OREM — A poll conducted to discern the public's opinion about Utah Valley State College uncovered a number of interesting tidbits, but one really struck President William Sederburg — nine people said UVSC had a reputation as a party school.
"Coming from Michigan, I find that interesting," Sederburg said with a wry smile.
The new president found it easy to make jokes because the survey showed 47 percent of respondents said UVSC's general reputation is excellent or very good.
"I think that shows the public's perception of us is quite accurate," Sederburg said.
UVSC remains an unknown in much of the state. The telephone survey contacted 500 people in May and found that 51 percent didn't know the college has shifted from offering only two-year degrees to offering 35 four-year bachelor's degrees. And 24 percent said they didn't know anything about the school.
Most of that unfamiliarity rests with residents of northern Utah, said Ken Foster of Foster & Associates, which conducted the poll. UVSC has a strong presence in Utah Valley, but Foster said improving the knowledge of key constituents throughout the state could help the school.
Sederburg and Foster said that as more students graduate with four-year degrees, the word-of-mouth advertising critical to image awareness will increase.
"So we can expect it to occur naturally to some extent," he said.
Sederburg also said that having a NCAA Division I basketball team will help.
"Sports get 95 percent of the press coverage given to colleges and universities," he said.
For example, he said, UVSC's basketball game against BYU Nov. 29 will be shown on KSL-TV.
One student said UVSC should continue to add four-year programs.
"A lot of students are still being forced to leave after finishing their generals because we don't have all the programs we need," said Claire Burningham, a sophomore from Orem majoring in communications. "People want to stay. I'd like to see more and more four-year degrees."
U.S. News & World Report recently ranked UVSC fourth among public comprehensive colleges in the West.
The U.S. News & World Report ranking placed UVSC between 22nd and 30th overall among comprehensive colleges in the West and fourth among public schools. Comprehensive colleges are institutions that focus on undergraduate education and offer a range of degree programs from liberal arts to professional fields. BYU-Hawaii was ranked sixth.
"This is really a reaffirmation that UVSC is seen as a quality school," Sederburg said. "We don't need to change the image. We don't need to change the reputation. We can go out and build on the positive image that UVSC is affordable, offers a quality education and is accessible — what a great place to start."