Completion rates, ‘exceptional’ values among themes of 2020 State of the University address


The completion rate of students must be the highest point of accountability and constantly on the minds of the staff, faculty, and students at Utah Valley University, President Astrid S. Tuminez said during her State of the University address Wednesday at the Orem Campus.

“Our eyes are on completion,” President Tuminez said. “We have clarity. Clarity is courage, because we are clear in where we want to go and who we are helping. We need to feel a sense of urgency. This is everyone’s job.”

Tuminez also emphasized the recently completed Vision 2030 plan as “a map to guide us through the next 10 years.” She said the document was drawn from examining many past master plans and hundreds of conversations, and it emphasizes “being relevant to our stakeholders.” She said the Vision 2030 strategy was an example of “exceptional accountability” and that it provides a timetable to manage growth and react to statewide attainment goals regarding higher education. 

Tuminez outlined UVU’s themes: exceptional care, exceptional accountability, and exceptional results — all of which, she said, ultimately lead to student success. One example Tuminez pointed to was the “elimination of barriers to success” in the enrollment area, such as streamlining financial aid verification, more emphasis and better communication of payment deadlines, and collaboration with regard to transfer credits. This, she said, “is where the rubber meets the road, and we do it because we care exceptionally.”

Other highlights from the State of the University address:

  • Two new scholarships — yet to be named and with specific details to be presented in February — were announced. “We know that for years UVU has been working on affordability, but many of our students still worry about how they will pay for schooling,” she said. The first scholarship will deal with funding gaps, particularly in the first two years of schooling. The second will look at students’ third and fourth years and keeping everyone on track to graduation and completion.
  • Completion/graduation rates have gone up 7% in the last year, Tuminez said, which is positive but not good enough. “We are delivering in our education mission, helping students gain those credentials and life skills they need to succeed.” But, she said, UVU has an announced goal of a 45% completion rate by 2025. “This is doable but will require more collaboration and commitment from all of us.” 
  • Tuminez described collaborations with Mountainland Technical College, Snow College, and Utah State University as examples to help with engaged-learning opportunities. She also noted that a large percentage of UVU’s enrollment consists of high school students participating in concurrent enrollment at minimum costs to the students. “We should be proud of that great benefit to students as we continue to personalize education.”

 Now in her second year at UVU, Tuminez highlighted numerous achievements of students, student groups, athletic teams, and academic awards in the past year. She noted that UVU is preparing an advancing workforce for Utah, graduating more students into four- and five-star jobs than any other USHE institution.