UVU: Faculty Convocation 2016

(soft instrumental music) – Welcome back! It’s and exhilarating time of year. I think every year since I started school in Kensington, California back in 1957, it has been, fall has been exhilarating. Going back to school
has been exhilarating. I have to admit that sometimes
it only lasted a week or two before the realities of
school made it less exciting but it’s always still exciting and I welcome you back to all of that. I want to first of all, thank all of you for the
great work that you do. I continue to ask students and alumni and parents of students and alumni about their experience at UVU and almost always, the
answer I still, you know, I love it or I loved it or they loved it. It’s a remarkably positive response and I still ask employers of our students about their experience and the answers still are very positive, that they really love our graduates, that they just want more of them. So really grateful to all of you for that. By the way, one other
expression of appreciation, I wanna thank Scott Cooksey
and the Development Office for the breakfast this morning, thank you. (applause) Don’t want to forget that, thank you. And Cam Martin and the office
of Marquee Communication for the cake you will have
later, the 75th birthday cake that you’ll be able to enjoy. So anyhow, I mean, that is
really a remarkable thing and you see up here,
my one slide for today is this map and it’s a map of Utah, Wasatch and Summit Counties and it’s on the wall of my office and I have it there to
remind me of my mission. That our mission is to
address the educational needs of the people within our service area and others who come to UVU and it’s a wonderful mission and it’s inspiring mission. We have the opportunity
really, to transform lives, to make such a difference. It has never been more important that we, that people have a
post-secondary education. You hear me say that all the time and I will keep saying it all the time. Because it’s something I think about and I think we all need to think about, it’s just never been more important. It’s very hard for
somebody to make a living, to provide for themselves, their family, to contribute to community, if they don’t have
education beyond high-school and the outcomes that
come from that education are improved, even with
additional education. There’s extensive research, surveys by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, surveys by the Census Bureau, surveys by the Division
of Workforce Services of the State of Utah, research by academics in a
variety of different fields, all underscore what a difference it makes. It makes a difference in
the quality of their lives, and also in their economic outcomes and economic outcomes alone, their incomes go up with
the level of education, unemployment goes down,
incarceration goes down. All kinds of social problems go down. Commitment to the society goes up, tolerance for the most part, goes up. It’s really quite remarkable, the kind of transformation that occurs from what we’re doing and yet, still too many people
within our service area haven’t taken advantage of
this and too many who want to, have obstacles that are in their way. And there’s some things that you are doing as faculty members that are just amazing in
helping students to succeed in the way that they need to do so and also making an education
more available to them and I can’t thank you enough for that. There are faculty initiatives
going on all over campus that are quite remarkable this way. Let me give you just a couple of examples. One of them is that the
faculty in our math department and developmental math and some other faculty members on campus have been working very very diligently to try to help students not only overcome the obstacle of quantitative
literacy to their graduation, which is the biggest single
obstacle, curricular obstacle, but also to help students to be able to use math in their lives and we don’t have a math requirement or quantitative literacy requirement just to have additional
hoop for people to jump. The purpose of it is to
help them to be able to use those analytical skills and
capacities in their lives and of course to prepare them
for additional opportunities and it’s an amazing effort that’s going on and they’re making progress
in some wonderful ways. We have a group who’s also working on the same thing for composition. Helping students prepare to write. That there’s no more important thing than our ability to write and communicate and have the various literacies that are associated with that. That’s a wonderful thing that’s going on. They can also help
students not only complete, but succeed after they leave
UVU and I could go on and on. There are faculty members who are helping students
do extraordinary things so that they compete with
the best in the nation in a wide variety of areas
which is really remarkable, especially for a regional university, it’s remarkable for any university but especially for a regional university. And they’re making pretty
remarkable successes, efforts to be able to help
students achieve that success. That’s an amazing thing. There are faculty members who are intentionally
scheduling themselves at times that are inconvenient for them in order to make it more
convenient and even possible for their students to be able to take the courses they need to
take to be able to graduate. There are faculty members who are asking that their
courses be canceled, when they have small enrollments
because they realize that the single biggest obstacle
to completion is financial and that anything we do to help make our education more affordable helps students in our service area and others who come here,
to be able to succeed. I want to mention just a few things that are within your control
to help with student success, we often don’t necessarily think about. Obviously, the most obvious one is the quality of our teaching and mentoring. We do a great job but there are, with the development of technology, with research on pedagogy, there continue to be more and more effective ways of teaching and as I mentioned yesterday
to the new faculty, most of us want to teach
the way we were taught. That’s the way we are
comfortable doing it. That’s what we take for granted. And I really encourage you
to be skeptical about that as you would with any received knowledge, be skeptical about it. We have a really good Office
of Teaching and Learning we’ve created to help you to
think about your teaching, to explore new ways, to
use some of the tools. For example, asynchronous
learning pedagogies can be used to make many
things we do, more effective. That’s knowing how to
use online, asynchronous methods to help students learn even in a face to face class,
most of the students’ time is spent studying outside of classroom. We expect two to three hours
outside for every hour inside. That’s time that can be
used more effectively if there are really good
asynchronous learning pedagogies that are guiding and
directing the students during that time. Internships. Normally an internship,
one of the weaknesses is, a student only gets the experience that that organization has for
them that particular semester. It’s limited to that. But with good asynchronous
learning pedagogies, faculty member can get a group of students and have them share with each other, comparing and contrasting
their experiences and referring them back to material they’ve learned in their coursework and to really enhance and
develop that experience so that it’s a much richer
and more effective one. There are other things that you can do to increase the effectiveness
of your teaching and help our students succeed. Another one is to really look
carefully at the curricula. The more credits a student needs to take, the more expensive it is and
the harder it is to schedule. I often mention that, say
for a bachelor’s degree, that’s 120 credits, 15 trips to campus per credit, that’s 1800 trips to campus they have to schedule around their lives. They also have to pay for them. Those are things that interfere, ’cause both the finance and
the realities of their lives are things that make it harder for the people in our service area and others who come here to succeed. Let’s look really
carefully at our curricula. What are we requiring? Are we really giving them the most we can to help them succeed for each
credit they’re paying for and scheduling their lives around. We’ve got to be especially careful not to let our own vested interests in our own particular courses and our own particular department, interfere with developing the very best curricula for our students. I met with a GE committee this week and I mentioned this to them. It’s very important that
our general education be the best for them. I am grateful to this day, for the general education I
received as an undergraduate. It enriches my life all the time. There are many things I
do, that I wouldn’t do, reading, all kinds of things that I do, I wouldn’t do if it hadn’t been for that. They get so few credits of
that in a bachelor’s degree. We need to work together
to make sure they are the right ones for them and not for us. That they’re not scheduled
around what we want to teach and when we want to teach, but around them, what they need to learn and when it’s convenient for them. That’s another thing that will help them with student success. Another thing we can do to help with student
success as part of that, is to not schedule classes, to schedule classes so that we don’t have ones that
are under-subscribed, we can pace them. I was responsible for a
degree program in New York where we looked at every
course, we eliminated some and others we scheduled once every two years, once
a year, once a semester, depending upon the rate at which demand existed for those courses. So there’s always a
good number of students when the course was offered. You can help students through scheduling to be able to afford it and not only make it
more convenient for them, but even possible for them to continue their education and complete. So I want to encourage you
to think about those things and to do what you can to make an education really excellent, really affordable and possible for all who are here and coming. We’re working on an academic master plan. It builds on our mission and what we’ve been given to do. We are a teaching university and we don’t need to be
embarrassed about that. I embrace it. I embrace it, it means
that we can go after it, we can recruit the best
teaching faculty members. We can retain them, we can promote them. We can work toward that, we all have that as a shared thing. Our mission statement given
to us by the Board of Regents is to be a teaching university with scholarship and service complimenting and supporting it. Let’s embrace that. That’s another thing we can do to help our students to succeed. I value research universities. I studied them as a professor, I was a professor of higher education. I studied universities, I
studied research universities. They’ve done dramatic things. They’re very important. But teaching universities
are also important. Research universities are expensive. They’re expensive. Faculty members have, reduced class loads. By the way, that’s another
thing you could do, is by, is not have, reduce your teaching load any more than you absolutely have to because that takes you
out of the classroom. You have less influence with the students and it raises the expense for them. But we have a different mission. Our mission is teaching. Our mission is making education available to these people and others who come. Our mission is to transform
lives in a dramatic way. And so, as we begin a new academic year, again, I thank you so much
for all that you’re doing and encourage you to think about
these things that we can do to enable our students to succeed even more than they do now and enable more of them
to come and to finish and to go on and have
rich and meaningful lives and I express my appreciation. Thank you all and welcome to a new year. (audience applauds) – So I was told that we
need to have 10 minutes and now that we’re two
minutes into that 10 minutes, I’ve been crossing off paragraphs. I’ve learned how to do that in the past but welcome to UVU. I hope you had a great summer but I hope you are
excited, anxious and ready and think about it, for the
32-plus thousand students who are gonna walk through the
doors on Monday morning and, Vice President Olson has
talked about student success and I wanna kind of focus
on just a few things here, as far as defining student success. I crossed off a few paragraphs but one thing that all of us have heard and that is we now have a
new political environment that imposes performance-based funding to Utah’s system of higher education. So there’s a lot of concern
and effort being focused on student success here at UVU as well as our sister
institutions across the state. So Joe Cuseo from Marymount
College states that, Defining student success is the critical step toward promoting it. Now, I could and I’m sure we will continue that philosophical discussion throughout this semester but that’s not what I
want to do this morning. What I’d like to do is focus on some of the things that
you have already done and so, to do that, student success, let’s
take a look at some of the students who’ve been in your classroom, just a couple of them. One of them, this is Ryan Card. He’s very typical example of students who matriculate with UVU. He’s a first generation student. None of his family on either side has ever gone beyond
high-school graduation. He was a formidable wrestling contender at South Summit High School in Kamas, and he graduated from high-school in 2009 and then he married his
high-school sweetheart a month and a half later. So now we have a very young man who’s a very young husband thinking okay, now, how
do I take care of my wife and the family that we
hope to have someday? So he and his wife made
a different decision. They decided to go to college. But the only one that made sense to him because of his lack of
focus in high-school was one that had open
enrollment so he came to UVU, he came to you. Now, when he came, being a good athlete, he decided Exercise Physiology
would be what he wanted to to major in. And so, as he got there, and as he got, arrived in some of your classes, he, was mentored by a few faculty and one academic advisor and so I asked him just last week, so who was most influential
at UVU in your life? And he thought about it for
just a couple of seconds and he said Dr. Brent, Bret
Boyer and Kristen Anderson. Dr. Boyer truly cares for his students and makes a conscious effort to reach out to each one of his students. Kristen Anderson and I hope
she’s here this morning, never let me say never. She kept encouraging me and
reassuring me to the point that the only idea that was
left in my head, was success. Those two had him raise his sights to something he had never considered. He graduated from UVU in
December and was accepted to Campbell University School
of Osteopathic Medicine in North Carolina in December. So now, he has a different
thing to deal with. How do I pay for medical school? So he went to the US Air
Force to enter Services, graduated from Officer
Training School in April 21st, and that’s why he missed
his graduation here. And then, he has now begun classes in North Carolina, in his
medical school on August 1st. So I asked him, because
medical school, if you know, they have an intense week of coursework and then they have a brutal
exam every Monday morning and that’s pretty standard. So I asked him, Ryan, how
did you do on your test? And he laughed, he said, Dr. Bracken, I got 100% on my first
exam in medical school. And he says, I was stoked. He says, I know I can do this. So thank you. Thank you to Bret Boyer, Dr. Bret Boyer, and Kristen Anderson, for making a, changing the destiny of this little family for generations to come. Now one other one, and he
didn’t send very many pictures and you’ll see why. This is his graduation from New York University
School of Medicine. This is Fabio Sagebin if any of you may have known him. He and I’m going to quote him. ‘Cause this is again, a very
typical student coming to UVU. My story begins with
graduating from high-school with an embarrassing 2.6 GPA with no intent of attending college. My father ran a successful
construction business and my plan was to
follow in his footsteps. While serving as a
missionary in New York City, I was mentored by a mission president who convinced me of the
importance of higher education. Not having taken any of the
appropriate entrance exams, I needed an open enrollment
opportunity upon returning home and UVU was a no-brainer. So, he says, while there, there was a mistake made
in my course schedule. I was accidentally enrolled
in Biology 1610 for majors rather than Biology 1010 for non-majors. It was a tough course and I met talented students with pre-health and care ambitions. I worked hard and earned
an A for the first time. And then I considered the
opportunity of medicine since there’s no physicians
in my extended family I graduated from UVU this summer of 2009, major in biology, minor in chemistry. The faculty who influenced me the most was Dr. Wayne Whaley, Dr.
