all parties involved; have expansion opportunities for programs and offering from USU
/ CEU / High School / Government Agencies / Other Providers.
Where Should Higher Education in Moab be Located?
It was the general consensus of the HEAT taskforce that to the degree possible, the post-
secondary applied, technical, and trade programs needed in Moab (and offered by CEU) should be
located in the new vocational building adjacent to the high school. Once the recent bond election
passed, which included funding for a new vocational building, discussions between the Grand
County School District and CEU (and others) have been initiated to consider and act upon this
The HEAT taskforce was also in general agreement that a destination campus that might
include federal agency partners and other educational partners should be pursued on the
USU/SITLA property south of town. This site allows for expansion and growth that can
accommodate potential partners and that can attract students to Moab.
The next question is,
“How should we pursue the development of this type of campus?”