Dual Mission Education Institutes in Higher Education

As higher education faces declining enrollment numbers, reduced state funding, and accusations that it is elitist and out of reach for many Americans, university presidents, chancellors, and system heads from Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, and Utah, discussed new and innovative models of education that are addressing some of higher ed’s greatest challenges and the shortage of skilled workers. The dual education model can help universities save costs by sharing staff, faculty and infrastructure (it is essentially two schools for the price of one) and keep tuition low. It also allows students who start on a community college track to easily transfer their credits if they choose to continue their studies towards an advanced degree, and to do so much more seamlessly than if they were to transfer to a different school. Additionally, its open admissions policy means more underrepresented populations are getting a shot at a degree in higher education. 

The summit was hosted by Utah Governor Gary Herbert, the Utah State Board of Regents and UVU President Matthew Holland

With higher education increasingly in the cross-hairs, the summit provided a lively and timely debate on the future of higher ed and how to provide improved access to quality programs for students across the spectrum of need and opportunity. The following are transcripts from the conversation and links to the video.


The Dual-Mission Model: Stories from Utah



Moderator: Dr. David L. Buhler
Utah Commissioner of Higher Education

The Honorable Gary R. Herbert 
Governor of the State of Utah

Utah State Senator Ann Millner 
Former President of Weber State University

President Matthew S. Holland 
Utah Valley University

President Richard (Biff) Williams
Dixie State University


Gov. Herbert:

“I’ve seen the change that has occurred here from just a technical college to this full-blown university, which has a community college that’s embedded inside of it.  So, I’m excited about what we’ve learned in this evolution and what we’re going to learn from other people.” [4:01-4:15]


“We know we cannot continue to have long-term, sustained economic growth and development if we don’t have a labor force that has the skills necessary that will line up with the demands of the global marketplace we face today, so alignment’s a big part of this effort. … This dual-mission model allows universities to be a little more nimble. And again, that marketplace we all know is changing dramatically, and the nimbleness—the ability to adjust—I think is a significant aspect and one of the qualities of the dual-mission model that we need to explore.” [6:23-7:05)


Senator Millner:

“Why does this work? I think it’s because there’s seamless articulation from two to four [years]. Students don’t have to start over; they don’t have to repeat courses. They have a very seamless experience. We have academic support for everyone at all levels; they don’t have to re-orient to the campus environment when they think about making that change from the two to the four and then not reapplying.  It’s a very natural kind of support system that’s provided for them.  They know where things are, they know faculty on the campus, they’ve got their support system embedded.  It’s truly very student and community focused, and it’s cost effective for students…. I think that our students benefit, our community’s benefited, and the state’s benefited.” [20:30-21:30


Pres. Holland:

“Our greatest growth rate is coming actually in our junior and senior class. So this is not just the fact that we live in a fast growing part of the nation. This is a testament to the mission that’s working. Students are coming, they’re staying, they’re graduating. They’re not transferring out, they are transferring in. But a lot of this is just specifically those students who come here thinking they are just a community college student and they’re going to do a certificate or a two-year degree and realize they’re doing it at a university, they can compete, they like the environment, they like the Roots of Knowledge windows, they like taking a course on poetry they never had an idea about, and so they’re making the most of it.” [40:22-41:05]


“I could tell you over and over again across multiple disciplines of students who come in to study aviation, or in the trades, or in personal financial planning, or in sales—or in any of these areas where we’ve shown that there’s a workforce need for it—where they’ve come and they’ve started, worked on stackable credentials, but are competing—because they’re at a serious university—on a national scale and doing incredible things. That for us is why we do what we do, and that’s what we think is the power of the dual mission because it allows us to do this on scale to the tune now of 37-38,000 students.” [42:41-43:20]



The Dual-Mission Model: Emerging U.S. and International Stories



Moderator: Dr. Paul Thompson
UVU Trustee and Former President of Weber State University

Dr. Raymond Cross
President, University of Wisconsin System

Dr. Steve Wrigley
Chancellor, University System of Georgia

President Joel Ward
Red Deer College, Alberta, Canada

Sara Lipka
Senior Editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education


Dr. Cross:

“We felt like we had to do something in order to retain access…. Obviously, you can’t have access without affordability.  The tuition at these two-year campuses is about half to two-thirds of what it is at these four-year institutions. Our commitment is to retain that pricing structure so students…would still pay that lower rate.” [7:50-8:22]


“There is not a synchronized process that makes sense to serve the people in our state.  And that’s part of the challenge, and you can’t change that in a moment because of our history, but we are working on that slowly. And that will take time. And the barriers to that are just like trying to merge two high schools.” [57:31-57:52]


Dr. Wrigley:

“I feel like where our institutions have combined, where we have dual-function institutions, they’re doing very well, and students are being served better. They’ve gotten access to more degrees…. We can expand disciplines. So there’s a lot of advantages in our case to going to the dual-function model, and I was very interested to hear about the situation here and the history here. I think this really is the wave of the future to serve students in the way that we need to serve them.” [24:18-24:38]


“I do think we’ve got to be a lot more adaptable and flexible than we’ve typically been in public higher education.” [1:02:22-1:02:29]


Pres. Ward:

“One day I read…Dr. Holland’s story and Utah Valley, and so I thought I’d just pick up the phone, which I did.  And I called Matthew, and I said, tell me about your journey, tell me about the dual mission, because we believe very much in that mission. We will be a comprehensive regional teaching institution, which will offer both certificates, diplomas, trades and apprenticeship, and the whole entire sector of degrees that we need in our community and in our region.” [30:40-31:14]


“We measure success by who we let in, not by who we keep out. That’s how you measure success. That’s how you change lives. That’s how people have opportunities to improve their lot in life and to make good choices and good decisions…. So I call our model “Hotel California.” You can check in, but you can’t check out until you meet the standards of the program that you’re in. And so I often say to our community,…if you’re qualified, we’ll take you, and if you’re not qualified, we’ll get you qualified.” [33:56-34:45]


“We will continue to protect the dual-mission model…. We will continue to offer all that we do plus degrees because that’s what’s needed in our region, that’s what’s needed for our students, that’s what’s needed for our communities, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.” [41:35-41:52]