Gamini and then, quote, I have no idea how to
pronounce his last name so I won’t try. Dr. Craig Thulin and
Dr. Catherine Stephen. Fabio is one of the three applicants to gain early acceptance to the University of Utah’s
School of Medicine, but due to a life event that occurred in his
life and his new wife, he just, they decided to look elsewhere. So he’d been accepted at multiple schools so he decided to go to New York University School of Medicine. There he published 10 manuscripts and also had their first child, Asher. Now, at the end of medical school, he decided he wanted to be
a cardiothoracic surgeon. Now, you have to
understand what that takes. That’s five years residency
for general surgery, two years of research and then you can apply for
a three year fellowship to learn how to do cardiothoracic surgery. Some of the leaders in the medical field decided that was too much and they were not getting as
many applicants as they needed so they did, they reduced that, where you could go into
a six year residency, directly into cardiothoracic surgery. Fabio Sagebin was one
of the first accepted into that program at Rochester, New York. So here you see him, and I like his little
statement at the bottom, I’m the one on the right. That’s doing open, or doing
bypass surgery on this patient with his mentor. So, coming back to his statement here. So Dr. Wayne Whaley, Dr. Gamini, that’s all I can pronounce, Dr. Craig Thulin, Dr. Bruce Wilson, especially had an impact in his life to change from what he
might have, thank goodness, there was a mistake in his
enrollment at the very beginning but to these professors, thank you. You have made a permanent change in the destiny of this family
for generations to come. So next Monday morning, when the students walk through the doors and into your classrooms, it takes, it’s just small
things, make huge differences in the lives of your students. Listen to them, encourage them, and make them, help them
to believe in themselves. Once that happens, they will do the rest and thank you for your time. And also I’ve been asked, don’t clap because the next
speaker is a lot better. (audience giggles) It’s my privilege to
introduce Courtney Davis. She’s taught at UVU since 2007, both as a lecturer and assistant professor in the department of Arts and Design. She teaches a range of history courses focusing on American and European Art from the 19th and 20th centuries. She’s also a licensed attorney. Courtney is passionate
about topics related to arts management, freedom of
expression and copyright law. And I have to tell you, as
the faculty senate president, she also serves diligently
on the faculty senate and I cannot tell you
how much we rely on her and her opinions and
her consulting with us in the decisions that we
make, so Courtney Davis. (audience applauds) – Thank you so much for that introduction. It is my honor and privilege
to be invited to speak today. And let me echo my thanks
also to Academic Affairs and the Convocation Committee
for organizing this event. From banners and pins to
websites, books, artworks, exhibitions and the
general feeling of pride and UV-euphoria, 2016 is our year. From a fledgling vocational trade school to a regional institution
of higher learning, UVU inspires us with its history, one built upon dreams,
tireless dedication, and an unwavering commitment to progress. Our institutional history
is a part of all of us. With so much transformation and evolution, we are deeply aware of the roles we play, our position within UVU genealogy. As faculty, we can count the branches of our
institutional family tree in the form of courses developed, degrees created and programs added. But always, our mission stays the same. As a teaching institution,
to provide opportunity, to promote student success and to meet our regional
educational needs. For me, our institutional history is literally part of
my own family history, and my family’s history is part of the community
mission of our institution. After World War II, my
great-uncle attended the Central Utah Vocational School, the very first incarnation of UVU. In the early 1960s, my
father earned a certificate in electrical technology
from the vocational school just before it became the Utah
Trade Technical Institute. And I don’t really know
who these people are, but I may or may not be related to them and they look like they’re
having a great time, so I had to include them. In the 1980s, my mother took classes at Utah Valley Community College to be followed by my brother, who attended Utah Valley State College in the 1990s. UVU, through all of it incarnations, provided an opportunity for my family, they would not otherwise have had and in effect, inspired my
own passion for education. Both of my parents were
technically first generation, at least in their lines. In fact, as a child, I had the opportunity of being part of my
mother’s experience at UVCC as a non-traditional student,
juggling family commitments and a love of learning. Through her journey, I learned about the process of higher education and also about the first
generation experience, which for many, is one of
uncertainty, of trial and error, and of climbing fences. To illustrate this point, one
vivid memory springs to mind. When my mother returned home rather late from her evening space planning class. She had taken a wrong turn from the Sparks Automotive
Building, which incidentally, is very close to where
my office is in the GT and she found herself in
a fenced in playground, the ancestor to the Wee Care Center. Unfortunately, the door locked behind her, trapping her inside the
eight foot tall enclosure. It was winter, naturally, and in the archaic pre-cellphone age, with the night dragging on, she did the only thing she could think of. She climbed that eight
foot tall chain link fence with her size five,
violet, spike-heeled pumps and fuchsia 1980s sweater-dress. In my mind, this is the perfect metaphor, not just for the college experience but for the first generation experience. Sitting here today, we all know that the path to higher
education is far from idyllic and we would probably all agree that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I often tell my students, half of what I learned about in school, wasn’t the content material,
but everything else. That classes are dropped for non-payment, as many students learned, just last week. That taking 20 credits might seem like a really
good idea in August, but not in November. That printers will invariably jam, 15 minutes before a paper is due. It happened to me every time. And that some doors will lock behind you and you will need to do some creative on-the-spot problem solving. It’s why professors enforce deadlines, issue volumes of extra credit, and still at times, embrace
the Socratic method. But for the first-gen student, especially those coming
directly from high-school, this new foreign system can
be not only anxiety-inducing, but seemingly unethical. They might not see fences
to climb, but barricades, insurmountable obstacles, proof
they are on the wrong path. Gaps in knowledge can intensify the challenges faced
by first-gen students. They simply might not have previous experience with
specific disciplines or subjects. Although this can occur in any field, it is of particular relevance to the arts. Indeed, the benefit of a
liberal fine arts education is sometimes overlooked in
the first generation context. Indeed, studies indicate
that educational attainment and childhood exposure are typically the most important demographic factors in predicting arts attendance. Unfortunately, many first gen students lack a meaningful
experience with the arts. Despite the pivotal role the arts play in fostering visual literacy and engendering strong, creative, and critical thinking skills, most of us would agree
that the arts suffer on K through 12 level, even being labeled as a
reward or recess activity. In the secondary education
context and beyond, the arts are sometimes regarded simply as a means of personal expression or an extracurricular hobby. Like many within the arts, I’ve encountered this
pedagogical fence to climb in my GE art history courses. The, I’m only here because
I have to be, attitude. It doesn’t help that
President Obama himself, made an offhand and now
infamous comment in 2014, about the earning potential
of a degree in Art History. So sad. However, in response to an
email written by Ann Johns, Senior lecturer in the
Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas in Austin, the White House delivered a
hand-written apology letter from the President. I’m quoting from a section, “Let me apologize for
my off-the-cuff remarks. “I was making a point
about the jobs market, “not the value of art history. “As it so happens, art history was “one of my favorite
subjects in high-school “and it has helped me to take “a great deal of joy in my life, “that I might otherwise have missed.” End quote. In addition to being a marvelous story, whispered around art
department water-coolers for the past two years,
I reference this letter because of the president’s statement. “It has helped me take a
great deal of joy in my life “that I might otherwise, have missed.” This is true of many of
us regarding the arts but in addition to contributing
to aesthetic enjoyment, the arts are also a form
of visual communication. I think President Obama would agree, that one of the most iconic images in modern presidential campaign history is Shepherd Fairey’s HOPE poster of 2008. A representation that some
feel, helped sway the election and which sparked
countless appropriations, parodies, and at least one
notable copyright lawsuit involving the artist. The arts function as a gateway. They speak to us, not only
on the levels of taste, personal preference
and emotional response, they provide access to
deeper, more profound claims of historical and cultural significance like the Dutch Baroque
Master, Johannes Vermeer. French Romanticist, Theodore Gericault, and lively impressionists,
Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. But gaining access to advanced
levels of meaning and value often requires a guide, without which, we would remain on the other
side of the fence, so to speak. A perfect example is that sometimes-esoteric world
of contemporary art. I suspect that some of
us in fact, many of us, might have found ourselves
in a museum of some kind, perhaps to be confronted
with something like this. The following inner dialogue might ensue. What is that? Really, how is that art? It’s a pile of candy. Wait, wait, what does the text panel say? I can take a piece? Now this is ridiculous, what’s next? Toilets as art, rotten
food, vacuum cleaners? By the way, as an art historian, I can resolutely say the answer is, yes, yes, sorry about that one, and yes. If the inner dialogue stopped there, we would not only miss the point, we might walk away with a newfound contempt
for contemporary art. But the dialogue shouldn’t end there. Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) is a work by the late artist,
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and the ever-shrinking
and ever-replenishing pile of wrapped candies
is an allegorical portrait of the artist’s partner Ross Laycock who succumbed to AIDS-related
complications in 1991. The glossy, wrapped, sugary morsels represent the ephemeral
nature of human life, the sweetness of love and loss and a subtle texture of memory. The installation began at, and
is periodically refilled to 175 pounds, the healthy
ideal weight of Ross Laycock. As each viewer takes a piece,
the candy spill recedes, day by day, piece by piece, fading away but at the same time, gaining new life in the minds, hearts and bodies of viewers whose single piece of candy functions as a microcosm of memory, a symbol of the ephemerality of life, a perfect memento mori. Moving, even beyond the
aesthetic sensory experience, the work of Gonzales-Torres
leans into a rich heritage of modern and contemporary art history. To understand Untitled
fully as an artistic work, one must also have a familiarity
with ready-made sculpture. First introduced by the
now-infamous Marcel Duchamp, an artist on the forefront of Dada, a style that emerged in the 19-teens, in response to the brutalities and the madness of the First World War. After Dada, artists experimented
heavily with conceptualism, art about the idea, rather
than the final product, a trend that dominated
the 20th century vanguard, even with such styles as pop-art, the direct ancestor to the
style of Gonzalez-Torres. What I’ve just described to you illustrates what many art theorists label as the cultural code, the
background information needed to unlock the layered meaning of artworks. Far beyond the knee-jerk,
yes I like it, or no I don’t, responses so prevalent
in our social media age. Without the cultural code,
Portrait of Ross in LA remains a pile of candy
on the museum floor. Yinka Shonibare’s post-colonial
inspired installations look like clothing props and Yasumasa Morimura’s work seems, well, rather bizarre to say the least. Not understanding the cultural code locks viewers from meaning. It acts as a deterrent. This is the case, not only
with cryptic contemporary works but even with historical masterpieces that might be seen as out
of touch, out of date, or too difficult to understand. This is not an experience relegated to first generation students but the first-gen context can present a specific
set of circumstances that make studying and
appreciating the arts much more challenging. Not only are the arts popularly perceived as a sector with limited
job opportunities, even within professional
and academic circles, the arts are often tinged
with the stigma of elitism. Certain people go to museums
or the opera or the theater. A stereotype is common
as the perception of the Bohemian artist or
the free-spirited dancer. Because of these cultural perceptions, first generation students can experience emotional or psychological barriers that prevent them from accessing the arts. When I teach GE classes
and require students to visit our own Woodbury Art Museum and I have to say, that’s
after convincing them a museum does in fact exist at University Mall, just to throw that in, University Place now. At least one student invariably reveals this was his or her very first
experience in an art museum. Those less familiar with the arts sometimes feel out of place at museums, galleries, performance halls and the like, and thus, seek to avoid them. Arts organizations are well
aware of these barriers with respect to audience development and the encouragement of
first-time participation. As we learned with contemporary art, similar cultural codes
exist throughout the arts. Serge Dorny, Director General of Lyon National Opera has noted, quote, “For the first-time concert-goer, “the unwritten codes, music appreciation, “can seem as demanding as
Tamino’s initiation rituals “in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. “Get to your seat before the music starts. “Sit still. “Listen in silence without
rustling the program “or tapping your feet “and don’t on any account,
applaud between movements. “If you have a music degree,
you’re off to a good start. “If you haven’t and your
motivation is pure pleasure, “then you may feel you
are in the right place “at the wrong time.” End quote. As educators, we counter
the centuries old belief that the arts are reserved for only a certain type
or group of people, an idea inherited from
days of royal courts and aristocratic patronage. But expanding the inclusion
of artistic appreciation not only entails the creation of new
opportunities for experience, it can also require a shift
in personal understanding and even identity. This can be problematic. In the first generation context, where shifting or evolving tastes might not be viewed completely positively, some students experience
a level of anxiety when confronted with new ideas that might seem to run counter
to their personal traditions. Indeed, writing for the
Washington Post in 2015, Linda Banks-Santilli, Associate
Professor of Education at Wheelock College.
