During his State of Utah Valley University address Thursday, school president Matthew Holland told faculty, staff and some students he believes the best days of UVU are yet to come.
To get there, however, UVU must go through some lean times.
"As I see it, this university sits in the vortex of a swirling set of forces, some felt by universities everywhere including UVU, others felt at UVU and perhaps a few other schools in a particularly acute way," Holland said.
Holland spoke to five of these forces: growth, the increasing need for education, slow or shrinking economic growth, growth of entitlement programs and the sweeping rise of technology. The fifth is a wild card at this point.
"As the service provider of higher education in this region, this is putting, and will continue to put, immense pressure on the delivery capacity of this institution," Holland said regarding growth. "Heavy responsibilities rest here on all of our public institutions of higher learning, and especially those like UVU with a formal mission of growth and access."
Holland said he appealed to the Legislature for a 250,000-square-foot classroom building. The plea was supported by a study commissioned by the Utah System of Higher Education that showed UVU had the lowest square footage per full-time student of any institution in the state.
"We do call upon our legislative leaders ... to do whatever they possibly can do this year, as the first of a multi-year commitment to redressing UVU's inequities relative to its state and national peers," he said.
In the meantime, the university continues to forge ahead while it waits to hear from the Legislature.
"Our ability to demonstrate not only tremendous need, but also a creative and energetic effort to maximize existing resources is turning heads, especially with our state legislators," Holland said.
Even with growth that is happening faster than the university can handle, the state needs to encourage more adults to obtain higher education.
"To be specific, political leaders left and right, and reputable studies from top notch universities and educational foundations all largely agree that a state like Utah must move from 39 percent of adults with some form of college completion to 66 percent," Holland said.
Faculty and staff across the campus have been asked to engage in discussion about these issues and how the university should respond as it moves ahead.
Among the need for more classrooms and teachers' offices is the need for faculty and staff to have compensation increases, Holland said. They have not had any in the past three years.
"I feel if there is justification for any state employee to get compensation, then UVU should," he said.
Vice president of Academic Affairs Ian Wilson, in referring to Holland's efforts, said, "We are fortunate to have a president with vision."
The vision includes evaluating those things that can be done now and planning for the future. As part of his message Holland announced several projects and initiatives that will be more fully addressed in the coming days.
Among those announced is the University Project for Civic Engagement and the development of the Institute for Professional Engagement.
The newly named Women's Success Center has seen an added mission to encourage women of all backgrounds to engage in and complete academic programs at UVU. One critical issue facing many female students is day care for their children.
To help those women, Holland announced a $1 million fundraising effort for a major expansion of the Wee Care day care center on campus.
Holland also announced The University Project for 2012-14 on Literacy and Numeracy. Since the 30 percent of Utah County children who don't read proficiently by third grade are four times less likely to receive a high school diploma, UVU is uniquely positioned to leverage its collective resources to address these problems, Holland said.
The university will partner with groups like the United Way of Utah County's EveryDay Learners initiative to help young children be prepared.