Sunday, March 11, 2007

UVSC's maturation ruffles some feathers around the state

When Gov. Jon Huntsman signs SB 70 next week and makes Utah Valley University a reality there will be a big celebration in the school's Grande Ballroom. But in other parts of the state residents won't exactly be dancing in the streets.

A recent editorial in the Ogden Standard-Examiner had some thoughts on how UVSC's progression might harm Weber State University and Utah State University:

We're also nervous about what granting "university status" to Utah Valley State College -- soon to become Utah Valley State University -- might do to funding at Utah State and Weber State universities. That initial $8 million bump to get the UVSU ball rolling has to come from somewhere, as will further allocations in future years. We can't help but suspect the Top of Utah's universities are being harmed by legislative leadership's Utah County mafia. We expect a building and development frenzy at UVSC/UVSU now, possibly at the expense of Weber and Utah State.

A Cedar City blogger expressed much of the same frustrations, as she feels then when the higher education pie gets split up the pieces will be smaller now that UVSC is at the table.

Of course people around the state said the same thing when Southern Utah State College made the jump to university not so long ago. And small players like Weber and SUU will always feel overshadowed by the bigger, more visible schools.

The thing UVSC must remember as it transforms to UVU is to be a good neighbor, especially to smaller schools like Weber and SUU. While the University of Utah and Utah State University get the lion's share of the funding (and as the state's research universities, they deserve it) UVSC often competes for scraps with SUU, Weber State. But fostering an adversarial relationship with these schools is counterproductive.

While SUU and Weber may whine about UVSC's big move now, eventually they will get over it, and it behooves all three schools to work together to show the legislature that Type II schools get the job done. UVSC could also use the support of the Regents from the Ogden and Southern Utah areas, especially when it comes time to grant new degree programs.

And that is a big issue. There is no doubt that constituents loyal to SUU and Weber were let down that UVSC's move came with virtually no opposition from the house or the senate. When it comes time to approve new degrees (especially those pesky new master's programs) it is easy to envision Regents from both areas giving the new guy some trouble. And you can count on departments and deans at both schools scrutinizing UVSC's new degree proposals with a fine-tooth comb.

If Big Bill doesn't mend some fences soon you can count on hassles down the road. UVU would also be smart to avoid overlap in master's programs currently offered at SUU and Weber. That being said there should be some wiggle room when it comes to market driven degrees like nursing, education, and business.

1 comment:

The Pipeline said...

Here is another citizen who thinks UVU spells trouble for USU: