The Utah System of Higher Education released fall enrollment numbers of the nine stated funded colleges and universities in the state. State growth reached almost 12,000 new students in the higher education system. Utah Valley University is among the highest growth with nearly 3,000 more students enrolled than fall 2007. Weber State University had the highest headcount growth with 3,368 new students.
UVU officials attribute the new university’s growth to the retention of continuing students. Nearly 14,000 of the school’s 26,696 population are continuing students. “The numbers tell us we are paying attention to our dynamics,” said President Liz Hitch, “We are a very popular institution.” Hitch also mentioned university status kept UVU in the news and propelled interest in the school. “This has become the place to be,” said Val Hale, vice president of institutional advancement.
Goals that have been sidetracked due to the extreme growth include bettering the student to advisor ratio and having more 55 percent of faculty on salary rather than employing a high number of adjuncts.
Budget cuts from the state have also impacted the school’s accommodations for growth. UVU falls at the bottom of the list of higher education institutions for square feet per student. The number is continually dropping and to maintain the amount of space students have now, two more digital learning centers would need to be built to maintain projected growth.
Linda Makin, executive director of budgets, also noted transfer students contributing to the high numbers. 26 percent of the overall growth for fall 2008 was transfer students.
87 percent of graduates from UVU stay in Utah. “We truly are building Utah’s workforce,” said Makin.