For 75 years, UVU has evolved and engaged, transitioned from “the tech” to “high-tech,” and garnered accolades and an academic reputation. Now with the largest student body in the state, Utah Valley University is putting the cap and tassel on the face of education in our community.
Happy 75th birthday, UVU! Here are 75 reasons you’ve got the green light from Utah Valley Magazine (even though some readers still think we’re your official campus publication).
1. Let’s get down to business
UVU’s Business Resource Center houses the state’s No. 1 small business development center. In addition, the Vivint SMARTLab helps businesses with cutting-edge technology, including eye-tracking to measure advertising, package design and usability. The center also tests galvanic skin response with EEG technologies that pinpoint reactions to marketing stimuli. UVU is also one of the first Utah schools to offer a bachelor’s in sales. Bottom line? This campus is so totally in business.
2. First and Second
UVU has coined the phrase and lived up to the distinction of being “The place of first choices and second chances.” Being an inclusive and serious academic institution may seem like dichotomous forces, but UVU uses the tension between the two to find opportunities for growth and progress — both for students and faculty alike. The tug-and-pull of open admission and world-class education is part of the secret success sauce for the largest undergraduate student body in the state.
3. TED over Heels
TEDxUVU brought in more than 1,000 attendees in 2015, with live speakers stepping out on the red circle to share their expertise on design, entertainment, relationships, discoveries and technology. The inaugural event was conceived and hosted by UVU students. Future TEDxUVU events are in the works.
4. Gooooooo Team!
Seven years ago, UVU completed its jump from junior college athletic competition to Division-1 NCAA. In the Wolverines’ first two years of WAC competition, they’ve won 8 championships.
5. Curtain Call
UVU’s theater program fills stage after black-floored stage with talent and creativity, despite having subpar facilities (which is about to change!). The university’s summer partnership with Sundance puts thousands of theater-goers in seats. This year’s sold-out ticket was “The Music Man,” produced and directed by the UVU theater department and Sundance.
6. UVU 500
The UVU racing team has set five world land-speed records with a 1969 El Camino built by automotive students. At a top racing speed of 180 mph (they hit 190 in practice), this student-built car is one of the fastest set of wheels to grace the Bonneville Salt Flats.
7. First and Foremost
More than 36 percent of UVU students are first-generation college-goers, and the school meets these students where they are to enhance completion rates. Structured enrollment keeps students out of “the deep end” of academia until positioned for success.
8. One word: Diversity
UVU is the largest provider of higher education for Latino students out of all four-year schools in Utah — and the Orem campus was one of six institutions in the nation honored for improving Latino student success. More proof? There’s been a 161 percent increase of Latino graduates in the past five years at UVU. In addition to the Latino outreach, UVU hosts the Governor’s Native American Summit and has earned a reputation as the go-to school for American Indian students. Pacific Islanders are also finding their home at UVU through the Cultural Envoy Dance Program, Moana Nui education conferences and other outreach initiatives.
9. Big 12. Yep. Already in!
UVU’s wrestling program joined the Big 12 Conference this past year, which puts UVU’s wrestling singlets in elite competition.
Perhaps the most iconic image of UVU (and UVSC before that) is the Hall of Flags, which represents the countries of international students who have earned their education at the Orem campus. Not only does the window-lined hallway reflect the diversity of the student body, but it also acts as a social corridor, an ideal place for “people watching” and as a runway of current fashion.
11. Roots and Glass Branches
Although this list touts 75 reasons to love UVU right now, perhaps its No. 1 worldwide distinction hasn’t even had its grand opening yet. Roots of Knowledge will officially be unveiled November 18 at 1:30 p.m., with 80 panels of densely storyboarded visuals of the history of knowledge in the world.
Highland’s Tom Holdman conceived this project 12 years ago and has had hundreds of glass artists — including 350 UVU students — involved with the project, which will stand 10 feet tall and 200 feet long when installed. The wall faces west in the annex of the UVU library. The glass will be lit at night and visible from I-15. Award-winning filmmaker Lee Groberg is producing a docudrama about this one-of-a-kind (major understatement) piece of art, and the four-part show will air on PBS. Faculty members across disciplines have served as consultants on the project.
An app is in the works to bring viewers inside the glass art to learn more about each inch of the glass, which includes many depictions of the origins of knowledge.
12. Have a Ball
The President’s Scholarship Ball each October is the premier social event in Utah County. With a pre-dinner “who’s who” reception serving student-made hors d’oeuvres followed by a six-course meal, this black-tie ball fills the UCCU Center and ends with dancing to a live band. UVU’s award-winning performers grace the stage throughout the evening in full costume and full smiles.