theorizes that, quote, “Guilt is one of the biggest struggles “first-generation college students face. “Reacting to their disruption “of inter-generational continuity, “many first generation
students may come to develop “two different identities. “One for home, and another for college.” End of quote. Those of us in the arts are
aware of, or familiar with the what do I tell my parents conversation. Parents who don’t understand why their child would possibly
want to major in the arts. What do I tell them, students ask, like whispered confession,
it’s what I love, but everyone tells me
I’ll never get a job. Sensitive to the job market, first-gen students are
usually highly attuned to the cost-benefit analysis
of higher education. They see college as a
gateway to a better job and a better future and so it should be. Although as faculty,
we have the opportunity of guiding students to understand that a better job and a better future may require or at least be enhanced by skills developed through
experience with the arts, such as visual literacy,
creative and critical thinking, conceptualization and theory development. These abilities are so highly prized that even the Yale
University School of Medicine requires first-year medical students to take an art history course in order to improve observation skills, and consequently, improve
patient diagnosis. Similarly, Ann Levine, a noted law school admissions expert, named art history as her pick for one of the best majors
for law school prep. Why? Because in her words, “it teaches you to look at something “you’ve never seen before and
apply the facts you’ve learned “to determine just what
you’re looking at.” The immense value of these interpretive, conceptual and theory-based skills is sometimes less-recognized
by first-gen students. They can also be overlooked by another, related segment of our population, the first generation students in America. For many of our international students, learning to navigate the American system presents similar challenges to the broader first-gen population, particularly in relationship to identity, cultural experience, and personal
or familial expectations. With these two student populations, much focus is often placed on pedagogy, retention and employability. But yet, we as faculty,
should not lose sight of those intangible opportunities that don’t show up in datasets
or statistical calculations. Opportunities not just for students, but for institutions to grow. This year, as we reflect upon
our past, present and future, we should consider what these students with all of their voices,
their experiences, their backgrounds, hopes and dreams, bring to our university. I’d like to conclude
with an example of work created by one of our own students. This past spring, Ukrainian
born student, Sergey Khrushchev created an artwork called Cocoon. Part sculpture, part performance, Cocoon was created in the
science building atrium during Engaged Learning
Week as part of a project for my Contemporary Art History class. The artwork represented six
years of the artist’s life, six years in America, six years of memory, experience and transformation. The performance lasted two hours, the time needed for
Khrushchev and his assistants to mold and shape more
than one half ton of clay into a rounded structure, large enough to fit the artist’s body. The objective was simple, to create a clay cocoon from
which to emerge triumphantly. In the artist’s words, quote, “Cocoon is just a shell. “The last stage of cocoon
is breaking out to freedom “so I am breaking all the
walls of oppression, anxiety, “discrimination, to come out anew.” Khrushchev will graduate this spring with a Bachelor of Fine Art and Sculpture and intends to pursue
further graduate studies. His education, skills and vision shaped by outstanding faculty mentors like ceramics professors,
Mark Talbert and Brian Jensen. Indeed, Sergey’s work, which was featured in
the UVU Review in April, embodies the transformation of identity, not dissimilar to the metamorphosis from the nervous, uncertain freshman who sits in our classroom
on the very first day, to the confident, triumphant graduate, taking the next step in life, if we can just keep them on their path. For some, the path requires the occasional climbing of fences, for others, it is breaking
through walls to begin life anew. That is the mission of our university, providing opportunity,
promoting student success and meeting educational needs. And we are not alone. Our history, our 75 years as
lengthy as it seems to us, is but a mere slice in the
broader historical tradition which links us between
past, present and future. Thank you. (audience applauds)
(audience whistles) Thank you so much, that was lovely. It’s now my pleasure to be
able to introduce to you today, our featured keynote speaker, Dr. Christopher Emdin. You can see Dr. Emdin’s
bio in the program, and I will read it to you. Dr. Emdin is a social critic, public intellectual and science advocate whose commentary on
issues of race, culture, inequality and education have appeared in dozens of influential periodicals including the Wall Street
Journal, The Washington Post, Forbes, and Atlanta Journal Constitution. He’s an assistant professor in the department of Mathematics,
Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as a
director, or the director, of Secondary School initiatives at the Urban Science Education Center. Dr. Emdin is an expert on
improving urban education, the intersection of hip-hop in education, STEM, education, ‘scuse me, politics, race, class,
diversity and youth empowerment. He is an advisor to numerous
international organizations, school districts and schools
where he delivers speeches and holds workshops and
professional development sessions for students, teachers, policy-makers, and other education stakeholders within the public and private sector. Dr. Emdin writes the
provocative Emdin5 series on a number of contemporary social issues for the Huffington Post and draws on his extensive experience as a former physics and chemistry teacher, school administrator and
urban education researcher to write about topics that
range from school bullying and student protest to
parental involvement and the political
landscape of urban America. He’s the author of the
recently award-winning book, recently-released award-winning book, Urban Science Education
for the Hip-Hop Culture. Christopher Emdin holds
a PhD in Urban Education with a concentration in
Mathematics, Science and Technology. Masters degrees in both Natural Sciences and Education Administration and Bachelors degrees in
Physical Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry. That’s outstandingly amazing. Just to let you know, you can
buy Christopher Emdin’s book, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too, Reality, Pedagogy and Urban Education. You can actually buy that outside today. Got our post-it for $20. I’m gonna buy my own copy. Let us please welcome
Dr. Christopher Emdin. (audience applauds) – That’s a great introduction, thank you. So I hadn’t seen that bio in quite awhile so I’m really curious as to
where that one came from. So a lot of it is definitely very accurate but I’ve since done some
other pretty cool stuff so, like I’m now associate professor, I’m really excited about that. But anyway,
(audience applauds) But that’s not the point
of the conversation. I have one hour and in that hour, I have so much I wanna share with you so I’m gonna give a couple of disclaimers and I’m gonna get right
into the talk okay? The first thing I’m gonna say is that because I have a lot that I
want to pack into this hour I’m gonna speak relatively quickly and so if my pace of speaking
is just too fast for you I’m gonna ask you to raise your hand, I’m gonna take that for a cue and I’ll slow down just a little bit, I’ll probably pick back up again so just raise your hand once more and we’ll figure it out
together, is that fair? Can we fulfill that end of the bargain? That’s cool? And the second disclaimer before I speak is that I’m sure that over
the course of my talk, I’ll probably say one thing, maybe two that will offend someone so if you’re terribly offended, just like, get up, go for a quick walk, you know, get it off
your chest, and come back because I may say something afterwards that you may totally love. And the reason why I give
that second disclaimer is probably the most
important disclaimer is that I feel as though my responsibility, whenever I come to a space
to share some thoughts and words and ideas about teaching and the craft and the art of teaching, it actually requires us
really pushing the boundaries of what we know and what
we think is right to do and I would be remiss if
I came all the way to Utah and I just made you feel good and then went back home so my intent is to you
know, make you feel good, but also challenge it a
little bit if that’s okay. And so, now let’s get
into this all, alright? So one of the things
that made me want to come to give this talk in particular, because, and I’m also gonna
give a third disclaimer. Third disclaimer is that
my wife loves me very much and she says Chris, what
I love the most about you is that you’re probably
the most brutally honest human being I’ve ever met and in the same breath she says, Chris, the thing I despise
the most about you, is you’re probably the
most brutally honest human being I’ve ever met. And so I’ll say that, and then say this. So part of the reason
why I wanted to come here and give this particular talk today despite the fact that I
actually had two other talks I was supposed to give, was that I wanted to come to UVU. And so the question is like, why did you want to come to
UVU in particular, right? Like, you live in New York,
this is Utah, like hello. Last time I checked, you were black, not many black folks hanging out here, so why would you wanna come, right? And the reason why I wanted to come was because I delved deeply into the history and the
mission of the institution and there is something about
being in a place and space where everyone from
the administration down and also historically,
has focused on this idea of being predicated on and
having their strength be the fact that they are
a teaching institution. Right, like it’s a badge
that you hold proudly, it is the anchor of where you are, it is riddled through the mission, it’s come down through
even state government, like we want you guys to
be the teaching institution and we live in a current
climate across higher education, where there is not been
a privileging of folks who focus on the art and craft of teaching as the anchor of their institution. And because of that, it is
important for you to know that I find you and your work and your craft and your mission so special that you champion that piece in the midst of the larger climate. And because you champion
this notion of teaching as the anchor of your instruction, it’s gonna require an extra
responsibility to ensure that the quality of your teaching, the nature of your
teaching, the ins and outs and details and nuances and
crannies of the teaching, takes on a space where
it’s transformative. You cannot profess to be
a teaching institution that prides itself on the
art and craft of teaching and approach the nature of teaching from a passe, archaic idea of teaching ’cause in that instance, you may as well not be
a teaching institution and do things the exact same
way that everybody else has. Why is that important? It’s important because we are dealing with a higher education climate that’s grappling with
that tension right now. And that tension is not one between teaching and not teaching per se, it’s between expectations of what we’re supposed to
profess as institutions and what we know is right to do. It’s about these sort of
institutional memories that people can intellectually
wanna sort of depart from, but in practice, can’t do
anything about moving beyond. It’s embodied in a talk I gave
four years ago at Stanford when a project that I was working on, received this great national attention. I was so excited about it
that it got this attention but I didn’t expect it at all. And the project essentially involved me as a science geek and dweeb, working with young people
across urban spaces to learn science more effectively and part of the project for me was, how do I get them to be more attuned to and connected to science when every time I walk
into science classrooms, they are absolutely bored to death, right? I would literally walk into a classroom and kids are propping up
their heads with their hands, like to keep from falling asleep, like going to a literal physical changes to ensure that they can
stay up for these classes. And so, I was watching these young folks and they were high-school students and community college students sort of bored to death and I would go into the community and just follow ’em around. And not in like, a creepy, why is this bald dude following us around kind of way, right? But like a research-y, let’s
study these cats, right? So I go and I start
following these students who are completely disengaged
in the classroom around and I start finding out
things about their life worlds that the schools at all did
not consider in their teaching. So the first thing I would notice was they’re from these
really tough communities and that didn’t, at all, happen to be reflected in the instruction. And many of them were immigrant families. I’m like, none of the
instruction reflected the fact that we’re talking
about immigrant students and most importantly, that
these students were doing these things called hip-hop battles and they’d be in these hip-hop ciphers on their street corners in their really broken
neighborhoods and communities and they would be excited. They would have this immense joy. They would be rapping to each other and finishing each other’s sentences and literally like, holding hands and putting their arms around each other and there was this celebratory experience around this thing that
seemingly had nothing at all to do with academics and what struck me was, man, they are so excited
despite the horrific conditions of their everyday experiences, they have all this immense joy and then we bring them into the school and the schools are great schools, they’re well funded, they look
pretty, they’re super nice, but they’re bored to death. So how is it that a pretty school, you guys following me? A pretty school bores folks to death and a seemingly tough
backdrop excites them. And so I said, what I want is, I want the same kind of
experiences that they have in their neighborhoods when they were doing this rap stuff, to happen in the science classroom. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I need that type of
excitement to happen. And so, eventually, after
trying a bunch of other things that I didn’t want to try, I was like oh, maybe if
I have them all stand up, ’cause you know, when they were rapping, they were standing up. So we went to the school, hey guys, why don’t you stand up and learn science? And so they would just like
stand up and fall asleep. And so I was like, that won’t work. And maybe if I had you guys, and I was, maybe if I had you guys all sort of gather together in circles and they would gather in circles, and it would work a little bit but then they’d fall back asleep. So it wasn’t the standing up, and do you know what kind
of pains I went through to try and identify what would work when what could work was
standing in my face all along. Like literally, what I needed to do was have them rap. Now I’m not asking you guys
to have your students rap. I want you to just follow the story. The idea was, I could
see the thing in my face, that could make them be engaged, but my notion of respectability, of what a college
classroom should look like, what a high-school
classroom could look like, helped me to justify the
avoidance of the thing that was glaring in my face about what needed to work for my students and the minute I had them do some raps around science content, we had them literally
learning so much content, it was mind-boggling. They would cram in a
semester-long physics class into a three minute rap song and it boggled the minds
of everyone around us. Like how’s this happening
and the answer was, I had to focus on what was
innately who they were, first. Despite the fact that it pushed
back against all the things that I thought was right to do and once I made that connection, I transformed their lives forever. Now, you may not be dealing
with urban students per se, or you may, but you’re dealing with a population with these
first generation students who have very very different realities than what the institution
is preparing them for. They have very different
norms and everyday practices than what we have been
prepared for as educators. Listen, all of you are sitting
in this room right now, are the exception to the rule when it comes to the general
populace and being educated. Did you realize that? Do you realize that there are people who are from places where you’re from, like you’re the special smart
one who was smart enough to be able to go and get a
Master’s degree or PhD degree and be able to sit in an institution and be a university professor. The reality is that the
majority of the population do not have the kind of educational
accolades that you have. We must begin with the point
of confronting the fact that we come with some privilege. Now once we recognize that, we have to understand that
by virtue of our privilege, that a majority of the population
don’t have what we have but our job as educators, is to do what? Get those hundreds and thousands of people who don’t have what we have,
to be able to get what we have. Are you following me? And if that’s the case, we have to understand
that what worked for us is actually not what’s
gonna work for them. We, as a minority and
a sort of, thank you, we as a minority in this place as far as the ones who can achieve, we gotta understand something. We are either one or two. We are either resilient enough to overcome the challenges and trauma
of contemporary education, meaning like, you just know how to, look, I’m bored to death, but I know that I have
to study harder so I will and you didn’t like the experience when you were in school yourself, but you knew you had to be
resilient enough to do it. Dig deep, it’s there. Or, or, you’re the other type, which is like, I’m just good at school. Like, I’m super smart, my
mom told me I’m super smart, my dad told me I’m super smart, so I’m considered to be super smart, I’ll go get these higher
degrees ’cause I am super smart. But the super smart folks
and the resilient folks actually reflect not
much of everyone else. And what happens when we come
to institutions like these is, we are teaching these students,
these first gen students as though they were mini versions of us. That even in a teaching institution, we are teaching as
though who we’re teaching reflects a minority of
the larger populace. So you’re teaching them like hey, you guys are either here as super smart or as super resilient because
that’s how everybody else who’s sitting around here in this room is. Are you following me? But the reality is that guys, we are the very one who
are boring folks to death. (audience laughs) (audience applauds) We are the very ones who are engaging in practices
of disconnect from people and when I say that, I don’t say you are, I also want you guys to understand that this word for me is a we are. Listen, I was raised
in the Bronx, New York, came up of age in the 80s when it was a very sort of
challenging time, right? The neighborhoods were
riddled with challenges. And I was able to go through that process and to have some success in schools. I was actually not a good
student in high-school but when I got to undergrad,
