Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A step closer to University for UVSC

It might have been easy to get swept up in the multitude of articles about UVSC's pending status in this morning's Daily Herald, Deseret Morning News, and Salt Lake Tribune. All three featured good sized articles about Senate Bill 70 clearing the Education Committee with a vote of 5-1. And while the bill mentions $10 million to make the transition happen, it doesn't really hand the money out.

In fact if you look closely at SB 70 you will see that the bill, which now must go before the full Senate, is mostly a procedural bill, editing the State System of Higher Education's code to allow for an eventual name change, the eventual granting of university status, and requisite change of mission to that of a Type II institution similar to Southern Utah University, and Weber State University.

The one no vote came from Howard Stephenson Draper-R, who tried to come across as a "don't rock the boat" kind of guy, saying that "We haven't had a dearth of students coming to that institution. We haven't had to advertise to get more kids coming to those slots. It's a system that has worked."

But instead Stephenson showed his ignorance when it comes to the realities of UVSC and the needs of Utah Valley. At one point he said that "UVSC has always been Utah's low-price leader in quality higher education."

Higher Education Commissioner Rich Kendell responded saying that the UVSC model is only working because students are paying a higher percentage of total funding. UVSC students still pay 51 percent of their education, while the state average has most Utah higher ed students paying 35 percent.

Stephenson forgets of course that just because the state has gotten a good deal out of UVSC the last 5-10 years, doesn't mean that someone else hasn't been paying the piper. Kendell pointed out that in the past 10 years tuition at UVSC has gone up 130 percent. UVSC's current tuition, which will surely go up if the move to university is made, is on par with tuition at Weber and SUU. Currently UVSC students pay just a hundred dollars less than their peers at Weber and SUU, and just three hundred less than Utah State University.

So will it pass the full vote of the Senate? Well considering that this Senate President John Valentine's baby, and he lists 26 senators as cosponsors, and there are only 29 senators total, than we would say: "Yes, the chances of the bill passing the senate look good." Even Stephenson is a co-sponsor, despite his nay vote.

But remember, this bill commits no funding (instead points out the need for it) and does not grant UVSC a change in status. It merely cleans up the books so that UVSC's mission-change can progress forward. It is a step closer, but its a small step.

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