Since 1960, students studying to become educators at the University of Utah have been taking classes in Milton Bennion Hall, and many others have walked its halls as well. This winter, alumni, students, and faculty celebrated the legacy of Milton Bennion and bid a fond farewell to the building that helped shape the futures of thousands of general and special education teachers, counselors, administrators, and educational leaders. The building came down to make space for expansion of the David Eccles School of Business.
“What I experienced during my time in Milton Bennion Hall was a life changer; it enabled me to learn more, to appreciate who I am, what skills I have, what new skills I need to learn, and how I can contribute to education,” says Cecelia H. Foxley PhD’68, former Utah commissioner of higher education, who received her doctorate in educational psychology from the U. “It enabled me to have a whole new future.”
Milton Bennion, who served as dean of the School of Education for 28 years (1913-1941), was well known for his Socratic teaching style and his keen interest in personal and social ethics and character education. Bennion also served as vice president of the university from 1940-1941.
“A big part of Bennion’s legacy, which still continues today, was his focus on character education and the role of education, not only in academics, but also in preparing individuals to be good citizens,” says Michael Hardman BS’71 MEd’73 PhD’75, chief global offcer for the U and former dean of the college. “In my early years of being a professor, I read a lot about Milton Bennion, and it shaped a lot of my thinking.”
In 2013, the College of Education found a new home in the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts and Education Complex, but Milton Bennion Hall continued to be used for other classes, clinics, and office space for faculty.
“The building has been home for remarkable students, incredible research innovations, and distinguished faculty for over half a century,” says María E. Fránquiz, dean of the college.
The U is embarking on an initiative to become the nation’s leader in Pacific Islander studies. As part of the initiative, the university is hiring two new full-time faculty in Pacific Islander studies and recently created a new scholarship aimed at recruiting and retaining talented students of Pacific Island heritage.
Utah has one of the oldest and largest Pacific Islander communities in the country (with members from throughout Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia, from Hawaii to New Zealand). In fact, Utah has the largest population in the continental U.S. per capita, and U.S. Census figures show the numbers increased by more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2010. Pacific Islanders have lived continuously in Utah since 1870.
“Because of Utah’s long history with Pacific Islanders and the strong network of professionals, community groups, and associations within the Pacific Islander community, the U is well positioned to strengthen these partnerships and build the top program in the continental United States,” says Adrian Viliami Bell, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and co-director of the Pacific Islander Studies Initiative at the U.
The initiative will take a three-pronged approach: Collaborating with and serving the state’s Pacific Islander community, increasing the diversity of the university’s faculty by hiring scholars whose expertise lies in studying the area, and providing scholarships and mentorship opportunities to students of Pacific Island backgrounds.
To learn more about the initiative or to donate to the Pacific Islander scholarship, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anker BA’88 was featured in the 2015 Sundance film Meru, which chronicles his attempt to lead the first team to summit the notoriously difficult Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru in northern India. Anker was a founding member of The North Face Climbing Team and began his relationship with the outdoor company as a retail employee while he was a student at the U. He graduated with a degree in recreation and leisure.
“I want all of the graduates, regardless of how they choose to define success, to find greatness within themselves,” Anker says. “That’s why I’m thankful for the opportunity to come back to the University of Utah to deliver this message to the class of 2017.”
Anker began climbing at a young age and jokes that he chose to attend the U because the brochure showed mountains in the background. He worked for the school’s campus recreation program and enjoyed the U's close proximity to the outdoors while taking classes. He says he found his business courses to be especially useful, and even started a company while in school, KÜHL, that he eventually sold for $10,000—which he used to go climbing.
“I want graduates to live in the moment,” Anker says. “Utahns are known for their kindness and generosity. The goodness that comes from being part of the U community is something that will always be with you and that you can share around the world.”
Eliza McIntosh, a junior studying political science, wears the title of Ms. Wheelchair America 2017. She won with the platform: “Where there is a wheel, there is a way—identify your passion, invite people to join you, and ignite your community behind you.”
Over the next year, McIntosh will travel the country as a spokeswoman for the disability community, visit with advocacy groups, make public appearances, and participate in parades. McIntosh uses a wheelchair for mobility because she has spinal dysgenesis and is paralyzed from the waist down. An intern at the Disability Law Center in Salt Lake City, she enjoys politics, wheelchair basketball, and chess. “Being disabled is normally seen as a very negative thing. It sounds kind of funny, but I was basically born a celebrity,” she says. “Every time I come into a room, people notice. I can go for years without seeing somebody, and they’ll still remember me. That’s impact. That’s power. And so, I feel like you should use what you have available to your advantage.”
