UVU launches 75th an­niver­sary year of cel­e­bra­tion

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Utah Val­ley Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Matthew S. Hol­land of­fi­cially launched the Univer­sity’s 75th an­niver­sary Tues­day, Jan. 26, with his sev­enth State of the Univer­sity ad­dress, re­mind­ing fac­ulty, staff and stu­dents in at­ten­dance that UVU’s present is much grander than its past — but not nearly as grand as its fu­ture.

Pres­i­dent Hol­land re­lated the story of the in­sti­tu­tion’s first leader, Hyrum John­son, who hired peo­ple to start new classes and bought equip­ment for them with his own money, with­out know­ing whether or when re­im­burse­ment or fund­ing would come. “Here was a man on a vi­tal mis­sion but vir­tu­ally no staff, no money, and no cam­pus,” said Hol­land. “Cramped in var­i­ous and ran­dom quar­ters across Utah and Heber Val­leys, in­struc­tors met with ea­ger, even des­per­ate, stu­dents de­liv­er­ing in­struc­tion wher­ever shared or do­nated space could be found.”

Cre­ated in 1941 as the Cen­tral Utah Vo­ca­tional School, “the in­sti­tu­tion took a whole gen­er­a­tion of mostly older, un­em­ployed men out of eco­nomic and pro­fes­sional de­spair, and bol­stered a world­wide fight against racial ter­ror and political tyranny,” noted Hol­land.

“Dur­ing my time here at UVU, I have spo­ken of­ten of Wil­son Sorensen [long­est serv­ing pres­i­dent for 37 years],” he con­tin­ued. “It was my priv­i­lege to meet Wil­son just weeks af­ter I had been ap­pointed pres­i­dent of UVU and just weeks be­fore he passed away. I made him a solemn prom­ise that day that I would do ev­ery­thing I pos­si­bly could to pre­serve and ex­tend his mag­nif­i­cent ac­com­plish­ments in build­ing up this ‘mir­a­cle in the val­ley’ we now call Utah Val­ley Univer­sity.”

A suc­cess­ful nurs­ing pro­gram was un­der­way by the 1950s, which pro­vided some of the ear­li­est and most ad­vanced pro­fes­sional op­por­tu­ni­ties for women in the area. “The re­gional health­care lead­ers tell me con­stantly that they have more suc­cess with UVU trained nurses than any other pro­gram around,” Hol­land said.

By the 1960s, aca­demic pro­grams were ex­panded and the school be­came known as Utah Trade Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tute; five years later it was re­named Utah Tech­ni­cal Col­lege. “In so many re­spects, the cour­ses and pro­grams that drove the cre­ation of this in­sti­tu­tion and re­main vi­tal to its ex­is­tence are those of the trades and tech­ni­cal education,” he said. “Th­ese pro­grams have lifted and trans­formed the op­por­tu­ni­ties of cit­i­zens who oth­er­wise might have been lost in more tra­di­tional pro­grams of pub­lic and higher education.”

In the 1970s, stu­dents con­sis­tently made a name for them­selves in vo­ca­tional com­pe­ti­tions, hon­ors that con­tinue to­day, Hol­land ob­served. This past year, UVU’s SkillsUSA team won the na­tional ti­tle with more gold medal fin­ishes than any other school in the coun­try.

In the 1980s, stu­dents ex­celled in busi­ness-re­lated pro­grams, ty­ing with a Wis­con­sin col­lege as a top win­ner at the DECA na­tional com­pe­ti­tion in 1983. In 1987, the school was re­named once again — Utah Val­ley Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

Dur­ing the 1990s, UVCC be­gan of­fer­ing four-year de­grees, which paved the way for the com­mu­nity col­lege to be­come Utah Val­ley State Col­lege, a bona fide four-year col­lege.

The 2000s ush­ered in the decade of be­com­ing a univer­sity, in­clud­ing be­ing named Utah Val­ley Univer­sity in 2008. Since then, the Univer­sity’s ac­co­lades are plen­ti­ful in academics, fac­ulty hon­ors, stu­dent awards and ath­let­ics.

Hol­land shared de­tailed ex­am­ples of fac­ulty and stu­dent suc­cess to il­lus­trate the im­por­tance of “hon­or­ing our past and re­veal­ing the cur­rent health and vi­tal­ity of our in­sti­tu­tion.”

The pres­i­dent noted there are thou­sands of sto­ries on cam­pus that demon­strate “we are all about lead­ing our stu­dents into phe­nom­e­nal paths of ful­fill­ment and achieve­ment. If the main pur­pose of our in­sti­tu­tion is stu­dent suc­cess, then when it comes to the state of the Univer­sity, I say that we are in­deed, ‘75 Years Strong.’”

As UVU looks to the fu­ture, its next build­ing pri­or­ity is the con­struc­tion of an arts fa­cil­ity. “UVU is in the process of de­vel­op­ing one of the best un­der­grad­u­ate pro­grams in the na­tion, yet we are the only school in the state that does not have a phys­i­cal home for the arts,” Hol­land said. “Ev­ery dol­lar raised makes a pub­lic vic­tory that much more likely. But we are also go­ing to need the sup­port of the Leg­is­la­ture to com­plete the fund­ing of this crit­i­cal pro­ject.

“This in­sti­tu­tion has a tra­jec­tory and des­tiny so much greater than any one area, pro­ject or per­son,” he con­cluded. “Think of where we have come from and where we are to­day. Now just imag­ine where we are go­ing. Our present is so much grander than our past but is not nearly as grand as our fu­ture. Our best days and finest ac­com­plish­ments are ahead of us, not be­hind us.”

UVU Pres­i­dent Matthew S. Hol­land de­liv­ers his an­nual State of the Univer­sity ad­dress Jan. 26.

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