The Utah Women and Education Initiative (UWEI), which launches its website at www.utahwomenandeducation.org today, will be led by Director, Mary Ann Holladay and Senior Advisor, Dr. Susan R. Madsen. It is an outgrowth of the Utah Women’s College Task Force (UWCTF) convened by Governor Gary Herbert in 2011 to make recommendations that would lead to an increased number of women attending college and completing postsecondary degrees in Utah. In 2012, the Utah Legislature appropriated $100,000 in funding for the Utah State Board of Regents to implement the task force recommendations, which included establishing the Utah Women and Education Initiative.
Housed at the offices of the Commissioner of Higher Education, the charge of UWEI is to implement the 10 key recommendations that came out of the UWCTF. The recommendations include, promoting post-secondary education for women in Utah, creating a “college-going” culture for women in Utah, creating women-focused mentoring programs, retaining current female students enrolled at Utah institutions of higher education, and creating flexible attendance and credit options for students who balance education, family, and work. The complete list of recommendations can be found at www.utahwomenandeducation.org
According to Dr. Susan R. Madsen, who is the Orin R. Woodbury Professor of Leadership and Ethics in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University, “a college education is more than a gateway to an affluent lifestyle. Earning a college degree has implications far beyond the workplace. The non-tangible benefits of receiving a college degree are equivalent to the monetary ones, and they extend from individuals to families and communities.” Among other benefits, Dr. Madsen cites research that shows the following advantages for collegeeducated women: a healthier lifestyle, increased life satisfaction, better lifelong learning skills, better decision-making skills, increased civic and community engagement, and heightened self-esteem.
The Utah Women and Education Initiative will coordinate with other efforts at the Board of Regents, the Governor’s Office, and the Utah State Office of Education to achieve the state’s “big goal” that by 2020, 66% of Utahns aged 25-64 have a postsecondary degree or certificate. This goal, which has been adopted by the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission, is essential for the state’s workforce to compete in the current knowledge-based and global economy, and for individuals and families to reach their highest potential. In order to meet this goal, Utah must increase retention and completion rates in higher education for men and women alike.
More information about the Utah Women and Education Initiative can be found on their website at www.utahwomenandeducation.org, including research briefs, videos, podcasts, and resources for educators, families, and community organizations.