Holland Discusses Long-Term Plans to Sustain Quality and Access at UVU
February 16, 2011
For Immediate Release
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Brad Plothow (801) 863-7149
In addition to addressing Utah Valley University’s current state of affairs, including the institution’s recent accreditation renewal, President Matthew S. Holland discussed Utah Valley University’s plans for accommodating anticipated future growth while maintaining the quality expected of a university experience during the annual State of the University address Wednesday at the UVU Ragan Theater.
Likening UVU to the famed Brooklyn Bridge, Holland suggested that the institution can, and should, accommodate the dual missions of quality and access as long as the resources are available to sustain both key university functions. Holland noted that the engineers who built the Brooklyn Bridge defied the prevailing opinion that the structure could not be both long enough to span the enormous East River and also wide and strong enough to sustain the daily crush of traffic flows in one of the world’s most heavily populated areas.
“Today, at UVU, we face some similar challenges. Conventional wisdom suggests that we must choose between being a large-scale provider of an educational product of marginal quality, or we can stop growing and become a much more selective institution of ‘grade A’ university offerings,” he said. “Restrictive and sturdy, or expansive and weak — those would seem to be our choices as we face a torrential stream of new students over the next 10 years. But, like the daring Roebling family who envisioned the possibility of the Brooklyn Bridge, then gave it their all, quite literally, to see it executed, we see a third alternative. We see an educational bridge that is, at once, inclusive and serious.”
Holland pointed to the recent accreditation report from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), which commended UVU for remaining student centered amid soaring enrollment growth. The University’s fall enrollment settled at 32,670, an increase of nearly 4,000 compared to the previous year, which put UVU into the realm of Utah’s largest institutions of higher learning.
“As our accrediting report indicates, we are providing a large-scale, university-quality product that retains a remarkable degree of student focus and attention as well as a core set of community college offerings,” Holland said. “But the demands and volume of those who are to pass over our UVU bridge are increasing rapidly, and it does not appear that flow will abate any time soon. Whether we are building or simply expanding such a bridge, the requirements are the same.”
UVU’s role as a point of access to higher education will only become more relevant as the state looks toward the goal of increasing the number of college-educated Utahns from 39 percent to 66 percent by 2020, Holland said. This goal is important because population growth estimates suggest that the higher education system has a lofty task ahead of it in serving a significant wave of students in coming years.
“More than ever, we, as a whole state, need to be looking at how to get more students into the system, not weed more of them out,” Holland said. “All of these things, and others, thus point us toward handling substantial amounts of growth in the years ahead.”
Citing a comprehensive study connected to UVU’s strategic plan for growth, Holland said UVU will likely need to accommodate more than 46,000 students by 2020. To serve a student body of that size at current resource benchmarks, UVU will need an additional 1.4 million square feet, about 1,000 new employees (faculty and staff), nearly 5,000 parking stalls and about $45 million in new tax funds over the next 10 years.
Holland expressed confidence in UVU’s ability to reach the goals he outlined for maintaining the institution’s mission of access while preserving quality, given adequate resources. UVU’s growth plan includes an extensive toolbox of potential options for dealing with growth, which Holland summarized under seven headings: expand resources, maximize efficiency of existing resources, expand delivery options for programs, streamline the curriculum, provide student support for timely graduation, shape enrollment growth, and restrict enrollment growth.
Holland strongly emphasized that restricting enrollment growth would only be implemented as an option of last resort. There are no current plans for capping enrollment at UVU, he said.
“I do not want to restrict enrollment; doing so would fly in the face of our broad institutional commitment, and my own personal commitment, to access and opportunity,” he said. “But … if adequate resources for faculty, advisors, support staff, buildings, and parking do not accompany student growth in the years ahead, we must be prepared to act in such a way to protect the integrity and quality of education offered at Utah Valley University. It does students no good to welcome more and more of them with open arms only to fail them in providing meaningful educational experiences and reasonable avenues to timely graduation.”
Holland ended his remarks by noting several examples of how UVU acts as a critical bridge for students.
“It is my conviction that we are in the process of building a bridge even more significant than the one they built, for we are not building a bridge simply to transport millions of human beings from geographic point A to geographic point B. We are building a bridge that will ultimately transform millions of human minds and human hearts that will in turn transform the world around us for generations to come. There could be no greater work,” he said.
Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to nearly 33,000 students. UVU began as a vocational school during World War II, and in the seven decades since has evolved into a technical school, community college, state college and, finally, a comprehensive regional teaching university. UVU is one of Utah’s largest institutions of higher learning and offers programs ranging from career training to high-demand master degrees, with emphasis on undergraduate education and engaged learning.