At the weeklong Ms. Wheelchair America competition last August, McIntosh competed against 25 other contestants from different states. Although the contestants are showcased in pageant format, physical beauty is not a consideration. McIntosh says of her new role, “I am excited and honored to be Ms. Wheelchair America 2017! I hope to use this opportunity to exhibit just how much you can do because of a wheelchair, not despite it.”
The University of Utah’s International Student and Scholar Services recently hosted 94 emerging youth leaders from Pakistan as part of that country's Global Undergraduate Exchange Program. Through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by IREX, an international nonprot organization based in Washington, D.C., the program brings undergraduate students from underserved populations in Pakistan to study in the U.S. to increase their academic knowledge, enhance their leadership capacity, and build new life skills.
Having spent the past semester at 42 different colleges and universities around the country, the students concluded their experience together at a re-entry workshop at the U, learning how to integrate their individual and shared experiences in the U.S. into a blueprint for becoming leaders in their communities. “The workshop was a great success,” says Chalimar Swain, director of International Student and Scholar Services. “Particularly in this time of divisive national politics, it was a healing, uplifting experience to see these future leaders engaging in lively discussions about diversity, inclusion, ethics, and leadership.”
Luther McDonald, a 28-year-old civil and environmental engineering assistant professor, as well as a faculty member in the U’s nuclear engineering program, was just named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in science. He joins academics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, and NASA’s Langley Research Center, among others, in being named one of this year’s outstanding young scientists and scientific entrepreneurs in fields from mathematics to neuroscience and genetics. McDonald was the only researcher from Utah named.
“It’s an honor,” he says about the announcement. “It’s also motivation to keep doing more—to get more research funding and get more students to the University of Utah and grow the research program.”
McDonald received his bachelor’s in chemistry at the University of West Florida and a doctorate in radiochemistry at Washington State University. “My favorite class in high school was chemistry, and for my first chemistry course in college I had one of the most phenomenal professors,” he says. “I thought, ‘If this is what chemistry is like, I want to do it.’ And I was hooked since then.”
From GOP infighting to the WikiLeaks email hacks and the rise of a surprisingly strong third-party presidential candidate in Utah, there has been no shortage of recent political surprises— providing perfect timing for the fall launch of The Hinckley Report. KUED—the public television station affiliated with the U—began airing the weekly half-hour public affairs series in partnership with the Hinckley Institute of Politics this past September. The Hinckley Report is modeled after Washington Week on PBS, which features a roundtable of journalists discussing the issues of the week. Its goal: elevate the dialogue surrounding pressing political issues and how they relate to Utah. The show airs on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on KUED Channel 7.
Past episodes and web extras are available at kued.org/hinckleyreport.
“Coffee” was the most tweeted food in the continental U.S. from mid-2014 to mid-2015, followed by “beer” then “pizza.” Besides hinting at which foods are popular, tweets may reveal something about our health. Communities that expressed positive sentiments about healthy foods were more likely to be healthier overall.
Scientists at the University of Utah surveyed nearly 80 million Twitter messages—a random sample of 1 percent of publicly available, geotagged tweets—over the course of one year. They then sorted through the 4 million tweets about food for ones that fell on opposite ends of the health spectrum: tweets mentioning fast food restaurants, or lean meats, fruits, veggies, or nuts.
The real insights came after cross-referencing the two types of food tweets with information about the neighborhoods they came from, including census data and health surveys. They found, for instance, that tweets from poor neighborhoods, and regions with large households, were less likely to mention healthy foods. People in areas dense with fast food restaurants also tweeted more often about fast food.
Twitter has previously been used to track health by gauging the prevalence of smoking and finding the source of its spread. Here, the comparisons could provide clues as to how our neighborhoods— the environments that we live, work, and play in—impact our health and well-being. “Our data could be telling us that certain neighborhoods have fewer resources to support healthy diets,” says Quynh Nguyen, an assistant professor at the U’s College of Health and lead author of the study, published in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance. She explains that perhaps neighborhoods laden with fast food restaurants could benefit from having more supermarkets or farm stands that sell fresh produce.
