Photos by Jonah Hokit

In President Matthew Holland’s final State of the University address, he announced the five major areas of focus for the university in the last year and the school’s plans for its continued growth Jan. 19, at Center Stage.

Holland proudly announced UVU’s recent evaluation by Northwest Accreditors that student success is number one in UVU’s culture and focus. “They said they saw it everywhere, in every division and on every level,” Holland said.

Part of focusing on student success meant shifting focus on Student Mental Health Services, Holland said. “We’ve been very active on the mental health front.”

Since 2011, UVU has improved mental health services by reducing waiting times for general mental health assistance from six months to one month, and one week for psychiatric services. The number of mental health service hours provided to students increased to 40 hours a week, 12 positions added to mental health support staff, and increased mental health training to 2,000 individuals — a large increase from the nonexistent training four years ago — according to Holland’s presentation.

On the topic of mental health, Holland said, “We believe it. We’ve been on it. We’re going to improve it.”

UVU is focused on other areas of improvement as well: student success and completion, math preparedness, inclusive outreach, and the school’s dual mission of a combining a community college and a full-fledged teaching university.

Holland said UVU has a 79 percent graduation rate and its current student composition is 38 percent first generation students, according to 2017 data.

The State of the University speech also addressed UVU’s accomplishments in its multicultural inclusion of faculty and students by winning the 2017 Rose Duhon Sales award for Program of the Year from the National Association for Multicultural Education due to its efforts.

The school has also seen an increase in students of color from 8.9 percent to 18.1 percent since 2009.

“If there’s one thing, it’s our determination to be community responsive: we need to listen to the community as those who hire our students, involve our students, and those who raise our students,” Holland said.

The Board of Regents and audience members gather to hear President Holland Jan. 19.

UVU administrators want students to know that the school is headed in a good direction, “I’ll just say in the nine years President Holland has been here, he has always been able to really communicate in a very intentional way a sound and positive trajectory that UVU is on,” said Kyle Reyes, vice president of Student Affairs.

“If I could leave one message, certainly, for UVU and higher education in general, I see a rising sun. Our very best days are ahead of us,” said Holland.

President Holland’s nameplate at Center Stage Jan. 19.