Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Could an article undo UVSC's lobbying efforts again?

When Professor Jeffery Nielsen was fired from Brigham Young University last year, he did what many others have done when the Lord's University has no more use for them...he joined the faculty at Utah Valley State College. A new article from the Salt Lake Tribune's Utah County reporter Todd Hollingshead catches up with Nielsen, who was ousted from BYU after writing an Op-Ed in the Trib criticizing the LDS church's stance on homosexuality.

Nielsen now splits his time between UVSC and Westminster College in Salt Lake, and is also working with SLC's mayor Rocky Anderson on something he calls the "Democracy House Project". Nielsen sees it as multi-level marketing approach to getting more people versed in the ways of government and democracy. Check out the article...it is pretty interesting stuff.

In the article UVSC's own David Keller is quoted as saying, "His [Nielsen's] research may not be consistent with the mission of private religious institutions, but it sure is consistent with the public, secular mission of UVSC". Pointing out UVSC's secular mission, and noting it's direct opposition to BYU's religious mission, is sure to get the attention of the conservative Utah County delegation, the recently formed Friends of Utah Valley PAC, and UVSC's resident cranky old grump Norm Nielsen (who at this point is double-checking his genealogy to make sure he isn't related to Jeff). And of course this article has to come out just days before the incredibly conservative, and overwhelmingly LDS, State Legislature begins their 45-day session, with the future of UVSC's move to university hanging in the balance.

All you UVSC folks who were around during the Michael Moore War remember that a series of articles in the Daily Herald concerning UVSC's supposed liberal leanings effectively sunk the school's chances of getting funding for the DLC back in 2005. Before those articles ran the DLC was on the top of the building list. After the articles the DLC didn't even make the list. In an article in The College Times UVSC's lone voice on the State Board of Regents, Marlon "No high school diploma" Snow, confirmed that the Utah County delegation was not pleased with UVSC's recent liberal leanings. At a dinner UVSC held to thank the Utah County delegation a few months later Rep. Steve Clark stood and said. "UVSC is a great opportunity for kids to have the BYU experience. We're walking on eggshells when we say this, but we know that people want that experience." It's a good thing UVSC hired Clark this past summer to be the new director of the Small Business Development Center.

Then in November of 2005, State Senate president John Valentine confirmed that he wouldn't work for University status until he got assurances that UVSC had seen the light and returned to being BYU-Orem. In an article in The College Times he was quoted as saying "What we need to have happen is not a repeat of what happened at this institution in the last couple of years. This institution reflects the values of the community in which it resides. And if we have continual efforts to try and move this institution away from the values of this community we are going to have some problems up at the state capital."

Considering that Valentine has now made UVSC's move to university status his top priority, The Pipeline can only assume that such assurances have been made.

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