“There is a place for you at UVU,” so we are assured by President Tuminez in her opinion on Wednesday.

What she fails to mention is that at last year’s growth rate of more than 7%, the head count will reach not only “more than 50,000” by 2028, but 80,000. Admittedly, 2018 might have been a fluke. But, in UVU’s latest Vision 2030, they project a growth rate of 4%, the equivalent for the whole state of Utah. Yet as President Tuminez points out, “Utah County‘s population aged 19-44 is projected grow at nearly four times the rate of any other county in Utah.”

Their Vision 2030 doesn’t begin to contemplate how to deal with that growth rate. If it’s really four times, not just double, the rate of the rest of the state, how will they build buildings fast enough? And where will they put them? And where will all these students live, work and play?

These questions are of great concern to the residents of southwest Orem, and they should be concerning to all of Orem. For a city of 100,000 people to host a student body of 80,000 would seem a hefty load to our apartments, our streets and our first responders. Provo’s Joaquin neighborhood is essentially smothered with BYU’s 30,000. Students in the neighborhood are both good and bad, but it can’t be denied that they have an impact.

Vision 2030 is full of plans, perhaps better considered platitudes in the context of the growth projections. To paraphrase, “Don’t worry, we will develop more on-line and hybrid courses. We will transport the students better by FrontRunner and UVX. We will increase credit for concurrent enrollment classes in the high schools. We will expand our satellite campuses, not just in Lehi and Orem, but in Payson and Saratoga Springs, maybe even Eagle Mountain.”

The congressional panel to evaluate how Utah will deal with expected college student growth, 50,000 per decade for the next four decades, hired an outside firm, the National Center For Higher Education Management Systems, to advise them. Will they have grasped the problem and opportunity this college student growth represents adequately? The report is in, and the hints we have seen in the UVU Vision 2030 plan are not promising.

Watch for the next foot to drop in failing to face this growth estimate head on, indeed in failing to take advantage of this enormous asset for the economy and future of Utah, as we go into the legislative sessions next winter.

— David Busath and Murray Low, Orem

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