Any fine university should be made of more than its spatial distribution, student organizations and faculty. Inherent in the desire of a community-based institution such as UVU is the motivation to reach out into the community, in order to positively influence its citizens. The necessity for community-based activism has arrived.
Peace and social justice cannot come about without the university community. In order for this university to have a global impact, we must start locally. The problems in Utah County are not necessarily the problems of the rest of the world. But in order for us to have a voice on the global stage, we need to show that we can change the community around us. The problems that face humanity can and must be dealt with. UVU has stepped onto the global stage. We have potentially become a vehicle to assist with global amelioration at this juncture.
Local issues are appropriately prioritized. Sociologist and UVU professor Ron Hammond, PhD auspiciously highlighted some of the opportunities associated with our fresh start and new duties as members of a university community. “The strategies adopted by the administration allow us to build a bridge into the community so that we can have a positive impact,” he said. “An important issue is working with the minority community. We’ve also need to worry about poverty, and the disadvantaged.”
Hammond has his eye out for the disadvantaged, and he’s not the only one.
The other portion of the disadvantaged are not necessarily affected by poverty, but by the attraction of other more distinguished universities. Renowned humanities professor and Artist-in-Residence Alex Caldiero said in an interview, “There is a level of student here that is comparable to students at great universities like Harvard and Stanford.” He’s right. And in order to keep those overqualified students here at UVU, “we’ve got to fulfill the function of a university.”
Clubs can be started and sports can be played, but that won’t be what makes us a great university. Senior Courtney Welch of Rochester, New York said, “UVU has the potential to become globally engaged. There is so much excitement here. Less people are wearing BYU apparel, less people are transferring, and more people are getting involved.” Welch, who would like to work in higher education administration, also noted, “As the quality of students UVU educates improves, so will the economy around our community.”
We’ve seen the blueprints for the future buildings, and we’re proud of that; but the future of the university depends not upon the infrastructure, but upon the people who occupy those buildings. The change must begin now. As students, we need to continue to take initiative to be active members of the community by becoming globally minded and locally recognized for our efforts. Our graduates need to secure the best internships, be admitted to the most prestigious grad schools, and become employed by the best companies. The faculty needs to initiate the creation of centers of research. They need to be published, and make their voices heard. They need to recruit funding to attract students with aspirations of undergraduate research.
UVU will inevitably act as a conduit through which many great things will come about for the improvement of the county, the state and the world. As we begin to think and study more like university students, let’s prepare to leave an indelible mark on the world.
Let’s mandate innovation and expect dynamism: ensure that greatness is the norm and peace our intent. These values will provide the framework for the next generation of Wolverines, ensuring that they will have a stellar university, and in turn an improved world.