13. Spectrum of Services
President Matt Holland has said that UVU can lead the country in terms of how to respond to autism. The Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism is currently under construction and will be a resource for students, parents, grandparents and employers on how to productively engage those with autism. In addition, UVU offers a minor in Autism Studies.
14. This One’s For the Girls
Under the direction of Dr. Susan Madsen, UVU has become the voice and the venue to share data and to work toward greater results for women in education. Susan and her team are, in fact, changing the entire conversation. It’s not enough to encourage young women to GO to college, UVU wants women to complete their college education. Her research and lecture series address the gaps we find in women in leadership, politics and entrepreneurism in our state.
15. Enter to Learn, Stay Forth to Work
A UVU diploma doesn’t double as a plane ticket beyond state borders. In fact, eight out of 10 Wolverine grads stay in Utah after wearing their cap and gown. Translation? UVU is educating tomorrow’s workforce along the Wasatch Front.
16. Women Front and Center
The Women’s Success Center is committed to helping women complete their education. With scholarships, support, coaching and mentoring, UVU’s female students have the resources they need to graduate and utilize their degrees in the workforce, in their families and throughout their lives as well-informed community members.
17. Never Too Many Chefs in the Kitchen
One of the best-tasted secrets of UVU is its culinary prowess. A team of four culinary students won first place at the American Culinary Federation’s annual Knowledge Bowl this past summer. Michelle Stephenson, an individual competitor from UVU, won Student Chef of the Year at the same event. The culinary program continues to serve the community with trained chefs, which has elevated the Utah County dining scene from “nothing to write home about” to “I must leave Salt Lake and come south around the Point of the Mountain to find beautiful food.” Truly, UVU has changed more than its own reputation in the past 75 years.
18. Home Sweet Wolverine Home
After building nine Cougar houses with BYU, the Utah Valley Home Builders Association “went green” and built the first Wolverine House for this year’s Parade of Homes in cooperation with UVU. Money raised from the sale of the new home goes to UVU scholarship funds. #solidfoundation
19. It’s So Delicious
UVU is known for its culinary program but also for its culinary options. On-campus eateries include Jamba Juice, Cupbop, Taco Bell, Fishbone Sushi, and … wait for it … Sodalicious! With its signature cookies and “dirty sodas,” this community staple is yet another reason to love UVU and its accompanying sugar rush.
20. Staying Current
UVU partners with Utah County Academy of Sciences to offer concurrent enrollment for high school students. In fact, UCAS is located on campus, which means the valley’s teenagers can earn a STEM education alongside college students. More than 80 percent of UCAS students graduate with an associate’s degree. Hypothesis? Silicon Slopes will have computer scientists and programmers to hire for decades to come.
With Coach Mark Pope at the clipboard, UVU’s men’s basketball team has its eye on the Big Dance. And soon the Nuvi Basketball Center will give them a wooden floor to call their own.
22. Face Value
Four bachelor’s degree programs at UVU have been ranked in the top 15 by AffordableSchools.net. What’s even a better deal? UVU’s networking/network administration degree and web design and development degree both ranked first in their categories. The National Council on Teacher Quality dubbed UVU’s School of Education as being a top 25 in the “Best Value” colleges of education. At $2,420 a semester for in-state tuition (compared with $2,650 for LDS tuition at BYU), value might just be UVU’s middle name.
23. From Point to Payson
UVU is taking the “valley” part of their name seriously. The university owns 225 acres in Vineyard and recently purchased 30 acres in Payson, which bookends the 10 acres UVU owns in the Thanksgiving Point area in Lehi. UVU currently offers classes at Adobe, IMFlash and Xactware, to name a few. Through a distance education experience, Eagle Mountain is home to a classroom. The valley is truly UVU’s campus.
24. Responsible Citizens
UVU is home to sculptor Gary Price’s 15-foot prototype of the Statue of Responsibility. Gary engaged students and faculty in the process of preparing the clay version of his design, which will anchor the West Coast as a “bookend” to the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast. Gary’s depiction of two hands gripping the forearm of each other is inspired by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl and his book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Engaged learning, engaged hands.
25. Set of Pipes
Earlier in the school’s timeline, the pipes were exposed in the ceiling and throughout buildings to teach the “trade tech” students about heating and air conditioning — the building itself part of the educational experience. Now this rainbow is a design element and cylindric shoutout to the school’s past.
Coolest. Name. Ever. And UVUPhoria just happens to be the moniker of a super cool event, which celebrates UVU’s birthday. On September 23, the community can skidaddle on over to an outdoor concert for the price of $19.41 (year UVU was founded), or spring for a $75 VIP ticket, complete with swag bag. The three-act evening includes Jason Derulo, American Authors and Rachel Platten. Complete UVUPhoria!