like, the world opened up and the world opened up to me because I went in for the first semester and I hated all my classes and I went into a biology class and I had this one professor and she wasn’t like the
best professor per se. But that’s exactly what you
were saying in your talk, like that one professor
that has an impact, right? She wasn’t the best professor per se but this is what happened to me. She needed students to
come into her research lab and no one would volunteer
after three weeks of school and so she looked around and says, you know, hey you, come to my lab. And I’m like, for what? And she’s like, well,
you’ll get extra credit. And I was like, well, I
probably need the extra credit even before my first exam. Let me tell you why that’s important. The notion of I will need extra
credit before my first exam is actually the mindset that
your students are walking into when they come into your classroom. They already walk into that
place, feeling some deficiency, feeling some how am I
gonna work through this? I took that leap based on the fact that I thought little of
myself and when I got there, I started realizing that biology was not
what I thought it was. I thought it was memorizing
a bunch of information to pass the test and then
she sort of showed me, well, you know, biology’s
actually doing some stuff. And it was hands on, it was interactive and after I realized that, I fell so in love with biology because she introduced me to the fun and the life of biology. Now, what I loved the most about the lab, are y’all following me? Let me take my sweat, like
I’m gonna take my jacket off, I’m getting warm. Look, the one thing that I
loved the most about the lab, guys, do you know that it
wasn’t the research per se, it was the fact that when I
walked into the biology lab, there was music playing in the back and I was like what,
they let music in school? Is that okay? And she said well, we’re in the lab and so what we do is we
have all the researchers pick whatever they wanna listen to because we could play
music in the backdrop as we do the research and it blew my mind. And then she said do you, you know, I was like, well what do
I need to wear in here and she was like well you
need to wear a lab coat. And I was like do I need
to wear a suit and tie and wear dress shoes? And she was like well you
could wear whatever you want under your lab coat as long
as you don’t show up naked and I said well that’s great. So let’s follow along now. So now I could, and someone may have, but we don’t know, because
they have lab coats on. But the point was, I had music playing in the backdrop, which made me feel like oh my gosh, I could play my own music so I was introducing my
music in my fellow peers. I could wear whatever I wanted. I could use whatever slang I wanted to use in my conversations as long as the biology research I was doing on ideology of schizophrenia could add to the experience
of learning more content. Are you all following me? Like that it wasn’t about the content that she was teaching me per se it was by my understanding that I could be a
biologist by being myself. Are we creating classroom contexts that allows the first generation students to walk into a classroom to feel that by virtue of being first
generation students alone, makes them equipped to be
academically successful? Are we showing them that the fact that you are the first one
to make it to this place actually means that you have
an in-built resilience already and I’m gonna value that in my class, in fact, I’m gonna praise you
for that publicly in my class so that you could have a
self-confidence about who you are that allows you to be
academically successful? I want us to understand that
the success of our students is not predicated on the quality of the content that we’re
delivering, but rather, on the context that we
create in the classroom to allow them to feel
that they are comfortable on their own terms from
the second they walk in. And if you could create those
contexts in our classroom, we could transform lives. We could fully embody the notion of being a teaching institution because we understand the
complexity and the nuances of what it means to actually teach. To teach is not to deliver information. To teach is not to get somebody to understand your concept better. To teach is to light a fire
and passion in that person and make them believe that
by virtue of who they are, they can be successful. So let’s move, I didn’t
even get into my talk yet. So let’s move on. (audience laughs)
(audience applauds) Now, as we move on, I want us to understand that
we are not just moving on and talking about teaching. Well we are changing the narrative of what teaching and learning looks like. Are you following me on this journey, do you want to be with me on this journey? Alright. When I went into that talk at Stanford and remember that story, I’m
gonna weave that story back. They invited me there because
of the stuff that happened with my kids who were rapping and because of my mentor,
Neil deGrasse Tyson and my other mentor GZA from Wu-Tang Clan. Yes, different mentors, we gonna talk about why that’s important and so they said, come to this talk and so I was excited, I’m going to Stanford to give this talk, so I go and give this talk and after the talk, they
said great great job, thanks for talking about your research and a guy came to me and said, you know, your talk was cool but what I liked the most about it is that you brought the techies
and the fuzzies together. And I had no idea what
he was talking about. I’m like, the techies and the fuzzies, like what are you talking about? And he goes listen, no one says this on this campus and I know that our
second-in-charge guy here is a Stanford guy so he
knows it all too well. He said no one says this on this campus but you know, we’ve divided the campus between the techies and the fuzzies. I said, what does that mean? He said well all the
folks who do real science, like the hard sciences,
they’re the techies. The STEM folks, the engineering folks, the nano-technology folks,
they’re the techies. And then all the other
folks, you know, art history, which I’ll stop thinking of, alright, like the art history folks, the social, those are the fuzzies and usually on this campus, the techies and the fuzzies don’t talk. It’s like an invisible
line between the campus, between the techies and the fuzzies and he’s like, this is the
first time that I’ve seen only all the the techies
and the fuzzies together having a conversation because the music and
art and hip-hop stuff brought the fuzzies in and then the science stuff
brought the techies in. Now, why is that interesting? When you deconstruct the statistics related to who’s the
techies and the fuzzies, something fascinating happens. Well those who were the techies, who were supposed to be the
smart, science-minded folks, you interrogate them and say what made you think
that you are a scientist and they go well, I’ve just always been naturally good at it. Who told you that? Well, my parents told me that. My teachers told me that. I’ve always felt that way. And then you ask more probing
questions and you say, what was like the motivating factor that made you decide that
you wanted to be a techie? And they go, well, like I was just naturally good at it. Okay, that’s interesting. Thanks for sharing that. And then you go to the fuzzies
and you say the same thing. Well why? Well I did this naturally,
I’m just really good at it and then most importantly, then you start asking the real questions and the real questions is, well, you find that most of the fuzzies had parents who were fuzzies. Are y’all following me? So like, well what do your parent, well my parents made
me, they went to college and they just loved art
history, you know, right? And then you ask the techies, like, you know, you start interrogating them, well my grandfather was a scientist and my mother was an
anthro-biochemist as well. And so, why that’s
fascinating for me is that we are discovering that people’s decisions to engage in particular disciplines were actually an output of the
context they were embedded in and the affirmations about
their ability to do well in those disciplines. That it was less of a reflection of their intellectual ability but more of how the context
allowed that to happen. Now why is that fascinating and why do I want to bring that to UVU? Like, I’m tingling and I
can’t get the stuff out, because we actually have an opportunity as a teaching institution to do pedagogy that focuses on the merging of the techies and the
fuzzies across disciplines. As a institution that
focuses, like hyper-focuses on teaching as the anchor
of the instruction, we have to also understand
that that young man who created the cocoon to
bust himself out of it, we could use that project to teach math and make ’em more mathematically literate. Are you following me? Like in an institution
where all the faculty can fit into this room,
the opportunity for us to engage in interdisciplinary
conversations about how we improve the
nature of our teaching is ripe. Like I could go somewhere
else and give a talk. They can’t get it because
they’re too caught up in their foolishness, they don’t understand
the value of teaching and I can’t fit them all in this one place but here, but here, we can do it. I mean, you know, we’re
sitting in tables right now with folks who are in
different disciplines who can understand that,
we can do this better. We could do this thing different. And then most importantly, we could also deconstruct those of us who are not naturally good at this, who worked hard to do it, to understand that just because
you worked hard to do it and you hated every piece of
the process doesn’t mean that the next generation
has to do that as well. (audience applauds) Major key, right? See, when we get affirmed
for our brilliance, we start thinking that everybody else has to go through
the same process as we did. And you’re special. And you’re, you did it, great. But maybe not everybody else has the same kind of context you had and how can we ensure that our teaching does not reflect a focus and an anchor on make it just as bad as I had it because you need to be
able to go through it. Do you guys know, oh gosh, do you guys know that, do you guys know that the
sequence of teaching science across this country, was decided by some folks at
the university where I work at, that was probably just
like a drunken decision. Where you teach earth
science first, bio next, chemistry next, and physics next and the whole entire world follows that same sequence of science teaching, that some couple of dudes decided. And we know, as folks who
actually do scientific research, that the nature of that
sequence is problematic because it runs counter to
what we know is right to do but we keep on doing it because, we keep on doing it. How can we, at UVU, be an institution, I’ve hired myself here at
your school, I’m sorry. But how can we, at UVU,
start redefining practices based on what we know is right to do and start shaping the conversation for the rest of the country? Look, institutions who
have been given the title of having the best
institutions in the world maintain their position simply by being known
as those institutions. One of my very good friends who’s a physics professor at Harvard has literally said, you know what, I’m not gonna give assessments so I test at the end of the year anymore, I’m just gonna give assessments throughout and have kids have
conversations with each other and everybody says, oh my gosh, that’s brilliant and ground-breaking. You know that’s what’s right to do here, just because of what
you know is right to do. But we keep following
these invisible heroes because they’re just invisible heroes. Why can’t we be our own heroes? Why can’t we redefine what that
practice looks like for us? Look, now that work requires revolution. I know it’s a scary word. This is where I scare
people and they walk out. Emdin, you want us to have a revolution? You know, the president’s like oh my gosh, why did we bring this guy here? What do I mean by revolution? I’m gonna define revolution. Revolution is defined as a fundamental change in political power or organization structures that takes place in a short period of time when the population rises up in revolt against the current authorities. Again, that might make you authorities in the administration feel uncomfortable. But how about that is the
case in a R1 institution, an institution that’s
predicated on teaching better, do you know who the
current authorities are? The teachers, the
professors, the instructors. So if a revolution is a revolt
against the authorities, this is what I’m asking you to do. I’m asking you to engage in a
revolution against yourselves. (audience applauds) what I am advocating for is an internal revolution
against our age-old practices. Now, revolutions can mean two things. A revolution mathematically
is that I start here and I end here. Technically, that’s a revolution. No, that’s not what I’m asking you to do. I’m talking about a distinct revolution in your everyday practices. Now, what is a revolution in
everyday practices look like? It looks like you just committing to not do things the same
way you did it before. Emdin, my students do okay in my class. I’m telling you, that
a revolution entails, just being unwilling to do things the same way you did it before. Maybe it’s about time that you just stop doing the same thing you been doing for 20 years straight and try something different. Now what does the something
different look like? I don’t know, you figure that out. But by virtue of doing something that’s outside of the existed norm, you shock the students into
witnessing and experiencing and wanting and desiring
something different. Look, if I have four classes a semester and every class starts the same way. Guys, please open up your syllabus, or you guys have a really great system now so you can go online and look at it. I’ve been doing my research, I promise. You know, go online and
look at your syllabus and then we’ll talk about, and if every single, and
then let’s do icebreakers so we all get to know who’s in this class and they go through that
same exact rote process every single class for
the next three classes, you’ve already implanted in them, that this is gonna be like
everything else they experienced. If they walk into your
class on the first day and you pick out the part of the lesson that excites you the most and you teach that, even
though it’s out of sequence, and they feel like you’re
on fire for your subject, you’ve got them for three,
four, five more classes and then five classes later, you invent, you try something else new. Look, guys, this is a place that
wants to revolutionize the practice of the teaching. So you’ve got to revolutionize yourself in the act of your teaching. Next slide. Who here is a Stevie Wonder fan, anyone? Raise your hand, alright. See, now I know I’m at home. I might not go back to
New York after this. So, Stevie Wonder’s my
favorite singer of all time. And just a sidebar, I also feel sometimes that nobody around Stevie really loves him and it makes me sad. And the reason why is because, there’s no reason why
his dreads start here and if someone really cared, they would have just gave him my haircut and it bothers me that no
one cares about Stevie. That was not the point
of my speech at all, I just, I just had to share that. We will all write a letter
to Stevie’s management and address that issue. So Stevie Wonder is my favorite singer and his most famous album is Songs in the Key of Life,
anyone knows that album? Wait, if you don’t clap for
Songs in the Key of Life, I will walk off the stage, alright? (audience claps) Sure, don’t clap for me, clap for that. And that album has probably the most re-recorded songs of all
time, Ribbon in the Sky, Love’s in Need of Love Today, it’s just, it’s the most brilliant album and when it came out, the album
was so critically acclaimed, everybody loved it. But, before he created the
album Songs in the Key of Life, which I argue is a metaphor for teaching, because true teaching should
be in the key of life. Meaning that it should reflect what the students are
experiencing every single day. Like I don’t care if you’re
teaching art or science or biology or underwater basket weaving, the role of an active teacher is to make it connects to the key of life experiences
of the young people and I think you guys get that. But before he could create
Songs in the Key of Life, about three or four years prior, he created an album called Inner Visions. Does anybody know Inner Visions? A few real fans, right? Now, everybody knows
Songs in the Key of Life, not everybody knows Inner Visions. That’s important. See, songs in the Key of Life is where we want to get UVU to get to. We wan UVU instructors to get to the point where they are creating hits
upon hits of classroom lessons every single week that
set the students on fire and they love every single one. That’s the goal, right? But the thing is you cannot
get to Songs in the Key of Life you cannot teach in the key of life until you first create
the inner visions first. The Inner Visions album was not popular. It didn’t sound as great
in the eyes of many people. It was a personal album that
Stevie Wonder had to do. It talked about the same themes
as Song in the Key of Life, Are y’all following me right now? The same themes as Song in the Key of Life but it was more for him. Does that make sense? So you cannot teach in the key of life until you first do inner visions work. Inner visions work is what
we’re gonna do together today. I have a little workshop later on, we’re gonna talk about it. That is when you do the
inner work of deconstructing what made you who you are
today as an instructor. How often do you ask yourself, who was the instructor
that made you be in love with the discipline that
you’re teaching today? Do you ever ask yourself that? Now, if you ask yourself that, do you ask yourself, how
close or how far away I am from that person? Like, the inner visions
work is the dirty work. The title of my talk today was like, the root of teaching these populations. Look, anybody ever plant? You ever plant something
in the ground and, I have a little patch of land
’cause I live in New York, I can’t afford much land. But I try to plant, right? And I’ll put on these sanitized gloves and every time I dig in, If I have a hole the size
of a pin-head in my gloves, inevitably the dirt gets into my gloves and I get dirt under my fingernails and it always happens. See, the work of truly teaching cannot be just the glossy
part I opened up with because I want you guys
to get on my side first. Now I’m gonna challenge you. It’s requiring an
understanding of the dirt that you gotta dig into first,
before you can do that work, the inner visions work. Now are you okay with me talking about some inner visions work because I’ma challenge you a little bit. You sure? Alright. Alright. You gotta do excavations. You’ve got to confront the fact that there are reasons why we don’t focus on the needs of populations
who are first generation because we collectively have a certain bias against those populations. We’ve got to confront the fact that when a student comes to our classrooms and speaks with a certain accent that’s not the accent that
we’re most comfortable with, we hold some bias against that student. You say, no we don’t, we’re
Christian, we’re Mormon, we don’t hold biases, we love everyone. And I’m telling you, by
virtue of being who you are and going through academia and going through the
process of education, you do. And not only do you hold them, they’re impacting the way that
you connect to those students and guys, if you can’t address and confront those issues first, you will not be the type of
