USHE prioritizes funding for initiatives that meet critical market demands

The Utah System of Higher Education is the primary provider of talent for Utah’s workforce and economy. This includes short-term skill training for a certificate, associate degree, baccalaureate, and graduate programs. The Board of Regents budget request for 2016-17 includes a priority for Market Demand programs, which would assist institutions in meeting the most pressing demands of employers in a number of industries, including computer science, aerospace engineering, composite manufacturing, automation and robotics, respiratory therapy, and health information management.

Market Demand Program Initiatives Budget Request: $10,000,000

Utah’s economy is greatly benefitted by the work conducted by the graduate programs at the state’s two Research I universities, the University of Utah and Utah State University, including over $656 million in outside dollars for research and other grant funding annually. In 2015 the Legislature funded $4 million of a $10 million request to enhance the graduate missions of these two institutions. The Board of Regents is requesting $10 million: $6 million for the University of Utah and Utah State University to complete the graduate program initiative partially funded in 2015 and $4 million for the regional universities and community colleges to help meet critical market demands.

At the last Board of Regents meeting, each USHE institution was asked to assess their campus needs and develop initiatives in support of the market demand budget request. These initiatives include:

  1. Professional and graduate support in high demand areas;
  2. Research support,
  3. New STEM programs,
  4. Health sciences program support; and
  5. Computer science and information technology support

University of Utah

Professional & Graduate Program Growth- High Demand Areas:
The University of Utah educates many of the students who receive advanced professional and graduate degrees in fields, which are in high demand by Utah businesses and industries. At the present time we cannot meet the demand for admission to many of these programs. The primary purpose of this funding is to allow the University to hire additional faculty to increase the number of students who can be admitted into fields like nursing and other health science fields, information systems, media arts, and other STEM fields.

Research Excellence:
Funding will also be used to recruit and retain faculty in departments where we have PhD/Research programs that are of strategic importance to Utah’s future. As Utah’s only university currently classified as a very high research institution, it is important that we not only maintain the quality of our research faculty and education program as compared to peer institutions, but that we strive to increase our prestige and research funding. To accomplish this, we must recruit and be able to retain top faculty in strategic research areas. The Transformative Excellence Program (TEP) allows us to build strength in strategic interdisciplinary areas that will enhance our preeminence. These faculty are the key to successful education of future researchers and faculty who will carry out the discoveries needed for innovation and commercialization.

Graduate Program Expansion and Support:
As a research institution, the U’s mission includes educating future faculty. Top graduate students in Ph.D. programs receive graduate stipends as part of their participation in Ph.D. education. The resources to fund these stipends have not kept pace with amounts needed to match the national average for Ph.D. students. This leaves us at a disadvantage for recruiting the caliber of graduate students we need both to maintain the prestige of our programs and to retain quality faculty. We need to be able to recruit talented students and expand student recruitment in key areas, such as STEM, to meet needs of the workforce including the next generation of STEM faculty. The additional graduate students in key areas will also help us to be able to increase the support for undergraduate students as these graduate students fulfill the teaching part of their training.

Research Information and Database- Library:
Ready access to scientific databases and research publications is critical to the success of faculty and graduate students. As libraries transform the way they provide access to information, there is a need to upgrade equipment as well as to support subscriptions to online databases.

Research Systems Support- Core Facilities:
The University of Utah offers a number of core facilities that provide advanced technologies and equipment to researchers. The goal of cores is to make technology and expertise available to all faculty members and students. This allows institutional funds to be used efficiently across the research mission. Funding for support personnel, including directors with advanced training, will enhance the effectiveness of core services and operations.

Utah State University

New Faculty Lines to Expand Graduate Education:
Funding will be used to recruit and hire world-class faculty who will be directly tied to demand-driven graduate programs and will result in growth in the number and quality of graduate student applications and graduate student enrollment. Prioritization of hires in targeted areas will be done after careful consultation with external stakeholders, including outside advisory boards and the USU Board of Trustees. With several new graduate programs actively under development, this funding will provide a catalyst for growth across several of Utah’s high priority areas. Examples of these programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Food Science MS & PhD programs
  • Master of Human Resources Professional program
  • Master of Public Health Professional program
  • Aerospace Engineering PhD

Expanding and Enhancing Graduate Student Education:

Expansion of the Graduate Research Training Programs for PhD and MS Degrees
Graduate students are a critical part of a university’s engine of innovation. In research-based degree programs, this workforce is limited by the number of competitive assistantships that are available to recruit and support outstanding students. Funds will be used to recruit the best students, to create nationally competitive graduate assistantships that include both research and teaching expectations, and to expand efforts to link STEM training with other fields. A primary focus of this funding will be to increase the number of students in USU’s Presidential Doctoral Research Fellowship program, the X-STEM Assistantship program, and the RGS Assistantship program.

Graduate Dissertation Enhancement Awards
Graduate Dissertation Enhancement funding provides opportunity for PhD students to augment their dissertation research. This program, which is modeled after an existing NSF best practice, cannot serve as the primary source of funding for a dissertation, but instead should support a clearly defined activity that will enhance an existing body of research that comprises the core of the dissertation.

Graduate Dissertation Fellowships
Completion of the dissertation can be a serious challenge for students who are working to support themselves or a family. Graduate Dissertation Fellowships relieve outstanding doctoral students from some part of their teaching or research obligations in order to provide them additional time to draft, revise, and complete their dissertations and 6 GLS/BLS 12/25/2015 enter the professional workplace for which they are trained. Candidates will be selected from departmental nominations.

