Saturday, July 21, 2012, friends and family of Stephen Covey gathered at the UCCU Center to pay respects to a beloved father and businessman. Covey is recognized worldwide as an inspiring leader, and on UVU campus he is remembered as a friend who worked enthusiastically to help the school achieve university status.
Covey was a founding member of the National Presidential Advisory Board, first organized during President Sederburg’s tenure at UVU. Composed of successful leaders with connections to Utah, a main goal for the board was to assist the then state college reach its potential as a full-fledged university. Covey’s leadership ability, knowledge and vision for what UVSC could be made him an obvious choice for membership of the group.
“He was one of the people we wanted to get on the board,” said Rusty Butler, fellow NPAB member and Associate Vice President for International Affairs at UVU. “He saw a crying need. He knew the youth of Utah County needed an alternate university option aside from BYU for achieving education. He was exceptionally optimistic from the start.”
Before the school could become a university, legislative hurdles needed to be resolved and public opinion needed to be swayed.
“There were problems with other state institutions that didn’t want UVSC to become a university,” Butler said. “They were treating this as a win/lose situation rather than a win/win situation. Dr. Covey saw this as a win/win for everyone.”
Despite a busy schedule, Covey rarely missed board meetings, and his name was not used for prestige purposes. He joined the board to be engaged in the causes of the university. The problem-solving skills Covey used in his business ventures helped the school reach its goals.
“In all the years I’ve lived,” Butler said, “he has to be one of the most amazing individuals I’ve been able to have the honor to work with. His passing will be a great loss for many people and many institutions, but in particular UVU and the National Presidential Advisory Board.”
Butler recalled a board meeting where an issue was being heavily debated and a solution seemed far out of reach. Covey had been silent and weighed all the opinions being expressed before finally offering his view on the problem.
“Everyone went quiet,” Butler said. “Pens and pads came out. Then [Covey] started to give a workable solution to this issue that was absolutely amazing. It was almost as if there were 100 geniuses listening in and giving their input to Dr. Covey. It was remarkable.”
Some of those lessons Covey governed his work habits with were compiled in his book “7 Habits for Highly Effective People.” The critically acclaimed book is the base curriculum for the UVU class under the same name, CLSS1200.
“In his prime he recorded his ideas,” said Eldon McMurray, an instructor for the course and K-12 Mentor Tutor Outreach Counselor. “The students get to see little vignettes Dr. Covey has recorded. It is a phenomenal life-skills class.”
McMurray, who has taught the “7 Habits” course for ten years, explains that he always sees a positive change in attitude by students that take the class.
“They become very thoughtful and confident,” said McMurray. “That’s one of the most important things I notice in students that take this course.
By Alex Gee