Active Learning, Active Life

Dixie State University

With the motto, “active learning, active life” Dixie State University (DSU) is providing opportunities to students in both academia and recreation through the new construction of the Human Performance Center (HPC).

When Richard “Biff” Williams, the president of DSU, began at the university five years ago, on his third day the state building board presented him with the concept of building the HPC on campus. Following the motto of “active learning, active life,” the goal was to provide active learning opportunities, not just through lecture, but through active living as well.

“[Students] out here mountain bike, hike, kayak, repel, cycle and all sorts of things, but they wanted a building where they can learn how to rock climb, where they would have aquatics opportunities, and where they would have experience to promote active learning,” said Williams. “Our focus is our students, helping them get prepared in a profession that will meet workforce shortages, and all the programs in this building are designed to do just that.”

These programs include physical therapy, athletic training, occupational therapy, population health, sports management, physical education and kinesiology.

“We’ve been very strategic and deliberate in adding these programs to meet that mission of serving the economy, decreasing the workforce shortage and making sure students are prepared to go out into their professions,” emphasized Williams. “We’re community oriented and we feel this building is going to help prepare students to work in those shortage areas.”

On the active learning side, within the building there are classrooms, but Williams described them more as active labs. “The athletic training lab, for example, contains treatment tables, and they have a class where students can take notes, but they can also learn further,” he said. “We’ll talk about it, demonstrate it, lecture, then have the kids jump on the table and actually do it, creating an active learning environment.”

On the active life side, students are not only learning how to be active themselves, but how to teach others to be active as well. “So how do you teach a Spin class, organize it, get your heart rate where it needs to be — we want it to be an instructional building where people are learning how to be active for the rest of their life,” said Williams.

Some of the special classes to be offered in the HPC will include bringing in a variety of demographics. It all works to help them gain teaching experience.

For the HPC to be built, it was a collaboration of student fees, legislature dollars, fundraising and more. “It’s really a community building where people saw this would meet a need, and I don’t think that happens just everywhere,” said Williams. “It’s been fun to see how everyone has chipped in to build this fantastic building.”

A Brief Look Inside the HPC:

  • 91 pieces of cardio equipment, including Precor treadmills and ellipticals, Technogym SKILLMILLS, and Cybex strength and selectorized equipment.
  • Functional training area with Escape Fitness sandbags, kettlebells, warrior ropes and more.
  • 65-foot climbing wall routed by Eldorado.
  • Fifty-meter Olympic-sized pool to seat 750, outfitted with Sporti kickboards, paddles and weights.
  • Mondo flooring in most fitness and walking areas.
  • Multi-activity court for a variety of sports.
  • Rooftop with two basketball courts, four pickleball courts and an outdoor track.
Brittany Howard
Brittany is an assistant editor at Peake Media. Reach her at

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