Where the University stands

0 comments, Monday, February 9th, 2009, by David Hatchett and Jennie Nich, in News

by David Hatchett

Eight months after officially becoming a University, UVU Interim President Elizabeth Hitch discussed the school’s budget, programs, goals, building additions, awards and the general wellbeing of UVU to a nearly full audience at the Ragan Theater.

The big topic of the speech was budget reductions. President Hitch covered what was already done in the September 2008 reduction and what will be done to cover the impending 2009 reduction.

It was explained that the reduction of the base budget will be $4,763,400 but will only affect on $2,381,700 because of a backfill. The plan to balance the budget includes putting a freeze on hiring or heavily restricting it, increase tuition for 2009-2010, reduce services, restrict enrollment to a first-come first-serve basis, and reduce salary, wages and benefits.

Hitch pointed out that UVU does not want to be like the other universities in Utah and its goal is to become the best engaged-focused University “in the universe.”

“We really have got off on a great start,” said Hitch.

Hitch’s message throughout the State of the University address was aided through Power Point to visually show UVU’s progress in the past year and had some humorous moments like an animation of Hitch leading a rowboat of UVU officials to show that UVU has a clear vision on were it is going.

“I liked the visuals used and some of the humor,” said Justin Shields, a UVU student.

Growth of the university was also talked about in terms of enrollment, diversity, additional buildings, and better and new programs. In the fall, there were 2,800 new enrolled students and an increase in minority populations as well with African Americans increased by 32 percent and Hispanics increased by 25 percent.

Several projects are also underway or will be in the near future. A current project is the new Student Success Center, which is the remodeled building of the Losee Learning Center. There is also a new 13,000 square feet alumni house which adds three more acres to UVU. Under construction is the Noorda Children’s Theater, which was donated by Tye Noorda.

It is hoped by next year the Hal Wing Track and Field will be completed upon approval from the Legislature. There are also plans for an intramural playing field by the AB building, a business resource center, an intermodal (Transit) Center and a University Parkway underpass.

Hitch also mentioned that two new master’s degrees will be added in nursing and business administration. It is also anticipated that the Master’s of Education program will have 30 to 50 more cohorts in 2009.

Other highlights include UVU Athletics being accepted into the Great West Conference with hopes to be a Division-1 school by May 2009. UVU was also one of the 110 schools to receive the Carnegie Community Engagement Award.

Faculty members were also celebrated at the address with eight faculty members receiving PACE awards. They were Margaret Bellon, Ellen Draper, Denise Fullmer, Thomas Hopkins, Marc Jerome, Alexis Palmer, Peggy Pasin and Kyle Reyes.

To view more highlights from the State of the University address, visit www.uvu.edu/president/remarks/speeches/index.html

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Q and A session

by Jennie Nicholls

Elizabeth Hitch faced some hard questions from an attentive and curious audience Feb. 10 during the question and answer period following the annual state of the university address.

Hitch began by answering one she said she receives multiple times a day on how the presidential search is going. She spoke of the application process and noted that she would be returning to the position of vice president of academic affairs after the new president is appointed.

Sam Rushforth, dean of life sciences, asked for clarification about the process, asking if the president will be chosen within a 24 hour period of the candidate’s visit to campus, as rumored. Rushforth also asked if input from faculty would be accepted. Hitch said, “They [the committee] have opportunities for input during the day on all the candidates that are here, they take that into account and then they meet late into the evening to decide what they want to do. I believe that would be a typical process.”

With impending budget cuts imminent in the upcoming months, many questions surrounded the effects of the cuts. Linda Makin, executive director of budgets was quick to talk about seed money. On July 1, 2007, the school created a self-insurance reserve that now “exceeds what the auditors want us to have.” Makin said.

Students are not exempt from being concerned about the budget cuts, Jack Waters, Editor-in-Chief of the UVU Review, asked Hitch about spending on country club memberships that the school renewed this year, as opposed to faculty and staff cuts. Hitch answered, “We have looked at just about everything.The one thing about monies like those, Jack, is that those are one-time monies and the cut to our budget is a base cut. So you really must look at personnel.and since about 85 percent.are personnel, we have to look to personnel pretty quickly.”

Hitch joked about the amount of money the school spends on food, noting that in Wisconsin food cannot be purchased with state money. She laughed students and faculty getting thinner due to not being fed as often because of the cuts.

Kim Strunk, the department chair of dance, asked about the performing arts center and its status in the development plans for the campus. The new science building is the priority building for new campus projects and the performing arts center is second. Val Peterson, vice president for administration and legislative affairs said, “It [proposed science building] is clearly the number one facility by need within the system, desperately needed on this campus.”

After the lineman and apprentice programs were transferred to MATC this past year, an audience member questioned the president about the faculty members that were fired when the programs moved and wondered why they hadn’t also been transferred. Hitch responded, “We’re separate entities, we’re governed by different boards and so we don’t have a transferability between our institutions for personnel.”

For full coverage of the question and answer session, visit www.uvu.edu/broadcast

About David Hatchett and Jennie Nich

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