50 years and 900K-plus college credentials later, Utah State Board of Regents wraps its service

Regent Marlin Jensen listens to University of Utah President Ruth Watkins speak during the Utah State Board of Regents public hearing about tuition increases at Salt Lake Community College in Sandy on Thursday, March 28, 2019.

Regent Marlin Jensen listens to University of Utah President Ruth Watkins speak during the Utah State Board of Regents’ public hearing about tuition increases on Thursday, March 28, 2019, at Salt Lake Community College’s campus in Sandy. | Deseret News archives

Higher education board service helped launch political careers, replacement board convenes Wednesday

SALT LAKE CITY — As the Utah State Board of Regents convened its final scheduled meeting, Chairman Harris Simmons described the day as a “bittersweet” and “historical.”

Governance of Utah’s public colleges and universities isn’t going away. It has been reimagined as the Utah Board of Higher Education, an 18-member board that will oversee public, degree-granting colleges and universities as well as the state’s eight technical colleges. The new board’s first meeting is Wednesday morning.

Simmons’ father, Roy W. Simmons, was on the inaugural board of regents while his son served on the final board, a father-and-son bookends of sorts.

“All right, that’s the end of it, (a) long chapter,” Harris Simmons said as the board voted to adjourn for the final time.

The Utah State Board of Regents was created under the Utah Legislature’s Utah Higher Education Act of 1969 to “improve the welfare and education of Utah citizens.”

Peter W. Billings, the board’s inaugural chairman, noted in the board’s first annual report that its major achievement was taking a statewide view of the state’s colleges and universities.

“We are not serving as representatives of a particular institution or a particular geographic area, but as citizens of Utah interested in the welfare of the entire system,” he wrote.

A resolution recently approved by the board points to several of the system’s highlights.

It began in the fall of 1969, serving about 48,000 students.

To start, the board oversaw nine member institutions: the University of Utah, Utah State University, Snow College, Weber State College, Southern Utah State College, Dixie Junior College, College of Eastern Utah, Utah Technical College at Provo and Utah Technical College at Salt Lake.

At the time, the state’s population was just over 1 million.

Fast forward to 2020 and the state’s population exceeds 3.2 million people. The higher education systems includes eight member institutions, which include two research universities, the University of Utah and Utah State University; four regional universities, Weber State University, Southern Utah University, Utah Valley University and Dixie State University; and two comprehensive community colleges Snow College and Salt Lake Community College. The College of Eastern Utah is now under the Utah State University umbrella.

By fall 2018, Utah System of Higher Education colleges and universities had a combined headcount enrollment of 189,093 students.

As enrollment has grown steadily over the past five decades, Utah’s public college and university campuses have also become increasingly diverse.

In fall of 1998, only 6.4% of students at Utah’s public colleges and universities were students of color. That climbed to 20% by 2018.

Numbers of Hispanic students enrolled in Utah’s public colleges and universities climbed nearly 600% between fall 1998 and fall 2018, up from 3,140 to 21,900.

For the same period, the number of black students increased …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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