UVU First Lady Paige Holland Hosts Women’s Leadership Event In Support Of Female Students
March 21, 2012
For Immediate Release
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Cheryl Kamenski (801) 863-6351
Utah Valley University First Lady Paige Holland hosted a gathering of supportive and community-engaged women from Utah Valley during UVU’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Spring Luncheon held Monday at Riverside Country Club in Provo, Utah. At the event, participants discussed and developed ideas to encourage Utah women to complete degrees in higher education.
Paige Holland, along with Deborah Bingham, a member of the UVU Board of Trustees and president of UVU Foundation, Karen Ashton of Aston Family Foundation and Donna Root, CEO of Diamonds by Donna, led table discussions on how the community can be more involved and supportive of women who seek college degrees while also balancing work and family responsibilities.
Ideas and feedback generated by the event’s 220 participants will be reviewed and developed into new programs in an effort to cultivate the desire in young women to attend and graduate from college.
“We want to share ideas and expand our spheres of influence to make a difference, especially in the lives of our children and young women here in Utah Valley,” Paige Holland said. “One of the challenges we face is low attendance and graduation rates among young women.”
Susan R. Madsen, UVU professor of management with the Woodbury School of Business and the Orin R. Woodbury Professorship in Leadership and Ethics, presented findings of a two-year Utah Women and Education Project she directed for the state to understand and motivate young women to enter and stay in school long enough to obtain college degrees.
According to Madsen’s research, Utah has the lowest percentage of postsecondary students who are female of all the 50 states.
“Young women understand a college education may mean a better job, but they do not see that educated women live longer and happier, are more active within the community and spend more time reading with their children,” Madsen said.
Madsen said if parents and role models had conversations with young women about college and encouraged them to pursue higher education then those women were more likely to graduate from college. “Education leads to more influence,” Madsen said. “And the power begins with one person having a conversation.”
UVU President Matthew S. Holland introduced several university initiatives that focus on improving children’s reading and math skills and expanding the Wee Care Center, a child daycare facility available on UVU’s Orem campus. This daycare facility is an important resource for students with children, where priority is given based on economic need. For many of these students, such a facility is absolutely essential for them to be able to complete a degree while juggling the demands of a young family.
“I was a single mom working full time and trying to go to school full time. My goal was to get my degree the quickest I possibly could so that I could focus on my kids,” said Holly Lundell, who graduated with honors from UVU in April 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. “The Wee Care Center was not only a place for my kids to go while I was in class, but it was a place I felt comfortable with them being if they couldn’t be with me.”
Currently, the Wee Care Center only has the capacity to care for around 100 children, but surveys indicate that there are more than 500 children who belong to low-income students pursuing an education at UVU. Consequently, each semester the Wee Care Center turns away many children due to a lack of capacity.
“One of the biggest stumbling blocks for young mothers to return to school is childcare,” President Holland said. “The Wee Care Center is often the answer, but the problem is that the center is too small and too old.”
Expanding the Wee Care Center is one of President Holland’s most important priorities this year. After a community fundraising effort, UVU plans to triple the size of the Wee Care facility on the existing site to provide larger classrooms and play areas, roomier napping areas, an updated kitchen, multi-purpose rooms and critically needed storage space.
Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to more than 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.