Historical Development OverviewIn 1941, the nation was slowly recovering from the depression of the 1930s. The shadow of war was creeping closer, and the need for arms and ammunition by the allied forces demanded skilled craftsmen. Many citizens had benefited from the federal work programs during the depression but needed more training to qualify for better jobs. Vocational classes were taught at various shops and businesses throughout Utah and Heber Valleys under the direction of the State Vocational Office.
In fall 1941, under the direction of Hyrum E. Johnson, the vocational training courses from the Utah and Heber Valleys were moved to a central location in south Provo and were named Central Utah Vocational School.
After World War II, 90 percent of the school's budget was lost with the cancellation of the war production training funds. A bill was introduced in the 1943 Utah Legislature to make the school a state-supported, two-year vocational school. The bill, although approved in the House, was defeated in the Senate. Cutbacks followed and fewer classes were offered until the college received a $50,000 operating costs appropriation for 1945 through 1947. The appropriation was strongly opposed by local two-year colleges and the two local universities, because it posed a threat to the money those institutions received from the legislature. In 1947, the school received funding as a permanent state institution.
During the summer of 1945, Johnson was given a leave of absence. Following a short transitional period, Wilson W. Sorensen, former purchasing agent for the school, was appointed director. Sorensen was instrumental in obtaining a new 13 acre site for the school in Provo, purchased by Provo City, Utah County and the four local school districts with the understanding that the state would finance new college facilities.
In 1952, the state appropriated $400,000 for the first phase of the Provo Campus. The complete facility was built in three phases and completed in 1963. The campus was designed for 1,200 students. In 1961, enrollment was nearing 1,000 students; by 1971, it increased 100 percent to nearly 2,000, far more than the campus could accommodate.
Growth brought many changes to the College. During the Sorensen years, the name of the college changed several times to reflect these dynamics. In 1963, it changed from Central Utah Vocational School to Utah Trade Technical Institute. In 1967, it became Utah Technical College at Provo, and with this change, the college was first given authority to confer associate degrees. Demand for more space sent college officials searching for land. One hundred and eighty-five acres of farm land were purchases in southwest Orem adjacent to Interstate 15. The first phase of the new campus used state and student funds for the first buildings and a $1.5 million federal grant for landscaping. This initial campus was dedicated in March 1977. A Learning Resource Center and Trades Building were added to the campus as soon as the state made funds available.
In 1982, Sorensen retired after 41 years of service and 37 years as president. J. Marvin Higbee, former president of Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, was named the third president of the college. President Higbee took the challenge of broadening the image and scope of the College to reflect this expanded educational opportunities to all facets of the community. In 1987, the legislature changed the school's name to Utah Valley Community College to reflect this expanded mission. The campus continued to expand under President Higbee. Not only were there major building projects initiated but also several education programs were added to help the College keep pace with local demand. President Higbee also emphasized the need for community support of the institution by focusing the involvement efforts of the Development Office, Utah Valley Community College Foundation, and the Alumni Association. In 1988, Lucille Stoddard, Vice President of Academic Affairs, was appointed interim president during the search for a new president.
Kerry D. Romesburg was appointed president in 1988, and led the College into its era of incredible growth. President Romesburg spent much time analyzing the needs of the students and directed his efforts toward filling those needs. With the student in mind, President Romesburg initiated the conversion of the college to a semester calendar, the first state school to do so. Also under Romesburg's direction, emphasis on international education, arts and humanities, and short-term training were instilled throughout the curriculum. In his attention to international relations, UVCC became one of the first community colleges to sign an exchange agreement with Soviet Russia. More exchange agreements were created with China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Germany.
Romesburg also administered a charge to keep classes to a 34-student maximum, to better focus on the student. He taught classes on campus, and although the academic emphasis of the College changed Romesburg never lost sight of the valuable trades and vocational training UVCC offered.
During Romesburg’s tenure, which stretched from 1991 to 2002, student enrollment skyrocketed. Some 8,700 students walked the halls in 1991, while more than 23,000 were enrolled in 2002.
In 1992, the Utah System of Higher Education and the Board of Regents proposed an initial offering of four-year degrees at UVCC. Romesburg jumped the opportunity to increase the College’s offerings. Business Management, Computer Science and Information Systems, and Technology Management were the first three bachelor degree programs approved.
After noting the institution was growing and expanding its mission and focus, the Board of Regents changed the name to Utah Valley State College in 1993. The school received it provisional accreditation from the Northwest Accrediting Association. Additionally, a five-year consortium agreement was established between UVSC and the Kiev College of Hotel Management in the Ukraine, and UVSC became the first institution into United States to receive accreditation for programs offered in the former Soviet Union. Official accreditation was awarded June 22, 1994.