institution that you want to be. It requires excavations. Do you know that
archeologists can know that there’s something in the
ground that they want to find in that ground and you
guys all want to find the potential of the
students in the ground but they will choose not to do
the excavation in that place because they feel like
they may trouble the people who are in the surrounding areas. That’s a metaphor for
what we do as educators. Our unwillingness to
dig deep into the dirt of our own biases and
preconceptions and misconceptions about those students that inhibits us from doing the excavations
to get them to be successful. The excavations are personal. They’re institutional. They’re historical. And it also contemporary, and, I’m gonna skip this right now, and actually, I won’t. And the inability for us
to collectively acknowledge our biases against the students, whether personal or
institutional or historical, turns us into, bodies with eyes that move, that can’t move into action. And if you look at this image, the heads, it’s almost like my version of an art history conversation, right? The heads of these images are big and the big head represents a head that’s full of knowledge. So the head is full of knowledge
about what is right to do. The eyes are big because they
can witness what’s right to do but the body is paralyzed because there is not an
acceptance of the fact that there are things in my
history and my experience that is inhibiting me from doing the work that’s right to do. We become bobble-heads
of teachers, as teachers when we fail to recognize
the biases that we hold when it comes to changing the
lives of these young people. It also requires us to understand that despite whatever we want to do to transform the lives of young people, they are living in this world. And our unwillingness to confront the fact that they live in a
world of Trump speeches, that are anti first-gen in many ways, of Hilary pontifications, that
we might not be clear about, of protests, of folks feeling
like their lives don’t matter, of folks being attacked by
the criminal justice system and we may feel as though,
Emdin, that has nothing at all to do with us being effective teachers for our first generation students. We just want to be effective
teachers and just do well. And I’m saying to you, if you
don’t dig deep in the dirt, you are paralyzed. You are not reaching your
full potential as an educator. The students who are
walking into your classroom at 19 or 20 or 24 or 25 or 27, are living in a world
where these phenomena are impacting their
psyche on a daily basis. If they are the targets of
words and statements being made by folks in the political party, it is affecting their self-consciousness. I did some work in New
York City around PTSD where we talked to young people who are experiencing evidence of trauma. We have a strong veteran population here and a good friend of
mine, Dr. Napoleon Wells, works with people who have gone to war and have experienced
trauma and he says to me, there’s certain things
that you cannot understand about someone who’s gone to war and experienced the type of
trauma these folks understand and I said, okay, explain to me more. And the reason I went on to talk to him, was because I said, man,
I’m having some issues with these students I’m
trying to work with. We got a bunch of first
generation students, they’re Latino or Latina, they’re going into the schools, they’re under-performing, they are enacting certain behaviors that run counter to the
school, we want them to do well and I can’t understand why
they’re not doing well. Maybe give me a psychological analysis and I’m describing the
behaviors of these students and he says, Chris,
they’re experiencing PTSD. I was like, how? You talk about war veterans. How can that be experienced by the, he said well, there are versions of
PTSD that aren’t troubled. Do you know there’s a Poor
Treatment in Society Disorder, that invokes trauma in people? That the accumulation of
micro-aggressions in the world affects my ability to see
myself as being able to learn and cause me to leave
and drop out of school? Do you know there’s a Poor
Teaching Science Disorder, as a scientist, where
are my science people at? Raise your hands, don’t be shy. You know, all the teachers
suck and we suck more. And there’s a phenomena
around science teaching in particular that makes
folks say science or math, you ever see somebody, you say, are you good at science or math and they literally have
a physical reaction to you saying that. Like oh my, I’m just,
no math, I can’t do sci, like dude, why are you reacting that way? You ever have somebody, you
go to a restaurant with them and you want to split the bill at the end and they push the ticket,
the check away from you because they don’t want to calculate? That’s not normal. (audience laughs) and I’m telling us as
educators, as science educators, it’s because we didn’t, we made them feel like they couldn’t do it and it wasn’t for them. We contributed to that process. And so, part of the job of the teacher, are y’all with me this morning? Part of the job of the teacher is to understand that
you are also a healer. You have to be a healer. You have to be able to create
spaces in the classroom where you engage in
dialogues about young people, about what is inhibiting
them from being successful. You must create the space for it. You can’t tell me there’s not
enough time in this semester and we have an exam at the end and we have subjects to cover, like all of that stuff is inconsequential if you are going to teach
all the content in the world and they’re gonna forget
it after your exam. (audience applauds) So if UVU is truly going to be a leading, cutting-edge teaching institution, then we have to, as a collective force, as a faculty, say that
we are going to carve out the space in our classrooms where we will have
conversations and dialogue to our students to talk about what their barriers are to learning and the barriers that they
overcame to get to this place, that they feel as though, walking into a class is a healing process. When you walk into a class where you can let go of those things, you know, can I have a
volunteer, can you come up? Yeah, why not. Yeah, come on up, yup. Thank you so much. I’m sorry to pick on you. Look, I feel like I
want to make this point and I don’t know if you’ll get it unless I try to make a point. So hold the book, which is
my book and it’s really good. So hold it. Now he’s holding onto this book. This book is an accumulation of all his experiences in life to this point. He’s a first generation student, worked hard to get here, no one else in his
family’s been here before, he’s been told when he was in high-school, he couldn’t do well in math or in school he was an athlete, ’cause
when you’re an athlete, you’re not an intelligent person at all because people tell them
that, you guys know that, and he carries all those
emotions to the classroom. You guys with me? Now, I’m an instructor and I am teaching history. And I’m going to teach you
history, you understand that? ’cause I’m a teaching institution, I care about you, I heard the mantra, I heard the missions and the 75 years, we’re gonna change the world and you’re gonna get this history. You’re gonna get this history, right? And so I walks to the class, enthusiastic and I say, here’s the history and I give it to him and
I place it right here. And what happens is, the history falls. ’cause he’s holding onto something. I could give him the history and it stays enough for
me to give a test or two but the minute he walks back to his seat, he shakes and the history falls. Are you guys understanding me? And what we do is, we’re
a teaching institution so we’re gonna be more creative, we say okay, well you
couldn’t grab the history when I gave it to you. So do you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna be creative. I’m gonna toss it behind my back at you. Like, I’m gonna toss it
behind, like between my legs. See, we’re doing all these things around what we think is right to do to deliver information
effectively around pedagogy. I mean, I read that amazing book about the things that
you guys have in place, that to go online and to have
the students have tutoring. These are all amazingly wonderful things but look what I’m telling you. All those things will amount to more fancy ways to deliver the content if we don’t first begin with saying, how you feel today? I understand the experience of being the first person in your
family being in college, I know someone who felt that way and our first week of school talks about the challenges of
the first generation student and those who are not first generation, let them hear the story either because they need to learn
some damn empathy, ‘scuse me. Right, so we talk about that. And we talk about the
obstacles and your life and your family and as I
do all that kind of stuff, I can take this away from him for enough time for him to feel as though, oh my god, keep your hands just like that, oh my gosh, I am not holding
on to all those things that society placed on me,
that inhibit me from learning and now, if want to give him this content, he’s gonna take that content and hold it and carry it and can. But unless you first begin the
teaching and learning process with a recognition of what they hold and creating spaces in classrooms where they can let go of
that and be open to learn, it is all an exercise in futility. (audience cheers)
It is. (audience applauds) Thank you. Are you willing to create that space? And I know, I know what you’re thinking. I can see it in your eyes. Well Emdin, I’m not a
personable person per se. You know, that’s just not my, (audience laughs) it’s just not in my personality
to just do those things. You know, you just gotta do it. You know people oftentimes say to me, ’cause when I worked with
urban youth in New York City, they say, the reason why you’re so good with working with urban youth and getting them all to be so engaged is because you’re urban and I say you don’t understand
how badly I suffered when I first started to
work with urban youth, because I went in there
thinking I was a superhero. I really did. I was like oh, I’m an active biochemist to teach science to urban
kids who look like me, I shall save them and
make their lives better. You know, I literally, if I could’ve, I would’ve walked into
class with a cape, you know, like to save them. And I was horrific because
I didn’t recognize that your students don’t need saving. They just need recognition. That’s all they want. (audience applauds) A recognition of their brilliance, a recognition of who they are an affirmation of their inherent
ability to be successful and then deliver the heck
out of that information when you got it. Gosh, I can’t believe time
has gone by so quickly, this is nuts, I have
so much to cover still. Are you guys still okay,
are you still with me? So let’s do a vote. Like what things do you want me to cover? Do you want me to, no, I’ll just cover myself, and we’ll do a workshop in the afternoon. Is that okay? Alright. I want us to understand the
mechanism of how this works and I am not, any sociologists in here? Not that many. Okay, good, so we can talk about them. Alright, so listen. So after my success as an undergrad and in my masters program in
the sciences, I developed this, this is such a natural, like
there’s a science hubris. Science folks, you know what it is. We just think that we’re like, super smart and everybody else is not as smart and no one tells us that. It’s just by virtue of being
successful in those disciplines because you hear the whole, science for the best and brightest, that whole mantra. So I was like, a social scientist? Sociology, so what do you do exactly? Like, you study people? When I go to a park, I study people. Why would I need a PhD in it? Like, these are my perceptions
for a very long time. I know, I’m just too honest, I know. And then, when I started
studying the art of teaching I realized that there’s no field more powerful than sociology ’cause it’s not, you’re
not teaching content, you’re teaching people. And when you understand
that you’re teaching people, then you learn ways to deliver
the content more effectively. So I’m gonna give you a quick rundown on my version of Sociology 101, related to teaching and learning. Are you ready? I need applause, otherwise
I’ll just move on, alright? (audience applauds) Not for me, for the readiness. Alright now, the fundamental principle, I wish I had a pointer,
but oh, this is here, I don’t even need a pointer. The fundamental principle
we all have to understand is that all human beings, can you hear me, even though
I’m away from the mic? No, I’ll stay by the mic, I’m sorry. Oh, is a recognition of the fact that, oh I didn’t know I had this earlier, is a recognition, I could’ve
moved all around this room, is a recognition of the
fact that all human beings come into your institution and come into your classroom
with social capital. What is social capital, is essentially that every human
being is coming to a place with knowledge about who they are and where they’re from that is an asset. This is important for us to know because it’s gonna take
a shift in our thinking to recognize that. Meaning, the child who came from a school and may have barely made it and came into this institution
because it’s open enrollment, by virtue of knowing what it feels like to drop out of school, actually has some knowledge
about dropping out that has value. So it’s this notion that
no matter who you are, you got value and strength and wisdom. I don’t wanna gloss over
it because this is huge. Do you guys understand
or believe that at least? Kinda sorta? Now, here’s what’s weird. All of us who are in this room also have our own forms of social capital and our forms of social capital surround our brilliance
and fancy degrees, right? So it’s like, let’s say I had two students who were dropouts. They would have the same experience on knowing how it felt to drop out. If I have two people who had PhDs, I don’t have to know you,
I just can connect with you because you know the grueling
process of writing a PhD. Or Cat and I, for example, I don’t have to know Cat, I feel like Cat understands my pain. You know why? ’cause Cat has glasses
on and I have glasses on and no one else who doesn’t wear glasses knows how it feels to be
out in a cold day in winter and then walk into a building with heat and our glasses just get this fog and then we have to do this for awhile and by virtue of wearing glasses, she and I have a shared social capital. Let’s say I walk into a room and it was just me and Cat. Can I, I’m gonna come down. It’s just me and Cat, and I didn’t know anybody else. I’m like, aw man, who
can I be friends with? It’s a cold day, it’s warm, I
just did this with my glasses, who else can I talk to? I would talk to Cat first, you know why? Because I would feel as
though she knew what I felt. Does that make sense? So our shared forms of social capital make us to communicate with each other, which is a good thing except, people who have shared
forms of social capital, actually form dense
networks to each other. Meaning, we connect to each other based on all the things we have in common, so you wear glasses,
I wear glasses, check. I’m black, you’re white, no check, right? But you have polo shirts and
I like polo shirts, check. You stand with your arms crossed, I’m a hip-hop person, we do
this all the time, check. Right? So now, so now, I’m identifying all these things that I have in common with you and we both love Stevie
Wonder, high fives, dude. So now, by virtue of all these connected, you guys with me so far? By virtue of all these things, I’m gonna gravitate more towards this guy like this guy’s my friend. Now what happens when I form
dense networks with people who are like me is that, I now start disconnecting myself from folks who are not like me. So now I’m like, shoot, I got a friend, we could listen to music together, we have B-boy poses together, why care about making
friends with everybody else? So we form dense networks to each other. When we form dense networks to each other, we ostracize everybody else. When we ostracize everybody else, we cannot benefit from the
value that they all have. Now, guys, I hate to break it to you, we all, in this room,
are the privileged few who have shared forms of social capital. So professors talk like professors. Professors teach like other professors. Professors live in more affluent places, like other folks who have
a little bit more money. By virtue of our collective experiences, we are locked into a social sphere that’s different from everybody else and the people that we are
different from is guess who? Your students, especially
those first generation students because they have no idea of the things and forms and norms of
engaging that you have. Do you understand that? So now, as a teacher, you’ve got to for a second,
stop and say darn it, I need to bring those people that I’ve turned my
back on, along with me. So what’s that gonna require? It’s gonna require you
identifying structural holes. Structural holes essentially are, if we have all these things in common, we’re gonna look around and remember that Cat had glasses too? We’re like, Cat doesn’t like Stevie, does not do B-boy poses, just is not cool like us, but you know, she kind
of wears glasses, right? So Cat now, as an instructor, like we’re both, we have to say, what is a thing that we have
in common with our students? That’s gonna be the dense network. Are you following me? So your role is not necessarily
to deliver the instruction, it’s to first begin with saying, knowing and acknowledging the dense networks you’re a part of and trying to identify the commonalities that you may share with a student. Now the commonalities may not be around things that you think are valuable. It might be something
seemingly insignificant. It might be around a song that they like. It might be around a fishing
experience they may have had. But the thing is, you cannot find the connector with the students unless you reveal the
complexities of who you are. Yeah, I was getting to
the point, I got to it. You see how I did that? So look, so when you go in
based from a dense network, you bring to the classroom,
a version of yourself that you think you’re
supposed to be, as instructor. But to be effective, you have to bring all
full versions of yourself which means now you have
to be able to divulge personal information about
who you are to your class and that actually is a
necessary pedagogical strategy. Y’all, aw. Like, that it becomes, it becomes a deliberate part
of teaching and learning, is for you to be a human
being to your students. Like your students, and I
know this is gonna sound weird but I’m gonna put, they need to know about
your wife and your kids and where you went on vacation and what you did this summer and you have to find, as an instructor and I don’t care what you’re teaching, a way to incorporate those
aspects of your authentic self to them, because when you bring all of those selves into the classroom, then the students find the
things to identify with to connect to the discipline. See, the extraction of
our authentic selves from our pedagogical selves inhibits our effectiveness
to connect to students. Students don’t connect to you just because you’re so good at art or at history or at science. Frankly, they don’t care. They connect to you initially because man, that guy has a cool beard. Like seriously, those things matter. And the presence of those things are the anchor of instruction. You following? So let me, I’ma go back. So now, I wanna just, I’m closing out. Although I don’t want to. I got three minutes, darn
it, three minutes, okay. Are you learning stuff? Okay.
