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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Matthew Holland smiles as his wife, Paige, shows off her Wolverine green outfit.

OREM — The choice for Utah Valley University's new president came down to three, all with close ties to the school's community, and the State Board of Regents chose Brigham Young University professor Matthew S. Holland to lead it into the future.

"He's going to bring the vibrancy and dynamic growth to the institution that you all deserve," former UVU president and Higher Education Commissioner William A. Sederburg told the crowd gathered to welcome in the new president Friday at UVU's Centre Stage.

Holland will replace interim president Elizabeth Hitch, who has been serving in the position since August, when Sederburg was appointed as commissioner. The new president will assume his duties July 1.

As one of his highest priorities, Holland said, he will initiate a comprehensive capital campaign to raise funds for the young university, saying it would be difficult to advance the school with constricted resources.

"We're going to take the institution to the level of a university," he said. "We're going to be serious about ideas, serious about undergraduate teaching and baccalaureate programs and targeted master's programs that will be a terrific service to this growing state that needs higher education more than ever."

UVU, which serves more than 26,000 students, has experienced many changes over the years, and Holland plans to "put the brakes on things for a while" and focus on strengthening current programs.

"The institution is critical in training our future work force and providing educated citizenry to the growing economy in this area of our state," Regents Chairman Jed Pitcher said. "Dr. Holland will enhance the partnerships that exist between UVU and stakeholders in the community. He will ensure that UVU's students receive a quality educational experience at the state's newest regional university."

Holland was selected from an original pool of 36 applicants, which was narrowed throughout the confidential process by a search committee, which included 16 members. Other finalists for the position included Kim S. Cameron and Jack R. Christianson.

"It's a process that has been tested over time," said Pitcher, who also thanked Hitch for her service during a difficult time to lead, with multiple, and large cuts, made to the school's $61 million-plus budget.

Sederburg said Holland can provide "the energy and future inspiration to propel UVU to bigger and greater things."

The newly named sixth UVU president holds doctorate and master's degrees in political science from Duke University and a bachelor's degree in political science from BYU. He has been a fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University and was the Raoul Wallenberg Scholar at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has had multiple works published and has received various awards and recognitions.

Holland is the son of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The elder Holland also is a former president of BYU.

"What I have had is a lifelong commitment to leadership, to forging vision and to forging collaborating enterprises with people," Matthew Holland said. He and his wife, Paige, have four children and live in Utah County.

"We are absolutely honored and thrilled by this appointment," Holland said. "This institution plays a vital role in a community and state we care about deeply. We look forward to throwing all the energy we have into serving the UVU community well."

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