Nguyen and co-authors are working on future versions of the analytical programs to improve results and deepen the findings. “This is a promising new, cost-effective method for studying the social and environmental influences on health,” says senior author Ming Wen, professor of sociology at the U.
See the full paper here.
Today, there is only one class of antiviral medicines against herpesviruses— a family of viruses that cause mononucleosis, shingles, and meningitis, among other illnesses. And if viruses become resistant to these frontline treatments, a growing problem particularly in clinical settings, there are no alternative drugs to serve as backup.
Scientists at the U’s School of Medicine found that a medicine routinely used to treat heart failure, spironolactone, has an unexpected ability to block infection by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a herpesvirus that causes mono and is associated with several human cancers. Spironolactone’s target is distinct from that of existing drugs, revealing that it could be developed into a new class of anti-herpesvirus drug, providing another treatment option and helping overcome the problem of drug-resistant infections.
“It’s remarkable that a drug we have used safely in the clinic for over 50 years is also an effective EBV inhibitor,” says senior author Sankar Swaminathan, chief of infectious disease at U of U Health and professor of internal medicine. “It goes to show how basic research can reveal things we would never have found otherwise.” Conducted in collaboration with research assistant professor of internal medicine Dinesh Virma and lab specialist Jacob Thompson BS’11, the study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Breathing tubes are commonly used during surgery and other instances when someone isn’t able to breathe on their own. Each year, some 400,000 intubations require three or more attempts to get into the windpipe, and complication rates rise with each attempt.
So when U faculty member and anesthesiologist Sean Runnels had an idea for an upgrade to reduce injuries, deaths, and associated costs, he reached out to the U’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to find talented graduate students to help realize his vision. Together with MBA student Mackenzie Hales, bioengineering doctoral student Samer Merchant, and Benjamin Fogg, a medical and bioengineering student at the U, they created the award-winning Through the Cords, LLC.
Fogg explains how their products make it easier to intubate safely. “One main feature is our device’s ability to gauge depth,” he says. “If you insert the tube too deep, you risk puncturing a lung or only ventilating one lung. If it’s too shallow, the patient doesn’t get the oxygen they need.”
The unique designs include a steerable, flexible device that, when inserted, is easily monitored using a medical camera. Feedback has been positive from paramedics, anesthesiologists, and others, most of whom were surprised something like this didn’t already exist. To bring it to market, Runnels and the students have entered entrepreneur competitions and grant programs, winning more than $150,000 so far toward further development of their devices and FDA approval.
You can observe the Through the Cords intubation process here in this device demonstration.
According to the National Resources Defense Council, Americans waste up to $19 billion annually in electricity costs due to “vampire appliances,” always-on digital devices in the home that suck power even when they are turned off.
But U electrical and computer engineering professor Massood Tabib-Azar and a team of engineers have come up with a way to produce microscopic electronic switches for appliances and devices that can grow and dissolve wires inside the circuitry that instantly connect and disconnect electrical flow.
With this technology, consumer products such as smartphones and computer laptops could run at least twice as long on a single battery charge, and newer all-digital appliances such as televisions and video game consoles could be much more power efficient.
“Whenever they are off, they are not completely off, and whenever they are on, they may not be completely on,” says Tabib- Azar, who also is a professor with the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative. “That uses battery life. It heats up the device, and it’s not doing anything for you. It’s completely wasted power.”
The research, published in a paper in Solid State Electronics, was co-authored by Intel engineer Pradeep Pai PhD’15, Omnivision Technologies engineer Yuying Zhang PhD’15, and IM Flash engineer Nurunnahar Islam Mou MS’16.
On March 3, the University of Utah celebrated its 167th year since its founding in 1850 with a gala bestowing its Founders Day awards (among its highest honors, alongside honorary doctoral degrees), to four outstanding graduates and one honorary alumnus. The awardees were recognized for their exceptional professional achievements and/or public service, as well as for their support to the university.
Pamela Cipriano tribute video:
David Jorgensen tribute video:
Miriah Meyer tribute video:
Alan Sullivan tribute video:
Bruce Bastian (B.A. and M.A., Brigham Young University) co-founded WordPerfect, which revolutionized word processing and document-generating features that are still relied upon today. He used his success to found the B.W. Bastian Foundation, which focuses its gifts on LGBTQ equality and the arts in education. To the U alone he has given 55 Steinway pianos, a major contribution for renovations to Kingsbury Hall, annual support to the University’s LGBT Resource Center and U Pride, and thousands of dollars to various other areas across campus.