The rest of the 1990s saw significant growth for the new State College. Bachelor degree after bachelor degree was added to the institution’s offering plate, and by 2003, the grand total was 33. More than 50 associate degrees were also offered, along with significant certifications, diplomas, and concurrent enrollment programs. Today the College offers 57 bachelor’s degrees and has plans for more additions.
The Center for the Study of Ethics was created in 1993. It better focused the Ethics Across the Curriculum Program and brought prestigious faculty to the College. UVSC created a Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum, an institution which aims to support ethics educators in the United States, Guam, and Australia. With Close to 250 international members and academic journal Teaching Ethics, collected and edited by the school, UVSC caused a ripple in the international ethics pond. In 2001, it was awarded the Theodore M. Hesbergh Award, a $30,000 cash prize rewarding innovative ethics curricula that inspired similar initiatives at other schools. In 1996, the David O. McKay Events Center for special events was completed and dedicated on the Orem Campus. UVSC, a member of the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association, saw not only many UV athletic events but also many community trade shows, concerts, and conferences. In January 1997, the single-game attendance record for a NJCAA team was set at 8,063 in the McKay Events Center.
The late 1990s and the early 2000s saw a lot of construction on campus. UVSC announced a Liberal Arts building to be completed in August 2003, and the Utah County Journal Building was purchased on the southeast side of campus and remodeled.
The School of Education was announced in 2002 as the eighth school of study at UVSC. Other schools are the School of Business; School of Continuing and Adult Education; School of General Academics; School of Humanities, Art and Social Sciences (HASS); School of Science and Health, and School of Technology and Computing.
Other campus expansions included the addition of the Wasatch Campus, UVSC in Heber, Utah. UVSC currently has campus offerings at the North and South Valley Education Centers in Lehi and Spanish Fork, respectively, and up until Fall 2006 the University Mall in Orem. Additionally, UVSC opened a Woodbury Art Gallery at the University Mall, displaying contemporary works of art not necessarily affiliated with the school.
In 2002, Romesburg accepted another administrative position and resigned his position as president of UVSC. Lucille Stoddard, Vice President of Academic Affairs, was again appointed interim president during the search for a new president. The fifth president, William A. Sederburg, was selected from an excellent field of candidates.
In that same year, the school was given a provisional status in the NCAA Division I athletic competition. UVSC started Division I play in the 2003-2004 school year. A new wrestling program was added and continues to be the only one of its kind in the state of Utah. Other intercollegiate programs at UVSC are men’s baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball. A new baseball stadium was dedicated in 2005. Also in 2005, what has been the Vineyard Elementary School was remodeled to house the School of Education and several other programs.
In September 2006 ground was broken for a new 190,000 square foot Digital Learning Center to be completed in 2008. In February 2007, the Utah Legislature unanimously voted to make Utah Valley State College a university in 2008. On July 1, 2008 UVSC officially became Utah Valley University and the Digital learning Center held its ribbon-cutting ceremony. With the new name came a new mission, role statement, and set of core values to guide the university in the coming years.
In August 2008, President Sederburg officially resigned his position as president of UVU in order to fulfill his new responsibilities as Commissioner of Higher Education in Utah. Dr. Liz Hitch, Academic Vice President, was appointed Interim President, and Karl Worthington assumed her duties as acting Academic Vice President.
Under President Sederburg’s leadership, a strategic planning model was developed with aligned planning with budgeting and accountability (PBA Process). The athletic and academic programs prospered. The institution went from college to university status. The number of bachelor’s degrees offered went from 31 in 2003 to 58 in 2009. UVU began offering master’s degrees in Fall 2008 with the Master’s of Education. In the Fall of 2009, the Master’s of Nursing began being offered and now of a third master’s degree, Master’s of Business Administration has been approved for Fall 2010.
A good predictor of the future of the college is a look into the past. Service, change and growth were the keywords during the first 67 years of the school which began as Central Utah Vocational School and is now Utah Valley University. The same ideals will take root in the school’s future, as enrollment continues upward and tests the resourcefulness of UVU employees and its community. As the University continues to grow, more than 80% of it students still come from Utah, as well as students from every state and from 68 countries (including the U.S.).
On June 1, 2009, Dr. Matthew S. Holland was selected from an exceptional pool of candidates and was made Utah Valley University’s sixth president. Throughout his career, Dr. Holland has established a reputation as a respected educator, savvy problem-solver and master communicator. Those traits, along with his pedigree of leadership, will serve him well as he leads UVU into the future. He is eager to build on the successes of previous generations and emphasizes the institution’s role as a key contributor to the region’s academic development and economic growth.