Friday, June 29, 2007

UVSC names LDS Institute director to head new program

Though he has been hinting at it for months, UVSC president Bill Sederburg finally made it official today when he hired LDS Institute director Jack Christianson to head a new program called the Community of Engaged Learners Initiative. Here is the press release that went out with Big Bill's e-mail announcing the appointment:

Jack Christianson to Lead Newly Created UVSC Department

In April, Utah Valley State College President William A. Sederburg unveiled a plan – now known as the Communities of Engaged Learners Initiative – for the institution to become more engaged in the community as it transitions to university status. Sederburg today announced that Jack R. Christianson has accepted an offer to become the Executive Director of Communities of Engaged Learning at UVSC.

As executive director, Christianson will collaborate with UVSC’s academic community to help create opportunities for service and engagement within the region. He will report directly to the president, but collaborate and coordinate with the divisions of both academic and student affairs.

Christianson completed a doctorate in 2006 working with Dennis O’Keeffe from the University of Buckingham (United Kingdom) where he wrote a dissertation titled, “School and the Literate Order.” Some of his research identified key learning strategies faculty can use to engage students and increase community benefit.

“The Communities of Engaged Learners Initiative will accomplish real learning – not just book learning, but learning by doing,” Christianson said. “Therefore, the student can then become the teacher, and the teacher always learns most. I’m not sure we really grasp it until we can teach it to someone.”

Christianson brings 30 years of experience in education, most recently as director of the Orem LDS Institute of Religion adjacent to UVSC’s campus. He is currently a faculty member at Brigham Young University. He is a native of Utah County, and well known as a speaker in the community.

“It’s a marvelous opportunity for me because I’m well connected with the community, I know many of the faculty, staff and administration, and I know the students just about as well as anybody,” Christianson said.

In the coming weeks more will be shared about the UVSC Community of Engaged Learners Initiative. Christianson will be establishing an advisory board of academic and student affairs leaders as well as community representatives to oversee a $400,000 fund available to UVSC faculty and staff engaged in student-centered, regionally-focused research.

Similar programs have been very successful at other regional state universities. This is an opportunity for UVSC to enhance the quality of teaching and student learning experience while becoming more relevant to its sponsoring communities.

“Dr. Christianson’s research on engaging students in learning activities that are meaningful and relevant will be an excellent foundation for launching UVSC’s Communities of Engaged Learners Initiative as the institution transitions to university status,” said William A. Sederburg, UVSC president. “His extensive, first-hand knowledge of the region will also be key.”

Does anyone else get the feeling that Community of Engaged Learners Initiative sounds like it was named by some random business buzzword generator? It will be interesting to see if anything comes of a program that seems, at least at first glance, to be quite nebulous.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More feathers fly between UVSC and the Owlz

Jason Franchuk over at the Daily Herald has picked up on the story about the fight between the Orem Owlz and it's landlords at UVSC, that has both sides pointing fingers and brandishing contracts.

Owlz owner, UVSC bicker over park name (Daily Herald)

Franchuk's story has more of the two sides locked in a passive-aggressive game of tug-of-war, and it follows on the heels of Jason Adkin's story in the Deseret News last week.

A few more details have come out, including Val Hale saying that he believes that the reason why the Owlz are insisting the stadium be called the "Home of The Owlz" is because they missed out on a possible pay day when they failed to secure a sponsor.

There was also this little nugget:

"While we enjoy the media coverage given us by the various media outlets, we will ask once again, this time with legal documentation to supplement the request, that all media references to the stadium be 'Home of the Owlz' and not Brent Brown Ballpark, Brown Ballpark, or any other variation of that name," Owlz general manager Zachary Fraser wrote in an e-mail dispersed to media outlets last Saturday that Katofsky approved.

"Our ownership group has stated that if this is not the case, we will unfortunately have to not allow violating members of media groups access to the stadium, players, or staff during our season."

In other words, they are asking the local media to pick sides. Some might think this is a smart move, after all the sports writers at the two papers in this one horse town get mighty lonely between BYU Football seasons, so staying on the team's good graces means better access to sports stories during the long boring summer.