27. State of the Arts
UVU has appealed to the community and the state legislature alike to build a much-needed, much-crooned-about arts building. The stars have aligned to give the UVU stars a stage to match their brilliance. The 140,000-square-foot building will break ground this winter and give a home to the 1,500 arts majors and 8,000 students who take at least one arts class each semester. Bonus! The state-of-the-arts facility will serve as our local performance venue for the Utah Symphony.
28. Thanks, Veterans!
Everyone loves and appreciates veterans. But UVU put its love into action by creating the Veteran Success Center, which is a literal and figurative gathering place for veterans where they study together, socialize and get information about the veteran affairs education programs available through the university.
29. Take It Personally
Out of 7,000 applicants, TD Ameritrade chose 12 students nationwide for scholarships and four are from UVU. These students had breakfast with the president of TD Ameritrade and rang the NASDAQ closing bell in July. The Personal Financial Planning program has quickly garnered a top 10 reputation for graduating sharp students, and the program has a 100 percent track record of students finding competitive employment in their field after graduation.
30. By Degrees
While we were compiling this list, the Utah Board of Regents approved five new master’s degrees at UVU:
Master of Science in Cybersecurity, Master of Pubic Service, Master of Social Work, Master of Accountancy and Master of Computer Science. Not your grandfather’s “trade tech,” ya hear? (Master’s degrees are still pending accreditation approval.)
31. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Business Forum
UVU’s annual Business & Economic Forum is an annual educational and networking powwow, with lunch catered by UVU’s Culinary Arts. Attendees earn continuing education credits, and President Matt Holland presents prestigious awards to business greats in the valley. The 2017 event is set for May 18, 2017, with Hyrum W. Smith as keynote speaker.
32. Futbol in the House
UVU’s men’s soccer team touts the 12th top recruiting class in the country — and the team is ranked 16th nationally as we go to press. The team also puts numbers up in terms of attendance, as they lead the WAC in fan numbers — and are in the top tier of turnout for all of the NCAA. (And this distinction comes even with Sunday play, where the UVU crowd is dramatically smaller than other days of the week).
33. Free Climbing Wall. FREE!
UVU promotes the pursuit of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. And this ain’t just fine print. Wolverines taking 10 credits or more get a membership (paid with student fees) to the Student Life & Wellness Building, including the colorful climbing wall bathed in natural light from surrounding windows. Belay on!
34. The View
In addition to expanding viewpoints of students, faculty and community members, UVU simply has a great view. Like for reals. This outlook from the bridge hallway near the Gunther Trades Building offers a quaint view of a path through campus and also the expansive Utah Lake. This window-lined hallway is dotted with first-come, first-served desks where students study while overlooking the UVU kingdom.
35. Smart Cookie
An informal Facebook survey about favorite UVU attributes yielded dozens of green-without-envy responses, including: “The vending machines by the west doors of the Student Life building are the best because they never run out of Granny B cookies.” Our informal photo tour of campus found this statement to be true. (Let’s place this in the category of, “It’s a hard job, but somebody had to do it.”)
36. Now Showing
The summer is quieter on UVU’s campus, but not in the Pope Science Courtyard, where summer movies are played on a big screen. Social media reveals which movie will hit the screen each week. All school and no play make Johnny a dull UVU student.
37. Bridge the Gap
One reason to love UVU is still in the planning stages. A much-anticipated covered pedestrian bridge from the UTA Frontrunner stop (west side of I-15) to the main Orem campus will serve as an iconic archway over the freeway welcoming students and community-goers alike to UVU territory. Bonus! This pedestrian access will improve parking and traffic around the UVU footprint. Bonus No. 2! FitBit wearers will hit their daily goals on the regular.
38. One Year, One MBA
The Woodbury School of Business touts two MBA options — a full-time accelerated version during one curriculum-packed year (with tracks in accounting or management). The part-time, professional track allows students to earn an MBA in two years while “keeping their day jobs.”
39. Paige Holland. Period.
The First Lady of UVU is the most visible volunteer on campus. Each spring, Paige Holland hosts a formal luncheon for those interested in helping more women attend college and complete a degree. She is a true partner on and off campus with Matt, as they raise four children just paces away from UVU.
40. Matt Holland. Period.
Whether it’s his humor, his laugh, his love of Abraham Lincoln or his visionary work ethic, Matt Holland has won everyone over since UVU said “Welcome to Holland” in 2009. He’s known for elevator conversations with students, remembering names of staff members and being a true community partner.
