The U.S. Department of Education has recognized the Back-to-Industry program at Utah Valley Community College as one of the exemplary Title 3 grant programs in the United States.
College officials recently were invited to Washington to present their program to a National Title 3 Workshop titled "The Quality of Post-secondary Education - Preparing Diverse Learners for the Year 2000."UVCC's program provides opportunities for faculty to spend one to four academic quarters working in business at the kinds of jobs their students eventually will fill.
"The purpose of the program is to give faculty members the proper perspective and experience to pass on to the students they prepare," said J. Karl Worthington, director of UVCC faculty development. "The importance of the use of new equipment, standards of performance and review of the demands of the work environment for faculty members' expertise is easily evident."
College President Kerry D. Romesburg said the program gives faculty a chance to revise their skills and bring added working experience and knowledge to the classroom.
"This is the only program in the country that we know of which is operated on a cooperative basis between businesses and the college that provides an essentially break-even economic picture," Worthington said. "The participating business pays the amount that their regular employees receive or the amount the faculty member would receive if teaching."
Romesburg said both business and faculty benefit from the program. "Our faculty have gained new knowledge, concepts and skills that can be passed on to our students, and in return they have provided new techniques and ideas for the businesses where they have worked," he said.
Worthington said the program motivates faculty members. "I like to describe the whole project as a win-win-win situation for faculty, the college and business. Businesses are reporting that they are getting valuable consulting from faculty members who are training their employees and who are working within the company."
The program was developed in cooperation with an advising committee consisting of five faculty members and one administrator, Geneva Steel Vice President Bud Patton and Lu Arnold, WICAT human resource director.
"We have faculty members who are interested in working in the future with companies such as Mer-vyn's, Valtek, Signetics, Marriott Corp., WordPerfect, city and county governments and many others," Worthington said. "We hope that in three years, 10-15 percent of our faculty is able to participate in the program each year with many cooperating businesses."