Bruce Bastian tribute video:
For Sydney Chan, our 2017 Founders Day Scholar, cultural identity has made her who she is—a successful second-year nursing student, an active volunteer with several groups supporting the underrepresented, and an outstanding service leader with the U’s Bennion Center.
Sydney’s parents are African American and Chinese, so she was raised in both cultures and traditions. “My beliefs have saved me many times, and the traditions sustained by my family have had an enormous impact on me,” she says. “I am very proud of my heritage and hope to build confidence, courage, and character in those I help.”
But Sydney’s life wasn’t always so bright. For many years, comments about her mixed heritage affected her confidence and made her question who she is. At one point, she felt painfully misjudged based on racist stereotypes. “I was hurt and frustrated that because of my skin color, people assumed I was scary, bad, a lowlife,” she recalls. “But I quickly snapped out of it when I remembered all the beautiful teachings my cultural background has given me.” Sydney uses these experiences as motivators to make a difference and help others who might have experienced similar hardships.
Sydney gained leadership experience working with girls from refugee, homeless, and domestic abuse shelters, and became involved with diversity committees and underrepresented student groups at the U. “Through my involvement on campus, I’ve been able to understand how my culture and beliefs have shaped me,” she says. “As I further my nursing career, I’m determined to take my experiences and use them to advocate for my patients and their beliefs.”
The Alumni Association awards its annual $8,000 Founders Day Scholarship (its largest single award) to a student who has overcome difficult life circumstances or challenges and who has given service to the university and the community.
The Alumni Association welcomes a new director of marketing, Andy Cier, an award-winning marketing and communications executive with extensive strategic marketing experience in education, tourism, health care, and government. The University of Utah is lucky to have his expertise.
Cier attended K-12 in Salt Lake City (and went to the U for a brief time) before graduating from the University of Notre Dame in communications and film production. Since then, he has worked for companies such as Helix Education (previously Datamark) and Riester to ensure their clients’ marketing strategies were the best they could be.
Personable and interested in telling relatable stories, his approach to marketing takes on a more human quality than a stiff, corporate one. He enjoys working with a team, encouraging them to align their personal goals with the success of the company, and considers himself a people person.
Cier also runs an independent consulting firm that offers marketing advice and coaching. He is an avid film lover and a member of the Utah Advisory Board for the Sundance Institute. Always involved in local events, he looks forward to applying his community spirit to the U.
The new Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House construction is well under way but could still use your support. While many of the rooms and areas have been named for our generous donors, plenty of naming opportunities remain to leave your legacy in the new house. And if you’ve already donated, consider hosting your events starting in the fall of 2017 at the newly updated Alumni House to enjoy and help support the beautiful new facility.
Call 801-581-6995 to make reservations.
Julie Smart BA’68 MA’70 has received the Distinguished Career in Rehabilitation Education Award from the National Council on Rehabilitation Education, a professional organization of educators dedicated to quality services for persons with disabilities. In 2001, she was awarded the council’s Outstanding Researcher/ Educator Award. Now retired, Smart was a faculty member for 24 years at Utah State University’s graduate program in rehabilitation counseling, and served as program director for 10 years. Smart has translated into Spanish two testing instruments used in rehabilitation and disability practice and has published widely in the rehabilitation/ disability literature. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in educational psychology from the U, Smart received a doctorate in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Northern Colorado.
Mary Hyacinth-Houser MS’76 was inducted into Voorhees College’s 2016 Homecoming Hall of Fame. Hyacinth- Houser graduated from Voorhees in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in history. She received a master’s degree in human resource management from the U and furthered her studies at Long Island University in guidance counseling. After spending her professional career with the New York State Department of Labor and the New York City Board of Education, she retired after 36 years in supervision and counseling. Hyacinth-Houser, an ordained minister, also founded and remains active with a Helping Hand Ministry to assist the needy, currently in Georgia and South Carolina. “A desire to help and empower others has always been my life’s focus,” she notes.
