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UVU President Compares University Successes To Olympic Spirit

14 February 2014 No Comment

February 14, 2014

For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Melinda Colton (801) 863-6807

During his State of the University address Feb. 11, Utah Valley University President Matthew S. Holland compared the aspirations of the University to that of UVU’s Olympic athletes. “I am convinced that we are headed for educational gold — an ability to provide a learning environment as rigorous as it is accessible, even as it rivals the largest institutions in the nation in terms of size of real world impact,” President Holland said.

Paying tribute to three UVU alumni who made bids to compete in the Olympics —Chris Fogt, Noelle Pikus-Pace and Akwasi Frimpong — the president shared their stories. Fogt and Pikus-Pace will compete in their events this year — skeleton and bobsled — while Frimpong secured a place as a second alternate for the Dutch bobsled team. “In their quest, there is something going on very much like what we are aspiring to as an institution,” he said.

“Like our Olympian athletes, we are constantly stretching forward, in the face of obstacles and challenges, for nothing less than educational gold medal achievement. Like our athletes, succeeding on the Olympic level requires a tremendous amount of grit and vision. UVU has both in spades.”

As essential as grit and vision are, they are not, ultimately enough. President Holland said these Olympic athletes have support, both public and private. “To achieve our Olympic-size dreams, we too must have private sponsors and public backing sufficient to our mission.”

The president focused a large portion of his address on the university’s legislative priorities, including acute equity funding proposed this session. This year’s Board of Regents’ budget and legislative appropriations have included funding to address the tax fund inequities that have developed in the Utah System of Higher Education. Holland said the University is grateful for the equity funding it has received the past two legislative sessions, but it has not addressed the most acute equity needs in the state.  He said a target is set to bring up the lowest funded schools to a common floor of $4,800 per FTE. “In doing so, UVU gets the highest percent  of the equity line.

It is historic that an equitable funding formula is in place this year, one which Holland says will finally give us a chance to put a significant dent in this decades old problem.”

Holland paid tribute to his colleagues in the Council of [University] Presidents for recognizing that something needed to change. “I call upon our governor, our speaker and our Utah Valley delegation to seize this historic moment — one not likely to be duplicated any time soon — and do everything they possibly can to fix the Utah Valley equity issues as much as they can.”

In return, he said UVU would rise up to its full strength to meet the educational demands of a region rapidly growing in numbers and complexity. But meeting these demands will require a major fusion of equity dollars.

“If there is one single message that speaks most powerfully and comprehensively to the state of UVU today it is this: this is the moment to do something and do something big, to fix the one thing that threatens the ability of this remarkable institution to fulfill its most noble and needed state mission,” Holland said.

At a time when higher education everywhere is under the most severe kinds of crosscutting pressures, UVU is breaking molds and forging a distinctive path. Holland reminded taxpayers that UVU is building a two-for-one institution that is without peer in its efficiencies while attracting an ever more accomplished faculty and “producing an ever more dazzling set of students . . . . The world does not quite know it yet, but UVU is one of the great educational success stories of the nation.”

In conclusion he recalled one Olympic lesson from 34 years ago when the U.S. men’s hockey team beat the Russian team to win the gold medal. During the game, U.S. Coach Herb Brooks could be heard yelling to his players to “play your game, play your game.” President Holland reassured faculty and students that UVU could do just that. “If we will ‘play our game’ and not someone else’s game, we will win. And we will win on a scale like no other institution I know.”

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