In further commemoration of the National Park Service Centennial, SUU enthusiastically welcomes Dayton Duncan, award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker, to highlight his work in capturing America’s history and natural wonders on camera. As a Visiting Eccles Scholar, and in the second convocation of the 2016-17 school year, Duncan specifically will discuss his collaboration with Ken Burns on the Emmy-winning documentary series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. The event, sponsored by SUU Convocations and in partnership with the Outdoor Education Series, will take place on Thursday, September 29 at 11:30 a.m. in the Gilbert Great Hall.
In addition to writing 12 books and numerous news articles, Duncan has successfully written, produced, and consulted on multiple documentary films in collaboration with fellow storyteller Ken Burns, including The Dust Bowl, Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, and The West. He served on the advisory committee for the National Park Service Centennial and has been on the boards of the National Park Foundation, the Student Conservation Association, and the National Conservation Lands Foundation. In 2009, the National Park Service director awarded Duncan the distinction of Honorary Park Ranger, an honor which, according to Duncan’s biographical sketch, has been “bestowed on fewer than 50 people in history.”
“We are excited to have Dayton Duncan return to SUU,” said Anne Smith, SUU’s Semester in the Parks program director. “SUU’s rising emphasis in outdoor engagement – from last year’s Outdoor Nation college competition to this year’s Day in the Parks – helps our entire campus community develop a greater appreciation for and connection with our National Park neighbors. Duncan’s vast experience with the parks will inspire each of us to become better informed and more adventurous.”
Visiting Eccles Scholars are supported by a generous grant from the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation. As an Eccles Scholar, Duncan will interact with students during a special Q&A session after the convocation, followed by a public presentation in the evening at Bryce Canyon National Park and a class the very next morning in the park.
SUU rests within a five-hour drive of nearly 20 national parks, monuments, and recreation areas, making its trademark designation – “University of the Parks” – a “perfect fit,” according to President Scott L. Wyatt. Recent efforts involving SUU’s Outdoor Education Series have significantly enhanced the university’s relationship to its natural surroundings. Just last month, in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial on August 25, SUU suspended classes for the day and sponsored 100 free outdoor excursions to various state and national parks as well as recreation areas located on and off campus, placing students and faculty in direct contact with the natural beauty so close to home. Earlier this year, SUU made history as it offered students the opportunity to spend an entire semester in Bryce Canyon National Park, officially kicking off the school’s innovative Semester in the Parks program. In 2015, SUU received national recognition for its strong outdoor engagement by winning the Outdoor Nation On-Campus Challenge, claiming the titles of 2015-2016 National Outdoor Champions and Most Outdoorsy School.
As with all of SUU’s convocations, this commemorative event is free and open to the general public.
Learn more about Southern Utah University.
Nikki Koontz, Assistant Director of Marketing