On the other hand, The Owlz just might need the papers more than the papers need the Owlz. Throwing down an ultimatum complete with "legal documentation" to a bunch of fickle sports guys just might be enough to piss them off. And they would have a tough time locking out the guys from the Daily the paper is a major sponsor of the team and has contracts swapping print ads for signage at the stadium.

And according to Franchuk, it isn't all just talk On opening night, June 19, there were issues in the stadium regarding banners. One was a Brent Brown banner that Owlz officials tried to cover before being stopped by UVSC reps.

This one might be a black eye for both parties for a little while. UVSC's VP of marketing Val Hale (pictured to the right) summed up the school's side of the story thusly: "It's totally baffling to everyone at UVSC that the Owlz would do this...The school owns the ballpark, the school owns the rights and keeps all of the revenue [from the Brown sponsorship]...It's in the contract. It's black and white, no question to it."

Katofsky, a lawyer and real estate developer in California, sees it the other way. "I know our deal. Our deal with the school was very clear," he said. "I am very happy UVSC got sponsorship, but they can't sell ours. For all of us (in the Owlz ownership group), it's a labor of love first and a business second. But it's still a business."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fight over UVSC fight song

Today's Des News featured a fun little story about the UVSC image committee and their struggle to update the UVSC fight song.

UVSC's fight song not quite imprinted on students' minds (Deseret Morning News)

While the fight song fight is just barely newsworthy, it does speak to a deeper fundamental issue––that UVSC will always be compared to that other college down the road. It is hard enough to be thought of as BYU's bastard we really need a song that backs up that perception?

Here are the lyrics as they are currently:

Stand up and cheer, UVSC
Year after year
You will be
Strong in battle
'Til the game is done
'Til the victory
You have won, won, won
Stand up and sing
Green and gold
Our song will ring
Loud and bold
Follow your colors
And soon you will be
Wolverines of UVSC

By the way, outside of student government nerds, nobody knows that this song even exists, let alone the actual lyrics.

Monday, June 25, 2007

UVSC adds 4-year biotech degree

Here is a piece describing UVSC's latest degree in today's Page One that was sent out to all campus employees:

New Bachelor Degree in Biotechnology Offered at UVSC

Utah Valley State College’s 56th baccalaureate degree is a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biotechnology.

Biotechnology is technology designed to work with biological systems. This includes research, development, quality control and manufacturing in fields such as genetic engineering, medicine, agriculture and forensics. UVSC’s program will be laboratory intensive and will give students hands-on experience in biotechnology that will better prepare them for future careers. This will make students more marketable to the growing biotechnology industry in Utah.

“Typical biology graduates accepting jobs in industry, take up to a year to reach a productive level due of their real lack of hands on experience, regardless of which school they come from,” said Mark Bracken, chair of the biology department. “Now, instead of taking a year or two to train, these students can be independently productive in just a few weeks to a few months. This makes them more competitive not only in the industry, but with graduate schools as well.”

With this approval, UVSC is the only institution in the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) with a baccalaureate program in biotechnology.

“Graduates of this program will have the opportunity to continue into graduate course work and degree programs at the University of Utah and Utah State, neither of which have baccalaureate program in biotechnology,” said Karl Worthington, interim vice president for academic affairs.

Orem Owlz refuse to play ball when it comes to stadium naming rights

Opening Day for the Orem Owlz' third season at UVSC was just last week, and it appears that tensions between the minor league baseball team and their campus landlords are once again heating up.

Two weeks ago when it was announced that local auto dealer Brent Brown was securing naming rights for the school's baseball stadium, the Owlz' general manager Zach Fraser told local media outlets that the team would still refer to the stadium as "Home of the Owlz" and not "Brent Brown Ballpark".

In an article over the weekend The Deseret Morning News tried to get to the bottom of this inconsistency.

UVSC, Owlz playing stadium name games (Deseret Morning News)

This is not the first time the team and the college have faced off against each other over their 10-year lease agreement. From the beginning in 2005 the two have maintained a tempestuous relationship to say the least.

At the heart of this controversy is the fact that UVSC is one of the few colleges in the country that provides facilities to a professional baseball team. In doing so the grounds at the stadium must be maintained at a level far above what is found at your average Division I school. This maintenance costs big bucks, and if it isn't up to snuff come opening day minor league baseball can shut the facility down. The team's affiliate, The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (no stranger to the politics of sports naming), also throws a fit when their valuable prospects play on an unsafe surface.