Research Library Support:
The USU Merrill-Cazier Library plays a lead role in training graduate students to access research data. Graduate training is also strongly based on broad access to online published resources, as well as specialized archived resources. The university is increasingly stretched to meet these many obligations.

Weber State University

Additional Faculty Members in Computer Science:
Data from the third week of Fall semester 2015 indicate that WSU’s Computer Science Department has 1,220 majors. The department employs 15 faculty members, resulting in a faculty/student ratio of 81.33 to one.

Additional Faculty Member in Radiologic Science Department:
This faculty member would assist the department in meeting the needs of outreach to rural communities and help in creating pathways for BS and MS students. Such pathways will result in a greater number of publications, graduating students, and enhance the department’s ability to produce appropriately-credentialed graduates to meet market demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of about 21 percent between 2012 and 2022 for this profession, and 41,500 new positions will need to be filled.

Four new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Education Faculty and a Support Staff Member for the Center for Science and Math Education:
New faculty members will include two math educators, one life-science educator, and one engineering/technology educator. Supplementary salary will be needed to bring a part-time support staff member to full-time. This staff member facilitates the work of these faculty and of the Center for Science and Math Education.

New Faculty Member in Supply Chain Management:
A new faculty member in SCM would allow us to address enrollment bottlenecks currently affecting at least two courses. Eliminating the bottlenecks will increase our 6-year graduation efficiency, thereby allowing us to produce highly-employable graduates in this area.

New Faculty Member in American Sign Language (ASL):
A new faculty member in ASL would allow us to move from offering an associate’s degree in ASL to offering a bachelor’s degree (required to sit for the National Interpreting Certification exam).

Southern Utah University

Business Courses:
Increase the number of course offerings in high demand business programs through hiring additional accounting, finance and communication faculty. Fuel entrepreneurship and business development in rural Utah.

Snow College

Composite Manufacturing:
The College would purchase additional manufacturing equipment including a laser cutting table, an autoclave, and a better refrigeration system to provide students in our area an opportunity for training on machines that are industry standard.

Attract and Prepare Students for Market Demand Programs:
Snow College will continue to expand its current market demand efforts as well as the creation of new market demand efforts as needs arise. Snow College has an excellent K16 Alliance program and works closely with our six-county service area on preparation for STEM and other market demand programs. Visits are made to local schools and outreach programs have and will be created to encourage applications to college and preparing for careers in STEM and other high demand programs. Market demand programs require math proficiency and we would like to increase our efforts (training and conferences) in working with local math teachers in sharing best practices for teaching students and preparing them for College. While there has been a national emphasis on STEM preparation, a growing concern from higher education, employers, and government is the need for students to develop “soft skills”— attributes of judgment, ethics, keen communications skills, leadership, and other interpersonal skills. These elements require a sound General Education program that is deliberate in its attempts to focus on big questions, integrative learning, problem solving and written and oral communication. We are developing a foundations course that will be required of all students that focuses on these characteristics of liberal education. We are creating new biology courses to fulfill the life sciences requirement and to introduce students to the excitement and wonder of science. The courses will focus on particular specializations of biology that are designed to attract students to science that go beyond the usual general biology, anatomy and human biology courses. We just completed a study looking at our allied health programs and are finding ways that we can offer more spots for students in our RN program. We have expended business offerings to match the needs of our six-county area, including programs in agribusiness, rural business and entrepreneurship, and we are adding entrepreneurship components to programs in communications and computer science.

Dixie State University

New Academic programs:
One of the primary goals outlined in DSU’s recently completed strategic plan is the addition of baccalaureate majors and master’s degree programs over the next five years. Funding for Market Demand Programs will greatly assist with the effort to hire the necessary faculty to launch these new programs.

Utah Valley  University

Associate of Science Nursing Cohort Expansion:
Increase Associate of Science in Nursing cohort to produce more ASN graduates.

Computer Science/Information Systems Technology Programs:
Provide appropriate faculty, staff, and equipment support for high student and industry demand programs in computer science and information systems technology programs.

Engineering and Related Programs:
UVU continues to expand existing and develop new engineering and related programs in response to the engineering shortage in Utah.

Salt Lake Community College

Respiratory Therapy Technician Certificate of Completion and AAS Program:
Funding is needed to create a Respiratory Therapy Program. There is a current shortage for respiratory therapy technicians in the Salt Lake County service area. Based upon extensive discussion with major health care providers regarding immediate and long-term workforce needs, SLCC intends to develop a Respiratory Therapy Associates Degree Program to provide trained technicians in this high-demand area.

Hospital Management AAS Program:
The AAS Hospitality Management program is intended to meet this high market demand area. It will be designed to help incumbent workers gain the knowledge and skills necessary to move into higher-level management positions, thereby increasing their earning power. In addition, the program will be attractive to those interested in entering the hospitality management industry. To address the broad skill range that incoming students may bring, the program will be designed with theoretical foundations of critical aspects of hospitality management and will include industry-embedded learning opportunities in the form of job shadowing, cooperative work placements, and internships. The program will have a capstone requirement where students will work directly with industry partners.

IT Boot Camps Program:
SLCC intends to build capacity to effectively and efficiently provide IT coding bootcamps for adults and outreach opportunities for middle- and high-school students. This would expand and sustain efforts of the current Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership (IT) consortium grant to close skill gaps in critical IT coding job sector.

Media Inquiries

Trisha Dugovic
Communications Director