November 27, 2020

Utah does not need nine U of U’s; it must define each college’s mission

Recognizing that community college tuition is too high and that barriers still exist for many who seek admission to Utah’s higher education institutions were some of the thoughts Norm Jones, chair of the Board of Regents; Task Force on General Education, discussed on Friday in Salt Lake City.
Six faculty members from CEU joined other faculty from throughout Utah and Idaho to hear a panel of educators discuss issues facing higher education in Utah today.
Jones, who opened the Regents’ “What is an Educated Person” conference for higher education faculty, defined where he foresaw education in Utah going. “We must hire good commissioners and good college presidents,” he said, “but I worry a lot about community college tuition being too high compared to the other community colleges in the Western U.S.”
Out of 100 ninth graders, 83 will graduate from high school. Thirty-six will continue on to college and within three years, 17 will graduate with associate’s degrees or bachelor’s degrees. We need to align our education system with our students to get a better end result.
“I worry about the management of the education system. I think we are structurally out of balance in the tax system regarding the funding of education. We need to show people that we give value for our dollar.
“We do not need nine University of Utahs in this state. We cannot afford nine U of U’s. Every school has a different role and they must define those missions at each individual college. The Regents must be disciplined to allow each college to maintain its mission as part of Utah’s higher education system. A good system will graduate good students,” he said.
Norm Karras, chair of the Regents, talked about the disconnection between education at K-12 schools and higher education. “Almost 35 percent of university students and 66 percent of community college students have language and math deficiencies and take remedial classes. We must align the two systems better so this does not happen.”
Cody Jones, Weber State University student body president, talked from student’s perspectives about higher education. He thought the evaluation process should include faculty, staff, advisers and all employees of higher education. He knows it is hard to terminate employees, but has heard a lot of complaints by students and wants evaluation policies for everyone on all campuses. He understands this is a complicated process but must be done to ensure student’s success and well-being.
He thought all faculty should take a class on how to teach and alternative ways of teaching methods. He thinks it will help professors become better teachers. He realizes that they don’t have all of the answers but a lot of faculty need more training on getting the message to the students better.
He would like to see a blind grading system in colleges. “I do not want the faculty to see names on student’s papers, tests, assignments, just an ID number. I think that would be a more fair system of grading for students.
Hope Eccles, Gov. Jon Huntsman’s adviser on higher education, was new to her position and said that education is critical to our state. She said that she was so new at her job, that she still had a lot to learn before she could address Utah’s educational concerns.

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