(audience applauds) So, the job here, and I’m giving
you language for the stuff. I’m doing a workshop later on, that’s gonna give you
more specific strategies. I just want to give you guys the backdrop. The idea here and you guys have all seen this image before, right? Of the, you know, deep
belly, of this iceberg. Your core identities are
actually more complex than the role identity that
you put forth in the classroom and I’m asking you to tap into your core and this notion of role is so important. Because your role, every human
being has identities, right? So identity is who you are when you walk into a particular place. Some of you right now, lik I’m
looking at the scene, right? I just want everybody
to look at this table. Sorry guys, I’m gonna put you on the spot. So Cat, you’re gonna be out of the table for
example, for a minute. But if you look at this table, these are all very well-dressed gentlemen, buttoned up to the tee, great ties and even
collectively hand-clasped. You realize that? Like, it was a thing. Like genuinely, they’re
all like hands clasped. I’m not picking on you guys,
but I am picking on you. And I know these are like,
the big shots here, right? So they’re all sitting here with the same sort of behavior. Now, I’m gonna tell you,
that somebody in their lives if they walked in here right
now and saw them like this, would be like, you fraud. Now, for you guys, you’re like, oh, they sit, and that’s what they do. And they like, dude, you, really? Do you know what that is? As a human being, we identify
that in different spaces, we have different identities. So they’re enacting a role identity. Our role as administrator and professor in a space requires us to have a certain decorum,
certain attire, certain dress, certain whatever, right? But you don’t know what these
guys like when they home, sorry, guys. Like when they’re home, they could be completely
different people, right? They could go home. He’s like heck yeah I am, right? I mean, he might go home
and he might be in the car once he gets out of here,
playing Biggie & Tupac, you just don’t know. And you wouldn’t know that because the self in here, is
he’s sharing his role identity. Now what I’m saying is that, he would be so much cooler if all his students knew
he liked Biggie & Tupac. You guys get my point? Now I’ma close out soon. What’s my point? And I hope I’ve made a ton of points. My point is this, look. The work to transform the
process of teaching and learning really requires us digging back deep to what is right to do about
delivering information. It is about acknowledging that following rules or of
decorum or expectations, actually inhibit us from
connecting to the students who are most vulnerable
and most marginalized. And I’ll end with one quote. It’s by Anais, it’s one of my
favorite quotes and it says, “And the day came, when the
risk to remain tight in the bud “was more painful than the
risk it took to blossom.” “And the day came, when the
risk to remain tight in the bud “was more painful than the
risk it took to blossom.” (audience applauds) And on Monday, the day will come, where the risk to keep doing
the same thing the same way, over and over again, is so painful, that you want to do something to transform the lives of young people and allow them to blossom. And if we take that mantra
to our work and our practice, we will make UVU the type of institution that we want it to be. Thank you. (audience applauds) – Thank you, Chris, what a performance. I do want to reassure the faculty though, that next year we’ll try to get someone a little more animated. So we tried hard this time,
we’ll do better next time. Now that was a, in a level all its own
and it was moving us right in our sweet spot. Do you all know, how many first
generation students we have at Utah Valley University,
what the percentages are? We’re here in a very,
relatively affluent community one of the most robust economies in the nation right now, actually, with a surrounding culture that often talks about
education, preaches education. Any guesses? 36% of our students at
Utah Valley University are first generation students. So this isn’t just some minor thing that we’re talking about. This is more than a third of the students who will be in your classrooms,
come Monday morning, are the population we’re
talking about today, that we’ve got to reach if we’re going to live up to this dream and I can’t imagine a
better set of remarks, more inspirational, more practical for what we wanna do to
achieve our greatness, as a teaching institution
in this community so thank you again. (audience applauds) Wanna thank Jeff Olson for his remarks and for his continued
leadership of Academic Affairs and Mark Bracken, doing a
great job in Faculty Senate. We’d miss him, but Chris if
you wanna take him on the road as your history catcher, I thought you two really
had a chemistry up there, okay, alright. And Courtney, is Courtney still here? Where’s Courtney? That was phenomenal, thank you. As a big champion of
liberal arts education, I absolutely loved what you had to say and as applied and
practical as we tend to be and technological, with all
that we’ve got going on, it’s just a really important message as a serious university, so
thank you, Courtney for that. Well look. This is just a very exciting time to be at Utah Valley University and there’s a lot of
excitement on in the world, just in general. We’ve got this really inspiring presidential election going on, I’m glad you laughed. I thought Cat tipped her hand with her Trump comments
earlier, no, just kidding. And, it’s the Olympics and I don’t know about you folks but I think the Olympics have
been made far more exciting as the Olympics now
collide with .social media And so, what I’d like to do is just share a few of my
favorite observations from Twitter with you and maybe you’ve seen
some of these yourself. First one comes from @TechnicallyRon, The Olympics is brilliant, you watch physically glorious humans whilst sat on your
sofa, covered in crisps, screaming go on, get better. Then there’s EricsShadow. A 41 year old gymnast is
competing in her 7th Olympics. I just texted my son and
offered him five bucks to come down and hand me the remote. (audience laughs) Watch the graphic on this one. Phelps won by so much that even the graphic of his
name is beating his opponents. Now this one you have to look extra hard and make sure that you
look in the background as well as the foreground. When you realize they’re the
best swimmers in the world, so you’re probably not
saving any lives tonight. And then of course, what truly has been my favorite glimpse of
the Olympics so far, when your parents finally
meet your girlfriend. Anyway, a very exciting time. We are in the midst of
our 75th anniversary. A remarkable accomplishment
for this institution that started out with
very humble beginnings. I, in another venue, earlier in the year, at State University, gave
a more detailed discussion of our history and where we came from. I don’t really want to
duplicate that today and it’s not usually my habit to do this but I will call your attention to the link that has that speech
because it is, I think, really filled with such
great and important history about where we come from and who we owe to where we’ve come today. A lot of really heroic
efforts, pioneering efforts, that have produced this
institution that we enjoy today and it’s important that we honor our past, that we see where we come from, that we see the people
that have sacrificed and the courage that they’ve demonstrated and the innovations they brought to bear so that we can have the kind
of institution we have today. I just want to again, for the more detailed version, go there. You got a little bit from Courtney today, I’ll give you just a little
bit more now to begin with. Just a reminder, this was our beginning. This was our campus, 1941. We were really more or less, a collection of
post-secondary shop classes to help people escape the
ravages of the Depression and to assist with the
effort of World War II, to support Geneva Steel to
develop welders and technicians that could support that war effort. This was our first faculty and our staff. We now have a faculty following
staff convocation schedule, we have to meet separately. I met with the staff yesterday, similarly-filled ballroom, I
meet with the faculty today. And if we’d done this in
1941, it would have been these six guys at
breakfast together, okay? That’s the president and his secretary and then five faculty. The woman on the right, her specialty, conversational English for natively trained and educated folks. That gives you a sense of
kind of where we’ve come from. Here’s our first class. Not exactly a mecca of diversity there, that’s who we were. Those were our beginnings and we became a small
vocational school in 1941. Did that for a couple of decades. Then became a Technical Institute, then a Technical College in ’67. That was the instantiation of
the institution that I knew when I was growing up here in the valley. Then became a Community College in ’87, very shortly after that, a State College, and finally, we’re at our last seal, Utah Valley University and that little humble set of buildings and old CCC barracks,
dilapidated even in ’41, built frankly, by faculty
and staff and students who kind of did it part time, is now this. This is our campus and this
is not our only campus. We have a beautiful Wasatch campus, we have great facilities
down by the Provo Airport for emergency services and aviation. And we have this spectacular
Capitol Reef field station in the heart of one of the most glittering national parks
that we have in this nation. What a transformation as one of the titles of the first, well really it’s the title
of our first history book. This is a miracle in this valley, what has happened, and we’re celebrating
75 years of this growth and this development. But as exciting as it is to see the transformation of those buildings, what really matters are the people here and it starts with you faculty and we are so grateful
for what the faculty do. Your accomplishments are truly remarkable, what you’re doing in your disciplines, what you’re doing in the classroom and you’re being increasingly
recognized for that, for your scholarships, your
papers, your presentations but even more importantly in the spirit of what we’ve
heard today, your teaching. What you’re doing pedagogically and again, not to undermine the
revolution, which I welcome. We can do even better, but I do want to commend
you for being committed and for taking teaching seriously and for your increasing visibility in the state, in the
nation, around the world for what you’re doing in the classroom and in your disciplines. By the way, I know you’re
all real smart and connected and can connect things, but you get what’s going
on with the pictures and the circles and the Olympics and just, okay, alright, just, I didn’t
want anyone to miss it, okay? Okay, so, I wanna say
a word about our staff. We have a terrific staff here at UVU and one of the things I
appreciate about this institution, I want to double down on, is that I see less here, what I see at too many other institutions is a kind of divide between
the faculty and the staff. I hope that you faculty, individually, take the time to appreciate
and recognize the staff that make your jobs possible. I talk all the time, and openly, that the faculty are, they’re the central
part of what we do here but we can’t do what we do
without the staff and so, again, recognizing them
and appreciating them is an important part of what we do. But if I’m going to
focus on anything today I want to say something
about our students. What a year we’ve had. I could go on and on about
what our students have done, thanks to your leadership,
your inspiration, your teaching, but also their hard work, their discipline, their courage, and again, this is always
hard for me to know, I just never have enough time to say everything I’d like to say but just a handful of the prominent things that have happened with our
students in just this year in just 2016. So for the third year in a row, we brought home the Skills
USA National Championship. Yeah, thank you. (audience applauds) People ask, do you still
have the trades at UVU? The response, uh, just better
than anybody in the nation. So three years running. Culinary arts, first national championship at the American Culinary Federation’s National Convention in Phoenix. (audience applauds)
(audience cheers) Out of 7,000 applications for
a TD Ameritrade scholarship, 12 students were selected nationally. Four of them were from UVU and they got to ring the bell at NASDAQ. We’ve got recognized, our
leadership excellence program was a top three, actually two, it was number two in the nation, so top three collegiate
leadership program in the world. Our marketing students
won the Western Regional American Marketing Association competition and was top five at the national levels. Our UVU dancers were selected to perform at the American College Dance Association’s national conference. National CFA exam has on
average, a 17% pass rate. The Wall Street Journal has called it the hardest exam in the world. What was UVU’s pass rate this year? 80%, remarkable. (audience applauds) That happened because of great, committed, extra-effort teaching. Five UVU students were named
University Innovation fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation by the
National Science Foundation. UVU students placed second at Public Health Education
Conference and Competition and our digital media
students won their first Emmy at the 37th annual College
Television Awards in Hollywood so congratulations, guys. (audience applauds) Now just again, a brief
word about some things that we’re doing to
advance student success beyond those greatest
achievements of other students. To start with this exciting announcement. Five new masters programs
at Utah Valley University in Cybersecurity, Public
Service, Computer Science, Accountancy and Social Work. We had an array of programs, we focused on the ones we felt
were most ready, most needed, that we could most achieve
great distinction with and will best help launch our
students into lives of success and accomplishment and
we’re thrilled with that and all that’s come with it,
new graduate student office, graduate studies director,
new policies in place, it’s a major step forward
for us as an institution. And then finally, just a
few other great things, institutionally going on, we hosted our first dual
language immersion fair for 1200 dual-immersion
fourth and sixth graders. A great success with a
doTERRA fundraising effort, 75 scholarships for women
in our 75th anniversary, grateful to my wife Paige
who took a leading role in working with doTERRA
to make that happen, along with that, scholarships
to raise for single parents, student-led, student-initiated, we unveiled our 75th
anniversary Eric Dowdle puzzle cut the ribbon on a new dance complex, cut the ribbon on a new
veterans success center. So again, just a taste of things. Could you join me in complimenting and applauding
our students and yourselves, in another remarkable
year of accomplishments. (audience applauds) Now, what I’d like to do next is talk about what it is, what’s so unique about
what we’ve accomplished. And we’ve talked about that before, I want to revisit this issue and I want to do so in the spirit of why I think we really
should be celebrating today, because it’s not just that
we’re around for 75 years although that’s a pretty
remarkable accomplishment in this day and age, that
we’re here, that we’re vibrant, that we’re growing,
but why are we vibrant? Why are we growing? Why are we building all these buildings and able to add these new programs? It has something to do with
the way we’re responding. I think the thoughtful and
unique way we’re responding to various forces that are
at work in higher education across the nation today. Now, some of you may have
been here a few years ago when I did something similar
about four years ago, five years ago at a
state of the university where I talked about several forces. I’ve now, we’ve refined our thinking, I’ve refined my thinking and I’m talking about six key forces that are at work in higher education, they’re the really sort
of complicated things that are going on and that present real challenges for higher education in so many places and yet, I think we’re taking
the right steps against them or in response to them. So, what are those six forces? Let’s start with this idea of the problem of rising tuition fees. Very briefly, there are a
couple of things going on here. There are some state pressures. Historically, funds that
went to support education increasingly move into
entitlement program, there is a legislative sense that higher education is a privilege more than say, the right
that we think it is for K through 12 and the legislators
increasingly see tuition as a funding stream,
again, nationally speaking. So state pressures, lower state
support, all over the nation for higher education. At the same time, we’ve
got national pressures and this comes from a variety of factors. Accreditation and compliance issues, forcing more and more investments
in staff and technology to be compliant to meet