For those who have been out to a ballgame for the past two years, you know that the grounds crew does an amazing job night in and night out. But the cost of paying the crew falls on the college, and from what The Pipeline has heard from Owlz' management that cost gobbles up most of the lease payments the team makes.

A member of the Owlz front office also told The Pipeline that when the team met with Bill Sederburg a few months ago, the college president started off the meeting by saying "So when can we get you guys out of here?"

The naming rights issue was already particularly sticky for the team and the college, as the two entities had met together several times to try and secure a sponsor when Parkway Crossing fell through. The team had offered to find a corporate sponsor in exchange for a percentage of the deal, and apparently the school was not happy with the offer. Fraser refers in the Des News piece to a signed document that says that UVSC would work with the team to secure naming rights. Fraser insits that this hasn't happened with the Brent Brown deal.

Adding to the complexity of the issue is the fact that the campus will be hosting yet another professional team come this fall when the Utah Flash, the NBA Developmental League affiliate of the Utah Jazz, will play their home games at the McKay Events Center. Because the arena is a partnership with the county, it is not certain if UVSC will see any revenue from the venture.

UVSC's athletic director Mike "AD for Life" Jacobsen was quick to criticize the school's decision to approve the Flash deal, saying that it make scheduling a nightmare and hurt UVSC athletics. Jacobsen's comments came just days after the team announced their new deal, and word around the campfire was that Flash owner Brandt Andersen was none too pleased.

It wouldn't surprise The Pipeline one bit if the Owlz and the Flash weren't chomping at the bit to get off campus. While that might make a few people like Jacobsen happy now, it is important to remember that the lease agreement with the Owlz helps pay the county bond that purchased the stadium. If there is not a tenant helping to make those bond payments than the remainder will be paid by student fees.

UVSC Board of Trustees shake up

At last week's Board of Trustees meeting a new chair was named and two new members were
welcomed into UVSC's highest governing body.

UVSC names new board of trustees (Deseret Morning News)

Former LDS Church auxiliary president Janette Hales Beckham, who has been on the board since 2004, replaces outgoing chair Dan Campbell (who will remain a Trustee). Fellow board members Karen Acerson and Ron Dallin have completed their terms and were replaced by Steven J. Lund and Terry Shoemaker.

Lund is the second banana at NuSkin, the valley's preeminent multi-level marketing company. Shoemaker is the superintendent of Wasatch Schools.

On Monday the school released the news via their Page One e-mail that goes out to all employees. Here it is:

UVSC welcomed new leadership for its Board of Trustees Wednesday, June 13. Janette Beckham was elected chair of the Board of Trustees, Tim Clark, vice-chair and Doyle Mortimer, secretary. They will form the executive committee of the Trustees. Beckham replaces Dan Campbell as chair. However, Campbell will remain a member of the Trustees. Karen Acerson and Ron Dallin completed their service as Trustees and have been replaced by Steve Lund, vice chairman of the board of directors for NuSkin Enterprises and Terry Shoemaker, superintendent of Wasatch School District.

UVSC Trustees are the College’s governing board, appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate of the State of Utah. They work closely with the UVSC administration. Part of their duties as liaison between the institution, community and Regents include approving the college mission, strategic planning, new degree programs, policies, budgets and honorary degrees. They are also involved in funding raising and alumni relations.

Beckham has been a Trustee since 2004. She served as general young women’s president of the LDS Church for seven and a half years, where she worked with youth and traveled the world. She has been a state Legislator and was also a member of the BYU Board of Trustees for six years. UVSC’s dedication to student success is what first drew Beckham to UVSC. “UVSC is very student centered; everyone is welcome,” said Beckham. “I like that a lot about UVSC,” she continued. “This coming year should be a great one, and I’m excited for my new position!”

Clark is president of TR Clark and Associates, LLC, a consulting and training organization that provides strategy, change management and process improvement services. He has served as a Trustee since 2005, and has been a member of the Trustee Audit Committee. Clark has donated much of his time consulting for UVSC and providing leadership training.

