A year-long challenge pays off in a big way
In general, a conversation in passing rarely turns into anything more than just that. But last year when President Matthew Holland spoke with a one student, Cindy Oppel, “a random conversation turned into a $4 million project,” Holland said.
While many students struggle with personal issues during their time at school, Oppel’s situation moved Holland to action when he heard that she had recently been diagnosed with MS, but had to return to school to acquire the education necessary to provide for her family, as her husband had double kidney failure.
After hearing Oppel’s story and with the annual President’s Scholarship Ball approaching, Holland decided to issue a challenge, to raise $2 million for scholarships to be used by UVU students, particularly students like Oppel, who work hard to succeed despite their personal conflicts.
To offer some perspective, according to Holland, the average amount raised annually was about $250,000, making $2 million a lofty goal.
“Not only did we reach that goal, but we doubled it,” Holland said.
Where UVU is hurting for state funding, they make up in community support.
Organizations and individuals like Vivint, Marriot, and Huntsman, to name a few, offered discrete sums of money to help meet this challenge.
“Giving is down across the nation, but the community really responded to this pitch,” Holland said. “The community responded so well in a difficult time.”
The $4 million is all new money and the school still has its existing scholarship funds to work with as well, creating the perfect opportunity to help more students.
And as the largest university in the state now, the need to help more students is greater than ever.
“We’re doing things on a whole new scale,” Holland said. “We need to do things on a scale that reflects that we are the biggest in the state.”
Holland plans to use the money for as many students as possible and to keep pushing forward the school’s key theme, student success, which “speaks to the core of our mission,” Holland said.
However, with over 33,000 students, the money will burn quickly, and the hope is that this giving will only inspire more.
“This isn’t the end of a conquest, it’s the beginning of a new of doing things,” Holland said.
Written by Andrea Whatcott
PHOTO COURTESY AUGUST MILLER – UVU Marketing/Communications