Past, present and future

0 comments, Monday, February 11th, 2013, by Mallory Black, in News
Reflecting on the past, challenged with the present and optimistic about the future, President Matthew Holland spoke to about 200 faculty, administration and students Feb. 6 during the State of the University address in the Ragan Theater.

Holland began his speech with appreciation of faculty and administration and their commitment to academics and to the success of their students. However, the address took on a more serious tone when Holland began to discuss the current and upcoming challenges Utah Valley University faces.

20130206_STATEOFTHEUNIVERSITY“There is right now a complex world of political, economic and institutional forces at work putting additional strain on our already strained campus,” Holland said. “Truly, apologies in advance if this gets a bit laborious.”

Holland immediately addressed the enrollment decline over the last academic year. In Summer 2012, enrollment dropped nearly 9 percent, followed by a 2.8 percent drop last fall. Holland attributed the decline to a ripening economy and changes to the open and structured enrollment policies, among other things.

The number of fall 2012 students appears to have balanced at the third week of class and at the end of the term. The pattern, outlined by Holland, reported 21,616 students enrolled at week three and a slightly higher figure of 21,651 at the end of the semester.

“We are always seeing signs that these policy [changes] are having their intended effect as we continue our inclusive mission of access and open admission institution,” Holland said. “Our students are entering on a more serious footing. They are better prepared for the rigors of higher education, and we are better organized to assist those who are willing to stay on their path to scholastic success.”

The president spoke on the unexpected announcement last October by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concerning missionary age eligibility and the effect it will have on enrollment.

“Even as all of us note and many of us share in the celebratory nature of this change for so many in our community, we know that this change is already creating some very significant short-term challenges for the university,” Holland said.

Holland said the reported 9 percent drop in spring enrollment was “not entirely accurate.”

Spring 2013 enrollment at week three is down 6.8 percent compared to week 3 in spring 2012. Again, Holland credits the enrollment policy changes and students returning to the job market in addition to the missionary age change for the dip in enrollment.

Becuase of these trends, the university is now experiencing a budget shortfall.

“This combination of decreases in enrollment last summer, last fall and this spring translates to a revenue decrease of approximately $5.3 million. Last time I checked, that’s real money,” Holland said. “We are absorbing this major financial hit in the current year with little to no disruption of ongoing services and support.”

Holland said there have not been spending restrictions placed on existing projects because of revenue loss, and the development of new projects are not on hold. Though due to the shortfall, UVU is on a hiring chill, meaning new employees will not be hired without special consideration by the corresponding vice president, the Budget Office, the Human Resources department and the president himself.

Looking ahead to the 2013-14 academic year, UVU could expect to see a 4 to 7 percent enrollment drop next fall, with a revenue loss calculated between $2.3 and $4.7 million. Collectively, in regards to losses from summer 2012 to fall 2013, total revenue loss due to enrollment changes are projected between $7.6 and $10 million.

Holland detailed other issues the university is already dealing with or set to deal with, including cuts to Pell grants, decreases in the state’s budget for Utah colleges and universities and potential funding sequestration.

Among these issues, Holland noted another threat facing Utah Valley University: Due to concerns over global warming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s recently placed the wolverine, the university’s mascot, on the endangered species list.

To offset revenue losses resulting from the enrollment decline, UVU is focusing their efforts on marketing, student recruitment and the number of class offerings available, in addition to the promotion of the Deferred Admissions and Leave of Absence programs.

Mallory Black is the News Editor at the UVU Review student newspaper at Utah Valley University. Follow her on Twitter at @mblack47.

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