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OREM — Utah Valley University President Matthew Holland has earned the Executive of the Year award from an education news service, which cited his aligning of the university's mission to better prepare students for the state's workforce.
Holland, who took the helm at UVU in 2009, won the award from Education Dive, an industry leader news source with about 29,000 readers. Those readers were asked to suggest nominees who are the "top disruptors and innovators" nationwide, UVU spokesman Layton Shumway said Tuesday.
"With the help of a panel of industry insiders, winners were chosen by the editors of Education Dive based on resonance and industry impact," he said in a statement.
The article announcing the award praises Holland for maximizing UVU students' ability to benefit Utah's economy.
"It’s really easy for a leader to come in and declare that an institution will be top-tier by the end of his tenure," the article states. "What’s not so easy, and significantly less popular, is for a leader to assess the needs of the state and its industry and say the needs of the college will focus on the needs of the state, namely being a workforce development college that happens to offer bachelor’s degrees, rather than what’s popular in academe."
Education Dive quoted a previous interview with Holland in which he explained the priorities of the university.
“We’ve got this scrappy, industrial, kind of can-do attitude that’s kind of been with us from the beginning,” Holland is quoted as saying. “We’re retaining this attitude that got us started … but we’ve also grown as a university, as an economy. Even as we hold onto that vocational effort of the past, we’ve also been trying to modify that with the idea (of) building on those roots to something even more magnificent and sweeping in terms of broadening our commitment to the brightest and best field of human endeavor.”
Elaine Dalton, chairwoman of the UVU board of trustees, called Holland "an impressive leader" Tuesday.
“His vision for UVU has allowed us to maintain our roots as an engaged and inclusive vocational community college while growing into a serious university focused on student success," Dalton said in a statement. "President Holland’s championing of this unique dual model has provided a way to keep costs low and is a major factor behind our growth to become Utah’s largest university.”
More than 35,000 students are currently enrolled at UVU.
Autumn Arnett, editor of Education Dive, said Holland's community-minded approach to education helped distinguish him as the top education executive in 2016.
“I was really impressed with Dr. Holland’s commitment to doing what’s best for the state — even over his own career interests — in outlining Utah Valley’s instructional direction," Arnett said in a statement. "It’s precisely this type of leadership that I think the spirit of this award represents.”