President Astrid S. Tuminez delivered her first State of the University speech to students, faculty and staff in Holland Hall on Thursday, Jan. 24. During the address, Tuminez expressed great optimism in the direction that the university is going in regards to student success and future growth.
A key topic of the address was the measures in place to improve UVU’s 37 percent, eight-year graduation rate. With the recent announcement of the new First-Year Center slated for a soft-opening in fall of 2019, Tuminez said that improving this statistic is a focal point of her administration.
“The 45 percent graduation rate is a public commitment within the Utah System of Higher Education,” Tuminez said. “This is my commitment, this is the commitment of my cabinet—this must be the commitment of all of us.”
Tuminez also applauded the work being done by the Committee of Re-Envisioning the Undergraduate Experience. Alongside the FYC, these two measures will work in collaboration with the Academic Affairs Office and the Office of Student Affairs, according to Tuminez.
Suggesting that the current curriculum for undergraduate students may see adjustments in the near future, Tuminez said that obstacles standing in the way of students finishing degrees should be looked at differently and that a system should be created to apply previously attained credits to bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“I hope that we can support these changes, knowing that a lot of thought has gone into it, as well as the ongoing work of the committee, which is looking at high-impact practices and pathways,” Tuminez said.
With the recent announcement of a new maternity-leave policy that grants six weeks of paid leave to eligible employees, Tuminez also spoke on the her thoughts of its approval.
“I think we can all agree it was and is the right thing to do. If we really value families and children, we have to do the right thing,” said Tuminez. “I am a mother of three children, so I am so happy about this.”
Another focus of her address was on technology and the role it plays in higher education. As a former executive at Microsoft, Tuminez said she has seen the power of technology in today’s age and believes that it will revolutionize how students can achieve success.
“Today we have the cloud, and I don’t know how many of us are aware of how the cloud is revolutionizing everything,” Tuminez said. “Massive computing power is in the hands of every single person.”
According to Tuminez, Vice President of Academic Affairs Jeff Olson who is set to retire in June 2019, has implemented a digital transformation task force with this idea in mind. Utilizing a digital consultant from Notre Dame University, the task force is geared toward growing UVU’s technological integration.
“It’s not about plunking down money without knowing where it’s going to go,” Tuminez said. “It’s about defining what it is we want to do and how we use technology to do it better, faster and more effectively.”
Tuminez broke down various achievements in regards to tuition costs. According to a report from the Utah Board of Regents, UVU ranks fourth in the state for lowest tuition costs, right behind Snow College, Salt Lake Community College and Dixie State University.
Tuminez said that falling right in the middle cost wise is not a bad thing, but rather exactly where the university should be.
“We are not the cheapest, but we are not the most expensive, and I think that is a great place to be,” Tuminez said. “What we are doing here is value.”
Elaborating on the uniqueness of UVU’s growth, the president said that while a focus is on the number of students enrolling, it is also on how well those currently enrolled are doing.
“Our enrollment did not increase 86 percent, but our graduation rate did,” Tuminez said. “That’s something to celebrate.”
With regards to UVU’s commitment to inclusion and diversity in enrollment, which Tuminez has made a focal point in her administration, she said this was an initial factor that interested her in the presidential position.
“When I visited the website of UVU to decide whether or not I was going to apply for this job, this was one of the things that caught my attention,” Tuminez said. “Our numbers in terms of enrollment and graduation reflect that our approach and support of inclusion and diversity is working.”
The Filipino word “Bayanihan” translates to “a system of mutual assistance in which the members of a community work together to accomplish a difficult task.” Tuminez used this word to signify the achievements and initiatives in place as evidence of the dedication and service of past and present members of the UVU community.
“As we come to UVU every day, as students, staff, faculty and administrators [it is important] that we bring our best selves, our best energy, our best ambitions and our best commitment to getting our work done,” Tuminez said. “We will be here with our best selves every single day.”[/et_pb_text][et_pb_blurb title=”Maricel Evangelista” url=”https://www.instagram.com/maricelevangel/” image=”https://www.uvureview.com/wp-content/media/2018/08/034A9144_mh1530328813770.jpg” icon_placement=”left” content_max_width=”945px” admin_label=”MARICEL EVANGELISTA” _builder_version=”3.10″ border_width_all=”2px” border_color_all=”#000000″]