By Wendy Rupper
Ten years ago Utah Valley State College created its first bachelor”s degree program. Now officials at the college are working toward expanding the school”s classes and offering its first master”s degree. However, there are a few roadblocks along the way.
“In a recent state poll, we found that only half of the Utah residents were aware UVSC offered four-year degrees,” President Williams Sederburg said in his paper “Organizational Thoughts.” “Twenty-five percent were not aware of UVSC at all.”
As officials at UVSC have recently been focusing on expanding to become university, they want to be viewed as a quality college by the community. Sederburg said they need to work on becoming a well-known college first.
“We need to become a good comprehensive college, and that means getting a full slate of quality four-year degree programs,” Sederburg said.
But, in order to get the programs it needs, UVSC must first go through the State Board of Regents approval process.
Two years ago, the Utah State Board of Regents created a statewide moratorium restricting any new degrees or programs from being passed. This has been an obstacle for the ever-growing UVSC.
“We were adding so many new programs I think the state got a little nervous,” Sederburg said. “It”s really because of the economics. The state didn”t have any money … and if they froze the programs, they could save money.”
After two years of absolute gridlock throughout the state, however, things are starting to change with the moratorium and the economics.
“We have relaxed that standard in the last three to four months,” said George Mantes, vice chairman of the Utah State Board of Regents. “It was appropriate because the budget crises has turned around.”
Now the state is talking about lifting the freeze. Instead of not allowing anything through, they are rethinking the program approval process.
“They”re just making it very difficult to go through, not impossible,” Sederburg said.
The new list of requirements is still stringent.
UVSC must outline their need, labor market demand, student desire, and impact of the new program. The process also assesses the budget and cost of the program throughout the next five years. Then it must be passed by the program review committee consisting of regents chairman Jim Jardine, Pamela Atkinson, Daryl Barrett and George Mantes.
“We have loosened the ties,” Mantes said. “But it hasn”t been set in stone yet.”
Director of College Relations Derek Hall said the school has started to move forward with new programs.
“Two months ago, the board of regents approved four or five new degrees across the state,” Hall said. “Those were the first ones since the moratorium has been in place.”
One of those treasured new degrees went to UVSC.
“We just got a program approved, visual arts and communications,” Sederburg said. “That was the first one to make it through the more relaxed system moratorium.”
This bachelor”s degree will expand the current associate”s programs by adding 3,000 and 4,000 level courses in the arts department starting next spring.
But one new program is not enough for the constantly growth at UVSC.
“We have a whole list of new programs we want to add and should be adding about nine or 10 as soon as the state will let us,” he said.
Within the next year, the college is hoping to get six new bachelor”s degrees approved in the areas of community health, physical education and recreation, communications, computer engineering, dance and music.