My view: UVU receives less funding than other state schools

By Greg Butterfield, Doyle Mortimer and Ron Hawkins

Utah Valley University

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 24 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

A recent study commissioned by the Utah State Board of Regents confirmed what we who serve at Utah Valley University have known for a long time: A significant gap exists between the amount of funding UVU receives from the state of Utah compared to funding given Utah's other colleges and universities.

The study reveals that the state funds 40.8 percent of UVU's budget, while funding a median of 50.8 percent of the other state institutions' budgets. In fact, as graphically illustrated below, the next closest institution receives 49.5 percent of its budget from state funding.

As a result, UVU students receive less state tax support and are asked to shoulder a higher percentage of their educational costs than their peers — a purely unintended, but nevertheless real consequence. This inequity threatens the ability of UVU to continue to provide an accessible, quality educational experience to the fastest growing region in the state.

If the funding equity study is not alarming enough, a second study commissioned by the Board of Regents indicates that the amount of space per full-time-equivalent student at UVU is significantly less than at other institutions in the state — 60 percent of the median. This study projects that UVU will need between 750,000 and 1.2 million assignable square feet of new space to accommodate expected growth by the year 2020.

The state of Utah is pursuing a goal of having 66 percent of its adults achieve some type of post-secondary certificate or diploma by the year 2020 (compared to 39 percent currently). In order to reach that target, UVU has been designated as a growth institution and asked to maintain an open admissions policy. With this goal and Utah County's growth, UVU is facing an impending tsunami. University faculty, staff and administrators continue to aggressively implement efficiencies, such as online, evening and weekend courses. However, those efficiencies alone cannot solve this urgent problem.

Last fall semester, 1,700 students who attempted to enroll at UVU were unable to get into the classes they needed and simply could not attend. This is unacceptable at a time when business and industry in the county and state need an increasing number of citizens with post-secondary degrees. Without more resources for additional faculty, staff and infrastructure, UVU will be forced to alter its open-access mission or dilute quality.

As now the state's largest university, educating more Utah residents and having more of its graduates stay in Utah than any other university, any deviation from access or quality will have rippling effects on Utah's future economic and social well-being.

With the facts so clearly showing UVU's urgent funding and space needs, we ask our legislators and citizens to lead out in sharing this message to solve these "equity" problems now and ensure quality higher education opportunities today and in the future. We further ask legislators to make reasonable adjustments — not all at once, but at least consistent steps — toward equity in funding and space utilization.

A recent study commissioned by the Utah State Board of Regents confirmed what we who serve at Utah Valley University have known for a long time: A significant gap exists between the amount of funding UVU receives from the state of Utah compared to funding given Utah's other colleges and universities.

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