Inauguration ceremonies are set this week for Utah Valley University’s newest president, Astrid Tuminez. It seems a bit odd because Tuminez has been on the job for six months, but Wednesday’s sold-out event is a good opportunity to look back and celebrate what Tuminez has accomplished so far and what campus leadership plans ahead.
The inauguration ceremony itself is part of a “Week of Dreams,” marking six days of celebrations and performances primarily at the university’s new Noorda Cetner for the Performing Arts. The ribbon-cutting for the new venue kicks off the whole week, which includes appearances by actors Jason Alexander and Terry Crews and Broadway star Sierra Boggess.
The university’s foray into the performing arts is another example of the school’s development into a well-rounded, four-year university with a lot to offer for students from all walks of life. Other examples include UVU’s increasingly strong performances in sports, including appearances in the NCAA wrestling championships and the men’s basketball team’s postseason run.
Of course, these accomplishments are the fruits of the hard work put in by past and current leaders, including former President Matthew Holland, and the thousands of educators, staff members and students who have helped transform UVU into the institution it is today.
After meeting with Tuminez last week, we’re excited that she will keep UVU on a positive path toward providing valuable educational opportunities at a variety of academic levels for the ballooning Utah Valley population. As she put it, the UVU story continues to be both growth and student success.
She provided some highlights from the recently concluded legislative session. Tuminez was grateful to lawmakers, who allocated additional funding for higher education. That means that UVU students will likely see a lower-than-expected tuition increase. The Legislature also allocated half of the money needed for the new Woodbury School of Business building to be situated at the main campus entrance. UVU’s business school is one of the most popular in the state — educating about 25 percent of business students in the state.
UVU has come a long way since its roots as a vocational school 76 years ago. Tuminez noted that its fall enrollment is roughly the size of Pleasant Grove and the university accounts for most of the growth in the Utah public higher education system.
Tuminez underscored the importance of carefully marshaling resources to handle the growth. UVU is working on its main campus, but it is also working at its satellite campuses scattered throughout Utah Valley in addition to online resources. The president was also excited about new partnerships — with Silicon Slopes for a new MBA program and the collaboration with MTEC to offer a better mix of resources for students.
Under Tuminez, UVU appears ready to embody the American ideal of keeping the halls of higher education as open as possible. As she told us, UVU welcomes many from all walks of life as 38 percent of students are first-generation students and 18.1 percent are students of color. The vast majority of students — 77 percent — are working, while about 27 percent are working full-time.
Tuminez’s enthusiasm and dedication appear to serve UVU well. She’s also a welcome addition to the pantheon of leaders in Utah Valley. During the recent Pillar of the Valley event, we noticed that she was the few women or persons of color on the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce’s board. No offense to the other members, but we feel that her presence is a positive sign for women and others that they can reach for excellence and take a leadership role in the community.
When Tuminez delivers her inaugural speech Wednesday, she’s expected to emphasize the three elements to student success at UVU — include, achieve and engage. If she, and the rest of the university, can deliver on those elements, UVU will be on a strong path to continue helping students and the larger community.