In designing a four-year-college model, Utah Valley Community College officials need to balance traditional and innovative approaches to higher education.
And to bring a fresh point of view to the development process, UVCC will employ an independent consultant. It also wants to involve faculty, local legislators and other community leaders in the process. The model will be presented to the state Board of Regents in September."I don't come here with the answer. I come here as a person that hopefully can ask the questions," said consultant Pat Callan, a former higher education commissioner in Montana, Washington and California. He teaches at Stanford University. "The answer has to come from the people here."
Callan said it's time higher-education officials rethink the methods used to meet the demands of those seeking post-high school instruction.
"We need some new, creative approaches," he said. Areas of the country facing an increase in demand on colleges thus far have been conventional and unimaginative in their solutions, he said.
Although Callan says UVCC must come up with a unique plan to provide baccalaureate degrees, it must not damage programs already in place.
Specifically, college President Kerry Romesburg wants to maintain UVCC's vocational mission. Too often, Romesburg said, institutions that move to four-year status allow their community-college roots to slowly wither and die.
"We can't let that happen here. We can't afford it," Romesburg said.
Romesburg and Callan have a list of 17 current college programs that faculty members propose become baccalaureate programs. The president said that list will be pared. He doesn't want the college to become another four-year university.
UVCC also is exploring the possibility of offering baccalaureate degrees that can be earned in three years. Callan said that would ease the enrollment crunch and cost students less to earn a degree.
Regardless of what the school eventually proposes to regents, Romesburg knows it will cost money - mostly for new faculty. He also knows it likely will be viewed with trepidation by the state's other eight higher-education institutions.
Romesburg said he doesn't know the exact cost, but "I can tell you it will be a lot less than people are projecting." Initial estimates were in the $8 million range.
The four-year program at UVCC must be financed in a way that doesn't take money from the other schools, he said. The Legislature ultimately will decide if and how to fund baccalaureate programs at the college.