Each of Utah's major population areas is served by a four-year university: Utah State University serves the northern region; Weber State College serves the Ogden area, the University of Utah serves the Salt Lake area and Southern Utah State College serves southern Utah.
But does Brigham Young University serve central Utah? Utah Valley Community College officials think not, and they hope the day will come when UVCC is converted to an upper-level institution."Part of our mission is to meet the community's needs, and becoming a four-year institution would be responding to the community's needs," UVCC President Kerry Romesburg said.
Although UVCC officials are not currently pushing to become a four-year institution, they soon will be. Romesburg said the need is there and the State Board of Regents should explore the issue. But the expansion depends on whether funding is available.
Romesburg said with its enrollment limits and its national and international student base, BYU no longer isthe university serving Utah Valley. He said the most reliable statistic for predicting UVCC's growth is the number of local high school seniors accepted at BYU.
Currently, only about 11 percent of local high school seniors are accepted at BYU each year. However, that percentage should decline as the number of local high school graduates increases while the number of local freshman accepted at BYU remains stable.
Romesburg said another factor indicating a need for UVCC to become a four-year college is its increasing number of general-education students. Five years ago only about 30 percent of UVCC's students were general-education students. Now more than half are general-education students planning to transfer to another institution - most to BYU. But BYU only accepts about 300 UVCC students each year.
So what will happen to the rest? "Unfortunately they're going nowhere," Romesburg said.
Actually, most will end up completing their upper-level education elsewhere. Romesburg said Utah Valley is the state's second most populous area and provides a substantial portion of the state's education tax dollars, yet its citizens have to go somewhere else to complete their education.
"We should be getting more of a return of our tax dollar," he said.
Many of UVCC's students are older, have jobs and families. Romesburg said local students should have an option other than quitting their job and moving.
4 years or 2?
Utah County citizens' attitude toward UVCC becoming a four-year institution.
Strongly favor - 46 percent.
Somewhat favor - 24 percent.
Somewhat oppose - 11 percent.
Strongly oppose - 9 percent.
Don't know - 10 percent.
Source: Geneva Steel survey conducted by Dan Jones and Associates.