41. An Inside Job
UVU’s architecture also doubles as its culture. The connected buildings create a climate-controlled, socially active, academically connected environment between disciplines.
42. Back and Forth
The pendulum in the Pope Science Building measures time and patience as passersby hope to see a peg get knocked over before they walk past.
43. Green is Always in Style
Along a mountain range that has traditionally been red vs. blue (with heat and jabs thrown from both sides), green is a happy middle ground. Can’t we all just agree on green?
44. Please Continue
UVU lands in the community’s mailboxes multiple times per year via the Continuing Education catalog. With robotic workshops for kids, adult classes on computers, and travel workshops for one and all, UVU is for you. And you. And you.
45. Wanna Swap?
Through the Career Development Center, UVU is one of 200 universities in the U.S. and Canada to offer the National Student Exchange, which allows undergraduate students to study for up to one calendar year at another NSE university and pay in-state tuition. This gives students a chance to customize their degree plan by seeking out expertise on other campuses. (And you thought exchange students only came around in high school!)
46. Ticket Stub: UCCU Center
UVU isn’t stingy with its square footage. The UCCU Events Center (previously the David O. McKay Events Center) hosts high school graduations, conferences, seminars, donkey basketball games (true story), and expos. Top performers who have hung out backstage include Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, Idina Menzel, Paramore and more. UVU is the place.
47. I See I-15
With its proximity to I-15 — and its own on-ramp from campus — UVU is at the heart of the county’s transportation patterns. This natural “billboard” keeps UVU top of mind for drivers as they traverse the interstate on their daily journey.
48. UVU Swag
With the interconnected hallways and the generosity of campus departments and private enterprise, there’s always something free being handed out at UVU. Cupcakes. T-shirts. Sodas. Whistles. And swag with a price tag is available at the UVU Bookstore, with cutting edge T-shirt designs and other branded products.
49. Wee Care, We Really Do
One of the barriers to women completing their education is childcare. So in UVU fashion, the school and community nimbly worked toward a solution. An existing but inadequate on-campus daycare was replaced with the new, inviting Wee Care Center, largely made possible by one of UVU’s biggest fans — Barbara Barrington Jones. The center offers priority enrollment for children of UVU students in need. The facility includes several classrooms, kitchen, two playgrounds and a lot of love.
50. Interfaith Worship Center
As part of UVU’s commitment to its Interreligious Initiative, the Reflection Center (in the Student Life & Wellness Building) provides space for meditation, prayer, reflection and religious expression. In addition, UVU has a Interfaith Student Council to unite organizations such as the UVU Pagan Association and the Hindu Club.
51. Church and State
The Orem LDS Institute is nestled on UVU’s campus and serves a high percent of the student body with classes, dances, activities and food. Plus! Institute students can get $5 parking passes. Blessings! Blessings! Immediate blessings!
52. Keep the Piece
UVU has never been smaller – or larger — than in a 500-piece puzzle, painted by local art legend Eric Dowdle. The 75th anniversary depiction highlights the quirks and the works of the Wolverines. The UVU Bookstore sells the puzzle for $19.41 (the year the school was founded.)
UVU offers electric vehicle charging stations on campus, which gives students who are green in more than one way an option for protecting the environment. Carbon footprint? Smaller than it used to be.
54. Group’s On!
The UVU library touts 26 group study rooms that seat 2-4 students and two large group study rooms for 2-10 students. There are even family study facilities in the house. The rooms can be reserved up to four days in advance and for periods of up to four hours. With this perk, there’s no excuse for a “group project gone wrong”!
55. Take Me Out to the Ballgame
The most geographically visible sports facility in town is the Brent Brown Ballpark, home to Orem Owlz and UVU’s baseball team. The mostly shaded seats hold 5,000, and the on-site playgrounds are a hit with fans who have short legs and short attention spans.
56. School is Fun
Classroom time is serious business, but that doesn’t mean it’s all head-down, books-open around these parts. Hallway Spikeball, ukulele jams and giant Jenga and oversized Legos are all regular scenes between classes and between buildings. Related question: When will the WAC start competitive Spikeball?
57. Clean Bathrooms
The 75-year-old concrete campus has some rooftops that are newer than others, but the school’s focus on cleanliness and excellence has the stalls looking brand-spankin’ new. And that’s definitely a reason to love UVU.
58. Teachers as Students
UVU’s faculty sets the pace for learning. Seven of the music faculty members hold degrees from Juilliard. And in the past five years, UVU has added 17 full-time faculty with doctoral degrees.
