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Gayle Pollock at SUU.

Gayle Pollock Receives Honorary Doctorate at SUU

At Southern Utah University’s 125th Commencement Program on April 25, attendees gathered to honor this year’s graduates. Among them was Gayle Pollock of Tropic, Utah, who received an honorary Doctorate of Public Service for his extensive and valuable service to the university and students of rural Utah.

Born into humble circumstances, Pollock attributes his success to the fact that he just keeps showing up. 

“If I can do this, these students can,” he humbly explained. “When it came time for me to register for fall quarter, our family only had one car. My dad needed it to get to work, so I hitched a ride to campus.”

That modest beginning led to an awareness and sensitivity to the needs of students who followed. It spawned a desire to help students get an education and use it here where they grew up in Southern Utah. “I love this area, our people, and our kids. I want them to be able to live here and provide for their families,” said Pollock.

And that’s just what he has done. With a bachelor’s degree from SUU’s predecessor, Southern Utah State College, in geology in 1988, he first served an internship in Colorado for eight years, then in 1995 he returned as president and CEO of the Bryce Canyon Association. The association promotes education programs and research projects. 

The graduation program said that Pollock’s focus has always been accessibility “through internship, undergraduate research opportunities, and scholarship funding.”

In 2005, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman appointed Pollock to the SUU Board of Trustees. In addition to creating three endowed scholarships, Pollock’s access to resources and ability to raise money provided funding for the new Geoscience building. He also started an alliance in 2006 that formally made Bryce Canyon an eastern campus of SUU, smoothing out details and extra steps they’d previously been dealing with. Other parks and universities later followed their model, the first initiative of its kind.

Another of Gayle Pollock’s favorite programs he started is the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC) which places 200 students in programs every summer to learn about land management while earning $17 an hour. Other universities are now funneling their students through this program as well.

When Pollock graduated from SUSC in 1988, he felt an immense responsibility to give back and somehow repay what he had received from professors who had spent their entire careers building the program. 

Years later, one professor would regularly call Pollock at Bryce Canyon. “I’m working on a geology situation and would like to come talk to you about it,” he would say. He continued to visit through his nineties until he passed away.

In his closing remarks at the commencement program, Pollock explained to the students in the audience, “You have received more than an education here. You now have a relationship with your educators, the professors who may become mentors and colleagues. You don’t find that at other universities.”

Who knows what those students will do with the education they received. Perhaps they, like Gayle Pollock, will repay and give back, continuing the legacy for decades to come.

The Byway

Read more Gayle Pollock news in New Stake Presidency Called in the Escalante Stake.