OREM, Utah — Utah Valley University (UVU) is celebrating a milestone victory as it achieved its “graduation” goal two years ahead of schedule. 

In 2019, shortly after President Astrid S. Tuminez’s arrival at UVU, university leaders set a collective goal to increase the school’s eight-year completion rate from 37% to 45%. Two years ahead of schedule, UVU’s completion rate is 46% reflecting an increase of 22% in the last five years. This rate builds on a record high one-year retention rate which increased from 65% to 70% during the same period.

These increases can be attributed to a campus-wide commitment to student success with a targeted focus on critical first-year support and engagement opportunities. “A UVU student’s journey begins with a comprehensive orientation, wrap-around support services, personalized advising, and multiple ways for students to get involved and find a sense of belonging,” said Dr. Michelle Kearns, UVU’s vice president for Student Affairs. 

One of these early success strategies is the First-Year Advising Center (FAC) UVU launched in the spring of 2020. Approximately 29% of full-time, first-year students drop out of college in their freshman year, according to a 2023 study by the Education Data Initiative.

“Designed to help students navigate the crucial first year, advisors in the FAC help eliminate the anxiety and intimidation that often come with enrolling in college,” said Dr. David Connelly, associate provost for Student Success at UVU. “The First-Year Advising Center is building a foundation for future success and timely completion.”

Another successful resource is the Early Alert program, which utilizes data, AI, faculty members, and peer mentors to intervene when a student is struggling. “The key to this strategy is data-informed personalized support ‘just-in-time,” says Kearns. “It’s a highly effective effort to connect students to the wealth of support and services available to UVU students.” Last year over 4,400 early alerts were submitted.

“UVU is an open-enrollment university, meaning that education is for everyone, and all applicants are accepted,” said Connelly. “We tell potential students to ‘Come as you are,’ meaning all students are welcome to attend UVU; we will meet students where they are and build from there.”

Graduation and retention numbers are critical measures of an institution’s success. More importantly, “Every percent increase in our completion rate means approximately 100 more UVU students will be on the path to a brighter future,” said Kearns.

The university’s next goal is to reach a 50% graduation rate by 2030. These numbers reflect the National Center for Educational Statistics’ IPEDS 8-year outcome measure.

About Utah Valley University

At Utah Valley University, we believe everyone deserves the transforming benefits of high-quality education — and it needs to be affordable, accessible, and flexible. With opportunities to earn everything from certificates to master’s degrees, our students succeed by gaining real-world experience and developing career-ready skills. We continue to invite people to come as they are — and leave ready and prepared to make a difference in the world.

For more information, visit UVU’s Newsroom website for fact sheets, maps, leadership bios, history, photos, b-roll, filming policies, and a list of interview-ready faculty experts at https://www.uvu.edu/newsroom/# or scan this QR code.