accreditation, adding to, the need to invest in those staff issues and in some of the technological issues to be able to do that. Greater expectation that
universities will do more to take care of students and to fix issues in their lives and give them amenities. That’s what institutions
are doing more and more to compete for students,
meet them were they are and then this idea of Harvard Envy. This is a little bit of an echo of what Chris just talked to us about. There is too much this sense, that the only bona fide university can be a tier-one research
university like Harvard and that means very low teaching loads and very high research obligations and those are very expensive
institutions to run and the combination of that
has put an incredible pressure on the rising tuition
fees across the nation. And at the same time, we’re
getting more and more people questioning the degree relevance. Is a college degree relevant today? Now I hope you’re noticing
the question mark. This is not Matt Holland’s position. I do not question the relevance
of a college degree today but a lot of people are. You don’t have to read very far to see headlines like the one up there and this is a combination of
the point we’ve just made, these six forces kind of work together. So you’ve got the rising tuition and fees, and with that comes rising debt. And at the same time, industry’s saying, we need people with more immediate skills that they can use to go to work and graduates are not working often in the industry of their major and there’s this badging culture of we’ll help you if you
can show your competence or take some quick investment
in a skill development, we’ll give you a certificate
or a badge and you go to work. So a lot of students, a lot of parents, a lot of citizens saying, is it even worth it to go to college? The irony is, in my mind, there’s a third force, degrees have never been more relevant. They’ve never been more
needed in the world. We are in a much more complicated place. There’s a much more rapid
rate of technological change. Markets are more sophisticated
and more specialized and we have this growing
global connectedness. The world is shrinking. Students are interacting now, our employees and employers
are interacting now, with people from cultures and places they wouldn’t have had any
reason to interact with, even a decade or two ago. And that’s what the power of
a college education will do. It will equip you to operate
in an increasingly complex, sophisticated technological
global marketplace. In addition to all the
other wonderful things that are important about higher education and learning for the sake of learning. The growing access gap. I’ve just talked to you
about 36% first generation, even here at Utah Valley University. Again, with the increasing
cost of higher education, we also see demographic patterns that mean we will expect to see more low-income, more first generation,
more ethnic minorities and immigrant communities who need access to education. We’re gonna increasingly find that they don’t have access to it because it’s too expensive for starters and so that gap is growing, it’s a problem here in this valley, it’s I think, becoming a sort
of a crisis-level problem. Nationally, it has implications for our democracy and
for our civic health. Then we have this
peculiar Utah phenomenon. Whereas much of the rest of the nation has a kind of shrinking
higher education enrollment, Utah’s in the middle
of this population boom and you can see the bar chart here, that we’ve had this kind of steady growth these last few decades where it’s kind of gone
from 250,000 to 500,000 and a little bit above, but we’re no win this period of growth, where very soon there are going to be over a million people in this valley and a lot of those millions of people, are going to need higher education. In fact, our state system is anticipating that by 2025, we are going to have to add 52,000 new students to the system. Now just again, to put that in context about what an anomaly is, that the majority of national institutions are decreasing in their enrollment. Utah’s only one of two states, New Hampshire’s the other one, that has had three
consecutive years of growth in higher education. And there’s a reason why New
Hampshire is in that category which I’ll explain in just a second, very different from just
our natural demographic. So, we’ve got to figure out how to deal with this growth issue. And then finally, there’s the spreading
disruption of technology. It is the world our students live in. We have to meet them where
they are at some level. It’s perceived as a cost saver. In some ways that can be true when it comes to facilities
and what we might do to maximize our physical
infrastructure input, in other ways it’s not true. This requires heavy
investments in technology and maintenance and
software and technicians so there’s kind of a mixed bag there. It does appear that it could provide us greater flexibility in our delivery. That’s important, especially important for some of our non-traditional students. And then there are these
genuinely mixed reviews. That there’s data we could look to that questions the quality of education that’s heavily online or carried out through a
technological mechanism other than a human interaction. Other data, other research
that we’ve looked at and is ready and very credible says, it can be used to enhance
education and make improvements. So we’re keeping our eye on that. I’ve got Southern New Hampshire up there. They have made a decision
to go whole hog online, they still have on-campus,
they have about 4,000 students, but thousands and thousands or more now, are entirely online. That’s the reason why New
Hampshire is the other state that’s growing with Utah with respect to higher
education involvement. It’s not because more people are moving in or they’ve got more
people in their campuses. It’s just ’cause they’ve got more students doing online learning through
Southern New Hampshire. So how does UVU going to respond to that? What is our unique response? So it starts with our core themes and you may remember, just
by the raise the hand, who was here in 2009
when I first started to kind of roll out these terms
we call our core themes? So actually a pretty good number of you but also a lot of new faces. Let me just give you a little bit of a recap on that history. As I was coming into this position, again, we were sort of asking ourselves, where are we headed, how are we going to just find
ourselves as an institution, did a lot of listening, a
lot of visiting with people and there were these four words that came to my mind for me, that both described who we were already, again, this was not new things
we were going to become, it’s what we were already, but what we also wanted to maintain and maybe even do better. And here were the four words. Serious, we were going to be a serious institution of higher learning. We were going to take
academic, intellectual, sophisticated things very seriously and hold ourselves to high standards. And not just academic standards,
professional standards. How we interact with each other, how we carry out our services. We would do those things
in a first-rate way. That we would be engaged, that we would be connected
to the community around us that we would be cognizant
of the real world, that we would try to
make as many applications of our learning in the
classroom and in the textbook and in our theories to what
our students are encountering, that that engaged learning pedagogy would sweep across the curriculum. That we would be inclusive. That this would remain
a place for everyone, that we embrace our open
admissions enrollment policies and that we want it, we love the fact that this could be a
second chance destination for people who needed that
opportunity and didn’t have it. We didn’t want to give that up. And that we wanted to make it a place, comfortable for people
from different races, perspective, walks of life and viewpoints and so that resonated deeply and finally this word you all hated. Large. You didn’t like that word. Everyone sort of liked the first three but no one really liked the word large. And I was listening to
that and it made sense, that you didn’t want to be, that wasn’t the aspiration. We didn’t want to be large
for the sake of being large, we liked the kind of the cohesive, small classroom feel of the place. So we kind of set that off to the side and it led to a real breakthrough. I was grateful for the feedback ’cause it brought together,
it brought forward a point that I was
embarrassed that I missed and that was this point, which is yes, serious, engaged, inclusive, but for what? And the answer was, for student success. That’s really why we’re here. That’s really what we’re about and so, then we kind of
shifted our model to say, okay, we embrace the fact that we want to be those three things but at the core of our core is this idea of engaged,
serious, inclusive, in the service of student success and that is really our defining element. We’re here for those students, we’re here to help them
succeed academically and we want that academic success to launch them into a
life of further success, intellectual success, social success, private industry success,
civic contribution success. That’s our animating mission. So, I want to make sure
that we do not lose sight of the core of the core and we’ve done a lot of
student success since then. We’ve got, under this core theme, we now have objectives and
indicators that we’re monitoring, these are all kind of
collectively decided. Our friends in Academic
Affairs have identified some essential learning outcomes that further delineate student success. we have some statements in our mission, our mission statement. But I think it’s really important to sometimes step back and say, do we all really understand
what we mean by student success? And what are we really
committed to institutionally? So I want to hearken back to 2009 and do something I
haven’t done since then, which is take a little break here, in the middle of my remarks and get your inputs. I want you to think about what
student success means to you and what you thin it should
mean for the university. And os, on your tables, there are these papers
and you’ve got some pens. I want to take 10 minutes,
and no more than 10 minutes and have you have a discussion with each other about this
question of student success and there are three different
questions, by the way. I want you to think about it through the lens of what a student might, how the student might
define student success, what it would lead you to say
that a student is successful, and what you think the
broader community is. If you’ll get a scribe for your table, write these down, we’re
gonna collect these and the ideas is that we’re
gonna pull this together in a aggregated statement. So, have at it. (audience chatters) Here’s your one minute
warning, if you can wrap up. Okay, I got the thumbs-up
from some of you. Let’s bring it back if we can. Thank you for doing that. If you will leave these
pieces of paper on your table, we will collect them afterwards and again, we’re not trying
to recreate the wheel here, we already have a lot
of good thinking on this but I think there is this sense that maybe coming out of
this, there is an effort to coalesce what we’re talking about in our essential learning outcomes and our mission statement, but also in what may have been prompted from our discussion here for something like a
student success manifesto, a kind of a single statement of our institution
commitment to student success and how we understand that, how we will promote that
individually and collectively, so this is the beginning of that process, is to hear from you, get
your thoughts about that, so thank you for taking
time to do that today. So with that, let me come back then. So, the six forces that are
at work across the nation and with a little unique
twist here in Utah, given our own particular demographics and so, our unique response to this, again begins with these core themes. With student success at the heart of it, supported by this mission of being serious, engaged and inclusive. Now, that little word, large, that no one really liked, I think we all recognize
that, we learned that maybe that’s not our aspiration but it is a function of our mission. That if we’re going to be
open admissions and inclusive and we’re gonna help students
stay here and succeed, we are going to be large and get larger and that meant we had to be very serious about some administrative
imperatives and so, we do have to operate effectively, we do have to manage growth, we do have to secure resources. And there’s a whole set of practices that are essential for us to do this in order to manage that mission forward. There’s so much we could talk about here in terms of how we’re responding
to each of the core themes and these administrative imperatives. Again, just a few highlights about the things I think make us most distinctive
in what we’re doing. I start with the example
of structured enrollment. This is where inclusive, our
spirit of open admissions, everyone welcome, anybody who
wants a chance at education is welcome on this campus,
encouraged to be here, in fact, we’re going out and reaching out to populations that aren’t
inclined to be here, to tell them that they are welcome here. That’s what we mean about being inclusive. At least one of the things that we mean about being inclusive. And yet, we have to be
a serious institution. There need to be deadlines,
there need to be expectations, there has to be a certain
level of preparation for advancement into upper division work. So, that’s the power of
structured enrollment. It doesn’t solve all of
the issues that we face but it is a nice mix of those two ideals and we can look at a number
of implications of this but in terms of an update on the data, before we implemented
structured enrollment in 2011, at the first day of the semester, we had 33,000 students. By the last day of the
semester, we had 32,500. We lost nearly a thousand
students through a revolving door, who kind of came in, showed up, or maybe didn’t even
show up the first day, but by the end, they were gone. That’s a problem, that’s wasted
time and resource for them, it’s a drain on your efforts as faculty, that needed to change and one of the powers
of structured enrollment is that that has changed. So you can see that whatever else has been
going on with enrollment, you can see that dip and
there’s a lot going on there with the economy and the LDS
church’s missionary exchange, whether enrollment’s been high or low, since structured enrollment,
we now have more students at the end of the semester than we do at the beginning of the
semester and this year, this last year, our highest number yet. So roll the tape back before
structured enrollment, we lose nearly a thousand students by the end of the semester, by, on this year, excuse me, this last year, we’re up 300 students, meaning we’re keeping most of the students who come through the
front door on day one, and we’re adding students on the block. We are keeping tuition and fees low. Here’s the UVU track record
for the last few years, basically since I arrived. The two years where tuition
got a little bit higher, 11 12, you recall that was
the year of a budget cut that was the way we kind
of kept the doors open and minimized the damage of that. Year 13 and 14, we had a major investment in a new Student Life
and Wellness building that has really helped transform
student life on this campus that just took investment
that we needed to have and the students supported it. But since, other years, we’ve
kept it as low as we could and the last two years, for the first time in the history of this institution, we cut student fees, with the support of our student officers and that doesn’t happen
at very many places and it’s happening, by the way, in the context of a state that’s already very low in tuition. So on average, Utah has the fourth lowest
tuition levels in the nation. UVU is the 65th lowest net
price institution in the nation and that matters for access
and it matters for inclusion and we’re getting, again, national recognition mention for it and it also matters for students success because our students are
leaving with less student debt than any other students in the nation. (audience applauds)
Thank you. So, one of the things that’s important to underscore about that, is when we talk about
efficiencies on this campus, it isn’t just because we
sometimes struggle with the legislature and don’t get
everything that we wanna get, it’s that we have to work
hard, relentlessly hard, to keep these costs controlled so they don’t get passed
on to our students. There’s a lot of things that we do here. We have this Planning, Budget
and Assessment process. I think it’s one of the most
transparent budgetary processes in higher education that
I know of, for sure. Every decision basically, that
gets made with spending money has to be defended publicly
and in light of our core themes and administrative imperatives. And if they can’t be shown
to support those things, they don’t get funded. It’s also by maintaining
our teaching mission. By keeping those teaching
loads at the right levels so we don’t become an extraordinarily expensive
