As the old cliché goes, you don’t know a man until you walk a day in his shoes. Yet at the end of the day, those shoes can be taken off, allowing the temporary wearer to sleep soundly knowing they were lucky enough to know a man and also lucky enough to not have to wear those shoes the next day. After learning more about the day-to-day demands placed on Matt Holland, president of UVU, it’s very easy to feel lucky his shoes aren’t the right size for anyone but him .
Since becoming president of UVU, Holland clearly is a lot busier than when he lived a “solitary existence” —as he describes it — as a professor at BYU. As a president of a university, he lives a much more involved life.
Despite having a more rigid and demanding schedule, Holland holds a great desire to stay connected with this university and the students who attend it. Traditionally in a university of this size, with its nearly 29,000 students, a president does not interact with the students, especially after considering the numerous responsibilities of which a president must take charge.
Between the host of tasks Holland spends hours doing for the university — fundraising, working with government to get better funding, speaking at different venues, responding to an email from a concerned student, meeting with numerous people to discuss a myriad of issues — he is constantly busy.
“President Holland does all of it … it’s remarkable to watch,” said Kyle Reyes, assistant to the president.
When examining a day in the life of President Holland, it’s impossible neglect mentioning the people in his day that are the most significant to him, his family. “My family is the thing that is most important to me … My wife was with me since the beginning, and the kids have been remarkably supportive,” he said.
With the obvious challenges arising from trying to balance a family life and holding the most prominent position at a rapidly-growing university, one might ask: How does Holland do it?
“Part of it is you just keep going and do your best. But the key thing for me in striking balance is my marriage to Paige; she’s my best friend and best councilor, and she’s wonderfully supportive of my role here at the university,” Holland said.
Though free time doesn’t seem to be plentiful for Holland, when he does have some he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids. He also enjoys athletics, basketball, tennis, mountain biking and he enjoys reading.
“For me, reading is a great form of relaxation and rejuvenation; I love to read. If I can get a spare minute with a great book, that’s a real delight,” Holland said.
It is difficult to paint a picture of what the average day looks like for Holland, simply because, “he doesn’t really have a ‘typical’ day,” according to Karen Olsen, Holland’s executive secretary.
While his day could rarely be described as typical or average, his daily concerns and objectives remain the same — the university and maintaining access and a quality education to the students it serves.
“One issue and concern is that we continue to maintain our mission of access to higher education, and that we be a place of opportunity for students of all different levels. We want to be inclusive, but serious. I hope to build on the great work that has gone before. This is an extraordinary institution,” Holland said.
As you slip off your shoes tonight to climb into bed and dream of sleeping in and parties over the weekend, pause for a moment, and be glad that those shoes — the shoes of a student — are so well protected and cared for by a man who humbly fills the shoes that belong to the office of President Matt Holland.