There was standing room only in the Ragan Theater Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 1, as President Matthew Holland delivered the annual State of the University address to an audience comprised of mostly faculty.
After touching on several points that the administration has been focusing on in the past years, like accessibility issues, technology-based and distance education, Holland expressed his optimism despite the “uphill battles in the legislature” and scarcity of resources for institutions of higher learning throughout Utah.
“I believe our relentless efforts to tell our story, which includes not only what I think is a just complaint about a relative lack of funding, but a glowing commitment to do everything in our power to address our challenges with as much creative thought and energy as possible is paying off,” Holland said.
Holland then directed the attention of the audience to a visual displaying two studies conducted by the Utah System of Higher Education, and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. The studies, focusing on equity in funding, showed clearly that UVU ranked lowest when compared to the average Utah institution, and when compared directly to other institutions.
As a result of these studies, Holland said, the regents and commissioner’s offices have made room in their proposed budgets for “equity enhancements.” The approval of these enhancements, however, lies in the hands of the Utah State Legislature, which will conclude its 2012 general session March 8.
Waiting for the limited resources to catch up with rapid growth, Holland pointed out, was something UVU employees endured well. Despite “resource inequities in the system,” Holland said, these employees have gone three years without cost of living adjustments. When Holland announced that he, too, turned down a pay raise, funneling the money instead into additional scholarships, the audience erupted with applause.
Holland highlighted several programs initiated in the past several years, like the business engagement strategy, civic engagement strategy and the institute for professional engagement, while addresing needed improvements, like raising the lowest rate of female attendance in not only Utah, but in the U.S.
Holland then pointed out that record fundraising in the 2011-2012 school year, along with a 24 percent increase in student retention since 2003, both point to UVU becoming a destination university.
“More and more students are coming, better and better prepared,” Holland said, before posing questions to the audience of faculty members. “Are we rising up to the occasion to teach, counsel and mentor them in ways fully worthy of a first-rate university? Are we watching carefully our spending priorities to make sure that what precious resources we have go as far as possible?”
As president, Holland explained that he receives a lot of letters with feedback, not the least of which include complaints about parking and the lack of a football team. He concluded, though, by reading several letters from individuals who have had emotionally positive experiences with the university. From the sound of the testimonials read aloud by Holland, along with the consistently high level of production from the various departments, UVU is indeed “rising up to the occasion.”
By Jeff Jacobsen
Online Content Manager