research operation. We watch our staffing
ratios to make sure that our biggest commitments are in our faculty and those who are in
the classroom teaching. Ongoing re-examination of
corse mission functions and if they don’t fit that, they go away and we introduce the
things that do foster that. Having the highest levels
of ethics and accountability in the management of our resources. Anyway, I could go on and on but this, again, I just
can’t stress enough, this is not just because
there isn’t enough money in the system and we fight every year to get as much as we
can from the legislature but a big part of this
is just to make sure that it stays accessible for students. Our inclusion plan, our
strategic inclusion plan. So grateful for Dr. Kyle
Reyes and his committee. I mean, this really has gone beyond, as we all know, Kyle’s had
a great vision for this but now, there are dozens
of you on the committee and around your colleges
who have championed this. Who are putting into action,
these 36 action steps, $2 million worth of investment to help make this a
comfortable, supportive place for everybody and we’re
getting national awards for it, this is just a glimpse of
nationally recognized outlets that are looking at UVU and Orem, Utah for their innovation
and kind of leading ways that they’re taking on
the inclusive front. Technology, we talked about that earlier. What is UVU doing about it? We have to embrace technology but we’re doing it different than the University of
Southern New Hampshire. We’ve made some conscious decisions that A, we’re focused not on the world, we’re focused on that service region map that Jeff talked about. This is a great way for us
to get over to Eagle Mountain and to down in the
south part of the county in Saratoga Springs and
to meet the students who can’t physically get
onto campus occasionally. We’re promoting hybrid courses so that we get the best of technology with the best of human interaction and the magic of the classroom
that we all felt today and we’re teaching for quality with Academic Affairs
arranging their whole emphasis on using technology, not
as much for efficiency, or at least as much for
quality as efficiency, even as we learned to break
bottleneck courses through that. Five pillars of engaged learning. We’ve made some great progress. Grateful for Dr. Fred
White and his leadership in helping us to refine further, exactly what we mean by engaged learning and how we can fund it and support it, starting with internships as sort of an obvious
example of engaged learning, all the way through engaged
learning in your curriculum. And then of course, a great commitment to
academic seriousness. Again here, just a few things that I can, that are easy to point
to, that are measurable, doesn’t say anything
about the informal things that are so important that
you faculty do relentlessly to create that academically
serious environment but you see the investments we’ve made in full-time faculty
over the last few years. You see what’s happened
to our retention rates, what’s happened to our completion rates. Now 30% is not great, folks,
and we have to own that. Now there’s some problems with the way we measure completion
rates against our mission, IPEDS data is a very
faulty instrument for us but it’s the instrument
of use in the nation, we have to be cognizant of that. But I would point out to the progress of just in a few years,
coming from 17 to 30%, nearly a doubling of our completion rate. We are definitely headed
in the right direction but we’ve all got to work together to make sure that we
move that needle more, even more aggressively, on
getting our students finished. And then of course, the array of things. Again, I could just give
you a taste, a flavor, of the awards that our
students are winning, our faculty are winning, that are making us nationally recognized, how much more competitive we’re
getting for graduate school, for top job placements. I see what’s happening around, just in my own presidential
internship program. The quality of the
student, their abilities, is just remarkable and
growing every single year. And then, this all kind
of culminates together in this very unique dual mission, that we are doing it, folks. It was something of a hypothesis. Could this happen? It’s working. We have built out a really
terrific teaching university now. 75 bachelor’s degrees,
eight masters degrees, structured enrollment, students who are better and better prepared,
coming in the front door. At the same time, we are open admissions. We have a brilliant
community college mission, side by side with associates
degrees and certificates and lots of current technical education and these two things are working together and folks, the students
are voting with their feet. We’ve become the largest
institution of higher learning in the state of Utah and we are going to continue to grow. We will never be caught, we will continue to be
the largest, I believe, in perpetuity, in this state and again, we’re not seeking to be large for the sake of being large or to boast, but I do think we can wear it proudly as a function of the fact that students are finding
great success here. We have the programs they need, it’s launching the into the careers and the lives they would like to have and they’re coming and they’re staying. And that’s, I think, a
really important point. It’s not just that we’re getting bigger, we’re getting better. You can see what’s happened to the increase in our academic
awards over the last few years, but this next graph for
me, is even more telling. Look at where we are, relative to other institutions
in the state system. In just the last five years, the change of numbers of academic awards. We’ve outstripped every other institution and by the way, folks, this is not a function of
our growth and demographics. If you roll the tape back five years, our enrollment’s not that
different than what it is today. Remember, we went through that dip because of the economy and
the missionary age change. So really, about the same
number of students in the system as there were five years ago. We have gotten better,
you have gotten better, our staff has gotten better at pulling these students through, providing the programs they want inspiring them to finish, bringing them across to a victorious end of their academic experience here that my friends, is a
tremendous accomplishment and it’s thanks to you. I just have to applaud what
you’re doing, please, join me. (audience applauds) So, a few years ago, I showed
you something similar to this. I think it’s worth revisiting. It’s a powerful graphic,
data-driven illustration of just how unique this UVU mission is. So we start with this map of all institutions in the nation that offer bachelors, masters
and associates degrees. There are about 3000 institutions
like that in the nation and the colors represent
the breakdown of degrees within an institution. Then you can start to play with this data and you can start to
see, okay, let’s take it, let’s just look at institutions
that have a headcount of more than 10,000. You go from 3000 to 380. So that starts to tell
you just how unique it is, just our size, compared
to so many institutions that try to do what we do. Then you look at public versus private, which has its own dynamic. You go down to 284 institutions. And then you look at those
that are still open admissions. There are 30 institutions left, again, that start to meet
that overall profile. And then you look at those that have, let’s just look at those that have 10% bachelors and 10% associates and you’re down to about
a dozen institutions. You see something going on in Florida, and you can’t really see it on the map, but it’s in Alaska. Florida’s starting to follow
the model that UVU has been on for 20 years now and having
some success with that. Then you look at, okay,
let’s go from 10% to 20%. And you’re down to four institutions and then finally, look at 25%, and we’re the last institution
standing, over 30,000. And by the way, our ratios
are something more like 40/60. There’s not another institution
anywhere in this nation doing what we’re trying to do
with this unique dual mission on the size and scale that we’re doing it. And again, it’s working. The students are coming
and they’re completing. (audience applauds) So we have a lot to celebrate and in the spirit of Courtney’s comments, one of the things I love is
that the culminating moment of our 75th anniversary will not be about necessarily statistics or anything, it’s going
to be a work of art. It’s going to be the unveiling
of the Roots of Knowledge windows in our library by Tom Holdman. This is an extraordinary piece of art. I think it’s a piece of
art that’s for the ages. 200 feet long, 80 panels, 80,000 pieces of different stained glass that represent the highest
human achievements in art, architecture, music, literature, science, law, philosophy, theology, it’s all there. Maybe not all of it’s there,
but you get the picture. It’s as creative and
beautiful and artistic a work as I’ve seen in this state, frankly and what I love about it is it’s not just the function
of the mind of Tom Holdman, it’s the function of
the mind of our faculty, many of you that I can
see in the audience today are part of the committee
that’s helped with this. We’ve had over 400 students
involved in this project, so is it an engaged learning project? Absolutely. Is it inclusive? Yes, it represents all those disciplines as reflected in the innovations that come from the Middle East, the
ancient world, the modern world, North America, South America, so it’s got that inclusive feel to it and it’s absolutely serious. It really is the representation
of those finest things that we study, that we think
about, at a university. That will be unveiled on November 18th, I hope you’ll mark that on your calendars and look forward to that as again, our culminating moment of this
year, of 75th anniversary. Here’s a few glimpses
of some of those panes that again, is gonna start with the beginning of time, if you will, on up through our contemporary day today. So, with that, I do want
to say as I wrap up here, something about the future. So we’ve had a fantastic 75 years but as I’ve said before, our best days, our best accomplishments are ahead of us. And so as we look, take this vista from Mount Timpanogos
which sits in our seal, what do we have to look
forward to in the future? Well there’s some very exciting things in the immediate future. Very shortly we’re gonna cut the ribbon on a new center for autism, one of the great issues
facing our community today. We’re gonna cut the ribbon on a new basketball practice facility for a team that I think, I just am so excited about what this team is going to achieve this year and by the way, while I’m at it, I will mention that our soccer team was just ranked 28th in the nation. Not bad for a team that’s only
been around for four years. (audience applauds)
Thank you. For Courtney and her colleagues, we’re building a new
performing arts center and we will be breaking the
ground for that on December 1st. Another big project beyond that will be a new business school
and a new campus front. But we’ve got needs beyond that and so we’ve bought this
property out at Vineyard, I’ll just give you a very quick update on the master planning process here. We came to you, in a series of exchanges in faculty senate, in public meetings with faculty and staff, to get your input about what we do with the Vineyard property and four models were developed. Is it a feeder campus? We kind of have the
community college out there, and do more university work here. Do we have a dual location? Just kind of develop things as they will but have students back and forth. Or is it a specialty campus with kind of unique
standalone programs out there, or is it a service and support campus? By far, the data came through that the favored plan was
for a specialty campus. Those things that could go out there and be kind of standalone where you don’t have to have
a lot of back and forth. It’s still, even though it’s connected with public transportation,
still kind of a challenge and a disruption to get back and forth. So that’s the direction we’re going. We’re designing it for
specialty campus space but also supplementing it
with services and support. We can move some of our services and support activities out to Vineyard, then we can create more
space on this main campus to keep the academic
integrity of a university and in the spirit, again,
of Chris’s remarks, where we want collaboration
across disciplines so we really don’t wanna
put business out at Vineyard and have the arts be here. We want to have you guys
be working side by side and collaborating together and
that means making more use, even out of the space that we’ve got. So, we’ll move out academic
specialty buildings, we’ll have a community
engagement park out there, a lot of athletics and student life, not the day to day student life but some student life support things like intramural sports,
could move out there and then some facilities, our
warehousing and other things that again, could free up some space here. That gives you, just again, a very initial rudimentary glimpse of kind of where things
might go in the beginning, a more detailed look at
this a little bit later. Bit that does create some space that we need for some
other new facilities. We are very shortly,
going to grow out of room for our school of education. We need today, expanded space
for computing and technology. We’re going to have
significant growth going, when we look at the data, we see what’s happening
in the health professions, what we’re going to have to
do to expand west campus. So that means, even though we went into this master planning the Vineard campus, we’ve got to really look at our master plan here at the main campus and we’ve got to do some structural things so that we can handle even
more traffic and energy here. So we’re talking about a
new freeway interchange on the north end of campus. We’re talking about a pedestrian bridge that will connect west
campus and the main campus. (audience applauds) Wow, if I’d had known instant applause, we would have decided that years ago. And a new interchange off of I-15, heading northbound, directly into campus to break some of the
traffic bottlenecks there and of course, building
out satellite campuses at Thanksgiving Point and Payson which we are just solidifying
the final arrangements there for 30 acres at Payson. With all of that, again,
that’s very brief, there’s a lot of thinking that’s gone on, a lot of interaction with faculty and staff and administration, working with planners and trustees, our work is not finished but I wanted to give you a glimpse of where we’re headed, folks. We’ve just started to scratch the surface of what this university
is and what it can become and I think it will especially
remain exciting and vibrant if we will stay true to this mission. This mission of a teaching university that draws the students in, inspires them, electrifies them and moves them forward, better prepared to serve
in their communities, earn a living, enjoy the
richness of the life around them. That’s what we’re about. It’s not as exciting as buildings are, as programs are, as statistics are, at the end of the day,
it’s about the students and I want to just close with one brief glimpse
of a student on this. This is maybe not the
most inspirational story but I wanted to use it
because it’s just so timely, it shows how every single day, we’re working hard as an institution on this issue of student success. It’s the story of Joshua Felix. Yes, a week ago, yesterday, Joshua Felix got an
email from his employer saying that they were in the
midst of corporate downsizing and he was being let go
with a month’s salary. He’s a young guy, he’s
married, he has children and he was all of a sudden, put in a sort of strait of desperation. Two days later, he got an email
from Utah Valley University, as part of our Some
College, No Degree program. He’s just a few classes shy of a degree and as a result of our
commitment to student success and a combination of faculty culture and staff diligence, we
reached out to this guy and said hey, come back and
finish your degree here at UVU. He came in, he met with counselors. He’s met with faculty, he’s
got an internship set up. With tears in his eyes at our Student Success Center he said, for years I’ve been
struggling professionally because every time I try to get a more stable form of employment, I’m turned down because
they say, we like you, but you don’t have a degree. This is going to change his life and it’s not even the
most transformative story I could share with you today. You know those stories. These are your students. They’re in and out of your lives. I don’t have to detail them for you. I just want to remind us collectively, that’s what we’re about. We’re about changing those student’s lives and doing it on scale and that’s what’s gonna be exciting and motivating and inspirational
for the next 75 years. I couldn’t be more grateful and honored to be your colleague in this
critical, important, noble work and look forward to the future which is as as bright and exciting as any I’ve ever felt. Thank you very much. (audience applauds)

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