Martha Raddatz ex’75, chief global affairs correspondent for ABC News, was selected as one of two moderators of the second 2016 U.S. Presidential Debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, in October, alongside Anderson Cooper of CNN. The New York Times said the two journalists “steered debate with sharp question.” The Columbia Journalism Review noted, “Audiences for debates tower over those of all other political coverage… upping both the potential and risk of more assertive moderating. But Raddatz… proved that such hands-on direction can ultimately lead to a more revealing look at the candidates than the public would otherwise get.” Raddatz has written for The New Republic and is a frequent guest on PBS’s Washington Week. At the U, she studied speech and hearing science.
Genevieve Atwood MPA’91 PhD’06 received the 2016 Lehi Hintze Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Geology of Utah from the Utah Geological Association and the Utah Geological Survey. Atwood, who is chief education officer of Earth Science Education and former adjunct associate professor of geography at the U, has spent her career on the interface of Earth science and public policy. As a representative in the Utah Legislature, she was instrumental in establishing Utah’s mined land reclamation program, Seismic Safety Advisory Council, and dam safety program, and the state’s acquisition of Antelope Island. She also served as State Geologist. Atwood received a master’s degree from the U in public administration and a doctorate in geography.
Viet Le BS’01 MPS’04 was honored with one of Utah Business magazine’s 2016 Healthcare Heroes awards. Since 2012, Le has been employed as a cardiology research physician assistant, working with the director and co-director of cardiovascular research at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and at the University of Utah Hospital. He devotes a portion of his time to seeing patients in clinic and the rest of his time to research projects. Le’s research interests are wide and varied. He particularly enjoys the study of mobile health technologies and interventions. He is a member of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, and was named Physician Assistant of the Year in 2014 by Intermountain Healthcare, Urban Central Region.
Vicki Fish MBA’08, vice president of dermatology at Myriad Genetic Laboratories, in Salt Lake City, has received a Women Tech Award for leadership excellence. Fish is one of six women recognized in late 2016 by the Women Tech Council, Utah’s most visible trade organization focused on the economic impact of women in driving high growth for Utah’s technology sector. Fish has spent 18 years at Myriad focused on patient care in the field of personalized medicine and molecular diagnostics. She is responsible for launching a gene expression assay aiding in the diagnosis of melanoma, and founded Myriad’s Women’s Leadership Forum. In addition to her degree from the U, she has a master’s degree in genetics from the University of North Texas.
To submit alumni news for consideration, email email@example.com.
After much anticipation and excitement, the new Lassonde Studios opened in August to welcome its first cohort of 400 student residents. The $45 million facility is a place where students from any major or background can live, create new products, and launch companies.
A nationally ranked division of the David Eccles School of Business, the Lassonde Institute announced the building project in April 2014 and broke ground in October of the same year. During construction, Lassonde Studios received worldwide attention, with features in publications such as the New York Times, Fast Company, and Bloomberg.
Lassonde Studios is about 160,000 square feet on five floors. The first floor is a 20,000-square-foot innovation space, workshop, and cafe open to all students on campus. That floor has many spaces and tools, including workbenches, group work areas, 3-D printers, a laser cutter, power tools, and more. The first floor is similar to a student union for those interested in entrepreneurship and innovation. Above are four floors of student housing.
More than 1,300 students applied to live at Lassonde Studios this year. Those selected are often referred to as the “Lassonde 400.” This year’s residents have a variety of academic interests—the most popular include business, engineering, computer science, video games, and film—and they are 37 percent female, 63 percent male. Half are freshmen, and the rest span across every class, including graduate students. “We think we have assembled one of the best groups of entrepreneurs anywhere,” says Troy D’Ambrosio BA’82, executive director of the Lassonde Institute. “We can’t wait to see what the Lassonde 400 accomplishes this year and in the future.”
Lassonde Studios is made possible through the vision and generosity of Pierre Lassonde MBA’73, a world-renowned gold investor, founder of the Franco-Nevada Corporation, and U alumnus who has donated $25 million to support the Lassonde Studios and related programs “We wanted to create a community of entrepreneurs unlike anything anywhere else,” says Lassonde. “The Lassonde Studios will help make this possible by providing all the space and tools students need to do amazing things. The University of Utah is now the place to be for young entrepreneurs.”
Learn more about the Lassonde Studios at lassonde.utah.edu/studios.
Learn more about the Lassonde Institute at lassonde.utah.edu.
