I’ve been a University of Utah fan as long as I can remember. Before I could so much as talk, I had Ute gear and merchandise hung up in my closet and scattered around my room. I was 15 when the U joined the Pac-12 — a conference that plays host to schools like Stanford, UCLA, Oregon and Arizona — highly accredited academic universities with some of the best sports teams in the nation. I was ecstatic. Since our acceptance into the Pac-12 in 2011, I’ve been able to watch our university develop in size, recruit more broadly and generate higher acclaim than it has ever seen in almost all areas. Over the past three years I’ve attended the U, immersed in such a prestigious conference and the benefits that come with it, I’ve had the privilege of growing alongside our beloved university. It’s a great time to join such an evolving institution.
What is one of the most necessary means for growth and improvement within an institution? You guessed it: money. Going to a Pac-12 school generally equates to increases in overall funding. Tuition is higher, donations are greater and more frequent, sports generate more revenue, etc. While price hikes in student fees can be a pain, it’s important to remember where that money is going. At the U, we’re seeing major developments on campus. Outdated buildings are finally being replaced with modern, efficient educational facilities. Parking is getting better with new, safe garage structures. Improvements and additions to student housing are being made. And let’s not forget the nearly brand-new Student Life Center — a seamless piece of architecture intended to promote healthy lifestyles among our student body with everything from pools, courts for sports of all kinds, a state-of-the-art rock climbing gym and weight lifting equipment. With all of our campus advancements, we’re definitely starting to look like a Pac-12 school.
In addition to facilities and infrastructure, funding also helps to promote recruitment, academically and athletically. More scholarships, in addition to university resource and facility improvements, means more recruitment opportunities. Over the years, our athletic programs have been utilizing their Pac-12 status to recruit players from all over the country, leading to highly respectable sports teams that compete against traditionally some of the best football, softball, gymnastics, etc. teams in the country. With that level of elite competition, the U has been able to draw in even more revenue from fans and sponsors to put towards school improvements across the board.
Student and staff recruitment has also grown thanks to increases in institutional esteem. We have the largest incoming freshmen class the U has ever seen, and with that comes more opportunities for great academic success among the student body, giving students greater credibility when considering graduate school or entering into the workforce following graduation. With more students contributing to an elite academic body, along with more money, the standards have risen for professors and staff members as well, leading to better overall academic and professional experiences for everyone.
The U is an educational and athletic institution of great standing that is only expected to grow as the years go by. It faced a substantial increase in expectations once it joined the Pac-12, and it has done an exceptional job of meeting those expectations over the past six years. There is no reason to believe that the U won’t continue to improve on all fronts as it becomes more accredited in years to come. Now is a prime time to join and be a part of the U. Advancements are being made left and right thanks to the benefits that have come from joining such a noteworthy conference, and there is more opportunity within and beyond the institution for students, athletes and staff alike than we’ve ever seen.