Mortimer is vice president of Alexander’s Printing and has served as a Trustee since 2005. He has been a member of the Utah State Legislature, a board member for the Provo/Orem Chamber of Congress and is on the board for the Utah College of Applied Technology. “We’re moving ahead becoming a university,” Mortimer said. “With this transition, the institution will be able to achieve their goals of greater prestige, increased funding and continued response to the community.”

One error in the above article is that Trustees are not appointed by the governor and appointed by the senate...that is the State Board of Regents.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sederburg gets biggest raise among Utah's college presidents

Next time you see Bill Sederburg he just might have a big ol' grin on his face. That's because yesterday he and the other nine Utah public college presidents received a pay raise. And Big Bill's smile might be particularly wide because of all the raises handed out by the Board of Regents he got the highest percentage, no doubt reflecting the school's move to university status.

For all the details check the story out here:
Utah college presidents getting raises (Deseret Morning News)

Utah college presidents, commissioner to get raises (Daily Herald)

School presidents getting a pay raise (Salt Lake Tribune)

It is nice that UVSC's growth is being recognized and compensated accordingly. Now let's hope that this raise means Sederburg will be making more than Men's Basketball coach Dick Hunsaker.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Naming rights to baseball facility sold, again

It was announced to the media today that a deal selling the naming rights for UVSC's baseball stadium has been made, thus ending years of uncertainty over what exactly to call the facility.

For now it appears that local auto dealer Brent "Bend Over Backwards" Brown will be the one putting up the dough to see his name above the scoreboard. His $1 million (which the Des News article is calling a donation?) will be matched by Arizona philanthropists Ira and Mary Lou Fulton, though their names will not be featured on the facility.

You can read all about it here:

UVSC announces baseball stadium donors (Deseret Morning News)

UPDATE: UVSC stadium gets new name (Daily Herald)

UVSC stadium named Brent Brown Ballpark (Salt Lake Tribune)

Students at UVSC should sleep a little better tonight as this deal will end the two year ordeal as to who would be paying the bill for the stadium. When the county issued the bond a few years back they made UVSC secure funding by putting student fee money up if donors or a naming rights deal fell through.

In 2005 that is exactly what happened. After failing to make two bond payments Craig Pickering, who was at the time the owner of Parkway Crossing apartments, backed out of a $1.7 million naming rights deal with the college. To many of those involved the deal seemed fishy from the start, as Pickering is in-laws with UVSC Athletic Director Mike Jacobsen. When everyone else had cut bait on Pickering it was Jacobsen who still called it Parkway Crossing Stadium.

A 2006 article in The College Times found that the school ended up covering Parkway Crossing's payments for two years while still hoping they would come through. Then college spokesperson Derek Hall said that those payments were made with auxiliary funds and did not come from student fees. Who knows how the 2006 payment was made!

But it appears that Brown and the Fulton's have saved UVSC's bacon. Now if UVSC Athletics could just find a NCAA Div I conference to play in.

Police arrest UVSC student on weapons charges

Acting on a tip by concerned roommates, members of Orem and Provo police departments arrested 20-year-old UVSC student and Ethiopian national Kidus Chane Yohannes and charging him with two felonies-- giving false information on a gun background check and unlawful acquisition and possession of a financial card.

Here are two articles on the story from the local papers:

Does UVSC student pose a gun threat? (Deseret Morning News)

Orem man in trouble for gun purchases (Daily Herald)

Earlier today the following e-mail went out to all campus employees:

Yesterday, Orem Police arrested a UVSC student who is a resident alien because of the proactive nature of his roommates. The roommates were worried about the amount of ammunition Kiddus Chane Yohannes allegedly stockpiled, and his fascination with violent death, particularly by gunfire. He is currently in the Utah County Jail for attempting to illegally purchase assault weapons. He has a history of weapons violations. Kiddus also reportedly has possession of two AK47s that have not been recovered. He has been restricted from campus pursuant to our policy and will have his status as a student reviewed through the Judicial Affairs Office. If Kiddus is located on campus or in public use EXTREME CAUTION as he has a weapons violation history (picture is attached). If you have any questions or concerns contact Vice President Peterson.