"Historically we've been a transfer institution," Holland said. Founded in 1941 as a vocational school to train World War II production workers, UVU was a community college until the 1990s and remains an open-enrollment institution.
"The biggest growth is not from new freshmen but rather from juniors and seniors," Holland said. "Now people are saying, 'We love the programs ... we want to stay.' "
The six-year graduation rate, though, was still about 24 percent in 2013, the most recent year for which numbers are available, and UVU's class of 2014 was still significantly smaller than the University of Utah's graduate count of nearly 8,000 students.
Enrollment at the school, which is located in a heavily Mormon area, took a fairly large hit when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lowered age requirements for its missionaries, but demographics point to a future boom: Utah County is home to some of the fastest-growing cities in the state, which itself has one of the most rapidly expanding populations in the country.
Maybe it's no surprise, then, that higher-education bosses expect UVU to grow faster than any other institution in the state in coming years.
"My sense is that we'll probably grow again next year," Holland said. "At some point, we'll probably run into that missionary dip, but I think the trend will be building for the next few years rather than going in the other direction. We're looking for that continued climb."