If the most recent Board of Trustees meeting is any indication, Utah Valley University is facing some of its darkest days yet. With a drop in enrollment and no cost of living raise for faculty and staff following the recent state legislative session, UVU was forced to raise the price of tuition.
On Thursday, March 28, the Board of Trustees approved a one-percent raise to second-tier tuition. The following day at the meeting of the Utah State Board of Regents that increase was approved along with their proposed increase of five percent to first-tier tuition.
“I don’t believe the state intends to push dramatically any increases in funding to help the circumstance. I think they’re going to rely on the Board of Trustees wrestling with tuition increases for some time,” said trustee Terry Shoemaker. “All the years I’ve been a trustee here, I’ve seen that become a very important issue in terms of the legislature saying ‘Well, we’ll go this far, but if you want to do something different then it’s going to have to come through tuition increase,’ and that becomes problematic.”
Much of the money from this recent tuition hike will go towards employee compensation and benefits. With minimal amount of help from the state in terms of employee compensation, the administration at UVU was forced to look to a tuition increase to try and bring wages up to a median level.
“We are seeing an uptick in the amount of employees that we’ve had leaving the institution,” said Val L. Peterson, vice president of finance and administration. “When you look at the types of employees that are leaving, we’re seeing that it’s our better employees, our upper-end employees, that really, we would like to somehow hold on to, but many times the offer has been far too great for the institution to even compete. It’s becoming very difficult to keep the institution running at the same level.”
Forgoing a tuition increase last year, UVU and Salt Lake Community College are the only schools facing a six-percent increase in tuition.
As UVU has already faced a severe drop in enrollment, administration is hoping that they don’t price more students out of the school. Given the dire situation that they’ve found themselves in, the administration didn’t feel like they had much of a choice to do anything else.
“The fact of the matter is our employees have had a one percent raise in the last four to five years,” said President Matthew Holland. “During that time we’ve taken on extreme levels of growth. that’s only happened because people have done more with less and are putting in more and more. I really believe we are running this institution beyond capacity, and we cannot continue to ask our folks to do this without some relief and some progress.”
Alex Sousa is studying journalism in UVU’s communication department. He’s serving as the managing editor at the UVU Review as well as the editor of the music blog on uvureview.com. He’s had experience working as a freelance writer and also as a copy writer at a marketing agency. Currently he’s working as the Editor-in-chief of the Utah Tech Magazine, an interactive, digital publication. He’s a Utah native who’s traveled around the world; having lived in Mexico, backpacked through Europe, studied in the Middle East and—for a time—been stranded in the Ukraine. He can be found on Facebook and he’s available on Twitter @TwoFistedSousa or by email at [email protected].