Bill Sederburg

At Utah Valley State College, the eye of the storm was a whiteboard in the president's suite.

A three-year timeline and list of names were scrawled across the whiteboard — the strategy for university status.

"We brought everyone in and brainstormed," Bill Sederburg said, adding that legislators such as John Valentine and Greg Curtis were invited to add to the whiteboard. "... It was absolutely impossible for people to refuse to shape the strategy."

UVSC President Sederburg recalled the university status strategy Wednesday when he was honored as "Communicator of the Year" by local chapters of the International Association of Business Communicators and the Public Relations Society of America.

The strategy proved mostly successful. UVSC will become Utah Valley University on July 1, 2008. The Utah Legislature awarded the school $8 million of $10 million it requested in funding for university status.

Sederburg explained two targets of the university status message: internal, such as employees and trustees, and external, such as business leaders and the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

University status was an easy pitch on campus, but Sederburg wanted the message to be consistent.

"You have to all say it the same way and have the same answers," Sederburg said. "Are you going to be a research university or a teaching university? You don't want to have the faculty saying, 'Yeah, We're going to be a research school and we're going to open a medical school."'

UVU will be a regional state university, with an emphasis on teaching over research.

UVSC leaders also met with leaders of Utah's predominant religion.

"We said, 'Oh, let's go to the top,"' Sederburg said. "We met with President Hinckley and the First Presidency. They were kind and in general did not oppose it."

In addition to the whiteboard, UVSC administrators used a commercial for EDS, a business and computer outsourcing company, in which computers were built in midair.

"That was far more significant as a communication (strategy) than anything else we used," Sederburg said. "That is, we're building a university on the fly."

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