The U invites its loyal sports supporters far and wide to “FanUp” and stake our claim as one of the best fan bases in the nation. Last spring, President David Pershing formed a committee of students, trustees, athletes, fans, alums, and university employees to create a campaign to promote the kind of sportsmanship that reflects the values of the University of Utah. As a result, the university launched the FanUp campaign asking fans everywhere to take the following pledge.
1. Love our Utes and welcome visiting teams and their fans
2. Promote a family-friendly experience
3. Enjoy the game responsibly
4. Cheer loud and be Ute Proud!
The campaign also has designated a text number to report poor fan behavior during a sporting event. Text “FANUP <issue and location>” to 69050.
Good news for those who are tired of using the high-five emoji as a substitute for Flash-the-U. The U has released an official emoji keyboard called UMOJI —with a “Lite” version for free and a paid version with more choices for $1.99. The icons are available in the App Store and Google Play Store, and can be found by searching “Utah Umoji.”
Click here for the UMOJIS page.
One of the hot-button issues these days is outsourcing overseas. The big question is how to keep jobs in America. To help convince businesses they can perform better in their own backyard, two U mechanical engineering professors, Bruce Gale PhD’00, and Bart Raeymaekers (pictured L to R), established a center to show local manufacturing companies how they can spur innovation and utilize the latest technology.
The new Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center will deliver services for small and medium-sized manufacturing companies by providing expertise in advanced technology, innovation, worker education, operational excellence, and investment strategies. “The goal of the program is to provide these services so businesses can remain competitive against cheap overseas labor and to keep those manufacturing jobs here,” explains Raeymaekers.
In partnership with other entities and organizations throughout the state, the center will help local businesses use data to identify products and growing markets and provide prototyping resources. The MEP Center receives funding from the U.S. commerce department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. All told, the center will receive $16 million in funding over the next five years.
The center is under the U’s College of Engineering and engages more than a dozen permanent employees, consultants, and industry professionals. Headquartered on campus, it will also have satellite offices in Cache and Utah counties as well as consultants in eastern Utah and Cedar City.
The U has had a few extra coaches hanging around campus this fall—89, to be exact, and all from China. The high school coaches are here as part of the first-ever China coaches training program. For three months, they are training with U Athletics staff to learn coaching techniques for sports including men and women’s basketball, track and field, swimming, and cheerleading.
Part of the Pac-12 Globalization Initiative and funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council, the program specifically focuses on coaching strategy, game preparation, film review, assistant coach development, and practice structure. In addition, the curriculum includes off-the-field items such as sports psychology, strength training, nutrition, public relations, and marketing.
The program is coordinated through the U’s Office for Global Engagement. “A critical part of the U’s mission is to explore and better understand the interconnectivity between people and places around the world, and then apply that learning here at home,” says Michael Hardman BS’71 MEd’73 PhD’75, chief global officer for the U. “This very unique program brings some of China’s best high school coaches to our campus, providing us the opportunity to share our expertise as well as learn from and about Chinese culture.”
Utah children and teens in crisis have a new way to reach out for help. An app developed by the U’s Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) aims to reduce the suicide rate among young people in Utah. The SafeUT app is a statewide service funded by the Utah Legislature that provides real-time crisis intervention to youth through texting and a tip program.
Students can use their smartphones to connect directly via chat, text, or a call to licensed clinicians trained in mental health crisis management and suicide prevention. Clinicians are available 24/7 to assist with a wide variety of problems, including emotional crisis, grief, bullying, addiction, abuse, mental health issues, and suicidal behavior.
The SafeUT app is free, anonymous, and confidential. The program has rolled out to more than 160 schools so far and plans to enroll all Utah schools in the program by next summer.
In 2014, the University of Utah Asia Campus (UAC) opened its doors in Incheon, South Korea, to students looking for a global and culturally diverse education. This fall, the U welcomed the first group of students from the campus to Salt Lake City to complete their degrees.
Although most undergraduate students will spend three years at the Asia campus before finishing their degrees in Utah, several of these students are on an accelerated path and have already accrued enough credits to enter the U’s main campus as college seniors. The group also includes graduate students in the master of public health program, who are coming to complete the second year of the two-year program.
Fall 2016 enrollment at the UAC has increased to 225 students, and next year, a larger cohort of about 60-70 undergraduate and graduate students are expected to arrive in Salt Lake City. As the UAC increases its degree offerings in the years to come, more than 300 students are anticipated to arrive each year to complete their U degrees.