59. Dance Off
UVU’s got moves and grooves. Exhibit A: In 2015, the highly touted Ballroom Dance Tour Team won the British Ballroom Formation Dancing competition at a prestigious dance competition in England.
60. USA! USA!
UVU has placed first or second nationally in SkillsUSA for 15+ years. SkillsUSA prepares students for public, career, and technical programs. It provides experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship, and character development. SkillsUSA also promotes understanding of the free-enterprise system and involvement in community service. Translation? Yeah, they’ve got skillz.
61. This School is on Fire
The Recruit Candidate Academy isn’t just for perfect photo ops — although, there is that. RCA has graduated more than 1,000 candidates who are ready to fight flames. During their program at UVU, students participate in fighting more than 40 fires as part of their academy experience.
62. Spiffy McSpifferson
UVU’s Culinary Arts students can be identified by their work ethic and commitment to excellence. But an even easier way to recognize them is by their spiffy white uniforms. The wearing of the logoed white coat is a privilege with high (and tasty) expectations.
63. Guess Who’s Engaged?
Utah County might be known as the wedding capital of the world, but it’s the engagement at UVU that has 33,000+ students saying “I do.” The focus on real-life learning brings professors from their industries who come back to the classroom to give back. Community partners reach out to UVU for interns, employees and seminars. Students are topping charts academically.
64. Pick this STEM
The Women’s Tech Council launched SheTech at UVU with 1,200 high school girls in attendance this summer. With classes like, “It’s Your Body, What Do You Know About It?” and “Nothing Fits Better Than a Perfect Pair of Genes,” the young women came away informed and excited about career possibilities traditionally seen as more masculine. (UVU repeatedly laughs in the face of tradition. But kindly …)
65. Vandelay Industries
While George Costanza invented his career to impress his friends, there’s nothing fictional about his love for UVU. This Seinfeld character — whose real name is Jason Alexander — has made multiple visits to campus to speak on theater, human relationships and life. Not that there’s anything wrong with that …
66. Unlimited Servings
The Volunteer & Service-Learning Center lifts students so they can lift others. UVU’s Service Council is passionate about being the change these students want to see in the world by volunteering, leading and building awareness about issues in our community.
67. All Aboard!
UVU is the only university in the state to invest in students in the Heber Valley area. Choo! Choo! The Wasatch Campus offers a bachelor’s in elementary education and three associate degrees (behavioral science, business management, university studies).
68. We the People
The Center for Constitutional Studies puts our country’s fine print in focus with one of the top undergraduate constitutional studies programs in the nation. In order to form a more perfect program, the center brings in distinguished speakers and hosts events such as 2016 Constitution Week Conference, slated for Sept. 15. Students get practical experiences through legislative, congressional and legal internships.
69. It’s No Crime
More than half of all Utah County police officer positions are filled with UVU grads from the state-certified satellite police academy. Students get hands-on training in a $1.4-million, fully-equipped forensic laboratory.
70. How Ya Feeling’?
UVU runs a healthy nursing program, with associate, bachelor’s and master’s programs charting the future of Utah County’s medical services. For those who narrow their medical interest on the teeth, UVU’s dental hygiene program offers a competitive associate and bachelor’s program.
71. Green in the Face
The Green Man Group is a drum line that gets crowds on their feet at campus events as well as outside the UVU footprint. Clint Pulver, creator of GMG, is a motivational speaker and actor (think “Saturday’s Warrior”). He and his green suit graced the cover of Utah Valley Magazine in 2012 (without the traditional green face covering … for obvious reasons).
72. Go to Where the Puck is
UVU’s hockey club team has been accepted into the Mountain West Collegiate Hockey League. The Wolverines train at The Peaks and bring ice-cold excitement to fans in green.
73. When You’re Healthy, You’re Happy
UVU looks at the student experience as part of an overall life experience. With a focus on health, the campus is dotted with call-outs for healthy living — including this healthy food demonstration we stumbled upon in the Student Life & Wellness Building just outside the rock wall where we were taking pictures for this feature.
74. CAL Pals
The Center for Advancement of Leadership brings out the inner-leader in UVU students. CAL, the largest university leadership program in the nation, also promotes another acronym: LEAD (learn, engage, acquire, discover). A one- or two-year certification program focuses on those four key areas. Follow the leaders!
75. So They Think They Can Dance? Yes, ma’am.
UVU keeps things moving with the NDA 2014 National Championship Title in Division 1 Open Dance. That same year, they participated on the hit show “America’s Got Talent.” High schoolers in tights and tight buns (hair, we’re talking) flock to UVU annually for the UHSAA State Drill Team competition. Let’s dance!