Academics or public relations: President Holland’s focus

Some around campus have taken exception to the politics of school administration, criticizing brief appearances by President Matthew Holland at some events, claiming it was face time with the cameras. One has to ask, ‘Is that really what his primary function is?’

Examine the role of the university; its entire existence, especially here, is to educate students and prepare them for their future careers.

Other schools may look to faculty research as a primary goal and because of that, how they appear to other universities is important. But that is not what this school is about. The administration’s primary goal is academic, providing students with a quality education.

“The academic mission is the heart of what we do here at UVU,” said Holland.“As president, then, I believe it is my role to help create the best academic environment as possible.”

This semester, Holland has set aside time to lecture in some classes on campus, drawing upon his time as an educator to provide an enhanced educational experience. He has already lectured in three classes, with several more scheduled for the coming months. His stated goal with these lectures is to stay “connected to the classroom” to “help create the best academic environment possible.”

Several students expressed a positive response to the lecture. Rob McMurray, a history education major, found the lecture “intelligent” and “very interesting,” viewing the visit as a rare opportunity similar to the university hosting Dr. Sibler as part of the Turning Points in History program on Sept. 22.

Michelle Lewis, an English major, said that lecturing “keeps the administration more in touch with students, which enhances the educational experience.”

Jen Wahlquist, professor of one of the classes that Holland lectured in, is thrilled to have an academic and scholar filling the role of university president. In her view, he resonates more with the faculty than someone who possesses a more administrative background.

Setting aside the hours to prepare material and meet with the classes for the lectures is representative of Holland’s commitment to the academics of the university.

“I hope to help UVU rise up to its full potential as a regional teaching university that has high academic values,” Holland said.

While academics are a large portion of the university’s concern, Holland acknowledges that “fundraising, public relations and administrative affairs” are also part of his position. Even with so much focus on academics, Holland is not shirking his responsibilities in these areas.

Earlier this year, Holland was instrumental in securing $45 million in state funds to expand the Pope Science building at a time when state budgets are tightening and funding for higher education has fallen.

Obviously, Holland is doing more than some of his critics are giving him credit for.

The lectures are a small part of everything occurring on campus and are only a small portion of President Holland’s schedule. At the same time, they speak volumes toward his commitment to the students, the faculty and the academics mission.

Complaining that he did not spend enough time at a student service event, an event much of the student body was absent for, completely misses the effort he is making for the university. Putting the students’ education above impressing the public is not a fault.

Leave a Reply