It could be a cold day in, well, Orem, for a Utah County legislator if his prediction about a report on Utah Valley Community College is incorrect.
Rep. Norm Nielsen, R-Orem, doesn't think a recently formed higher education study committee will favor converting UVCC to a four-year institution. "I hope I'm wrong," he said.If he is, Nielsen said he will stand on State Street in front of University Mall in his pajamas holding a sign reading "I was wrong." Nielsen put himself and his jammies on the line during a raucous student rally at the college Friday.
Needless to say, the first-year legislator doesn't have much confidence in the group selected by Commissioner of Higher Education Wm. Rolfe Kerr. "It think the deck's stacked," Nielsen said.
The 1991 Legislature requested by resolution that the State Board of Regents form a committee to study the feasibility and costs of converting the two-year school to a four-year institution.
Committee members include regents Cliff LeFevre, Paul Rogers and Fred Stringham, Weber State University President Paul Thompson, Utah State University Provost Karen Morse and UVCC President Kerry Romesburg. Three or four staff members from the commissioner's office - including Cecelia Foxley, associate commissioner for academics - will also serve. The committee's findings are due to the Legislature before the 1992 session.
An advisory committee made up of legislators will also be formed.
"Looking at that membership, I clearly wouldn't see that as stacking it," Foxley said. "I think the regents have been careful not to have a preconceived idea without gathering the information."
In February, the regents formally opposed legislation that would have forced them to prepare a 1993-94 operating budget for UVCC as a four-year school, calling it premature and too costly.
Nielsen said the matter "deserves objective analysis from people outside the state who are in no way invested in the issue." He called on the regents to form an independent committee.
Foxley said the issue will be "looked at and looked at objectively."
After hearing Nielsen's comments Friday, UVCC students have little faith in the committee.
"How can 14 people on a committee decide what the public wants?" said Ken Patey, student body president.
Amid chants of "four-year, four-year," students presented Nielsen petitions with more than 8,000 signatures calling for UVCC to become a four-year college. The names were gathered on campus, in the community and at county high schools the past 10 days.
A date for the committee's first meeting has yet to be set.