As one of the founding institutions of Incheon Global Campus, the U currently offers undergraduate degrees in communication, psychology, and social work, and the master of public health. Planning is under way for four new degrees to be offered beginning in spring 2017. Students will soon be able to get an undergraduate degree in film and media arts or urban ecology, a master’s degree in biomedical informatics, or a Global Juris Doctorate.
The global campus also includes Belgium’s Ghent University, George Mason University, and the State University of New York, Stony Brook. All students attending the UAC meet the same admissions and program degree requirements as main campus students, are taught and mentored by qualified U faculty, and receive a University of Utah degree.
The U will accept student applications for the spring semester until Jan. 15, 2017, and admission will be granted on a rolling basis. Main campus students are encouraged to take advantage of a global learning abroad experience at the UAC.
The Asia campus also celebrated the opening of its new building in September. The nine-story, 170,000-square-foot facility is modeled after the iconic J. Willard Marriott Library. The LEED-certified building includes a welcome center, student lounge, 26 lecture halls and classrooms, counseling center, and more than 100 faculty and student support offices.
James Lee Sorenson BS’75 has been named a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. A globally prominent entrepreneur, Sorenson has built highly successful enterprises in fields ranging from technology and life sciences to real estate and private equity investment, all of which have added thousands of jobs to Utah’s economy.
After launching several successful business ventures while still a U student, Sorenson became a leader in the field of digital video compression and later co-founded Sorenson Capital. In 2013, he provided the U with a $13 million gift to create the James Lee Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center.
“As Utah’s flagship institution of higher learning, this great university has a major impact not only on the city and state I choose to call home, but in the nation and the world,” says Sorenson. “I’m honored to serve on the Board of Trustees for my alma mater.”
Randall Peterson, a prominent Harvard chemical biologist who pioneered the use of zebrafish to discover new precision drug therapies for cardiovascular and nervous system disorders, has been tapped to serve as dean of the College of Pharmacy. He assumes his role as dean and L.S. Skaggs Presidential Endowed Chair for Pharmacy effective Jan. 1, 2017.
A Salt Lake City native, Peterson holds an undergraduate degree in molecular biology from Brigham Young University and a doctorate in biochemistry from Harvard University. Until Jan. 1, he is associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Charles and Ann Sanders Research Scholar at Massachusetts General Hospital, and senior associate member of the Broad Institute.
Utah has a population of around 65,000 refugees, according to Department of Workforce Services data, and that number grows by nearly 1,000 each year without accounting for other immigrants. Recognizing the challenges these new Americans face assimilating to their new environment, the U’s College of Social Work recently launched the Center for Research on Migration & Refugee Integration.
The center focuses on welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into mainstream communities and also serves as a hub for research. It is the first academic center of its kind west of the Mississippi River and is the result of a year-long discussion between the college, university faculty, and community partners including the Office of Refugee Services, International Rescue Committee, and Utah Department of Workforce Services.
Both university and community researchers will network through the center to explore issues related to immigration and refugee integration. Areas of immediate research focus include youth and parenting challenges; development of a certification process for accepting academic and professional degrees granted in other countries; and an assessment of currently available services and research on refugee and immigrant issues.
The historic Wall Mansion in the heart of Salt Lake City has a new name and purpose. The recently refurbished building opened in August and has been renamed the Thomas S. Monson Center after the current president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Monson BS’48 is a distinguished alumnus of the U’s David Eccles School of Business, a past faculty member, and an honorary doctorate recipient.
The mansion is now home to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, which develops and shares economic, demographic, and public policy data to help business and community leaders make more informed decisions. The new center will play a pivotal role in bringing economists, business leaders, and civic authorities together to examine issues pertinent to the state of Utah, and advance policies that will stimulate its growth and development. The mansion also provides a space for community gatherings and private events, encouraging further interaction between the U and the community it serves.
The historic 50,000-square-foot mansion has been restored to its original elegance and function, including restoring the original east entrance to its former state. The mansion was designed by renowned architect Richard K. A. Kletting, who also designed the Utah State Capitol. Enos A. Wall, who remodeled and enlarged the home into a Renaissance villa, purchased the property in 1904 and lived in it until 1920. After serving as the Jewish Community Center and then LDS Business College, the mansion was donated to the U by the LDS church in 2014.
Learn more about Kem Gardner here.
The U’s beloved mascot, a red-tailed hawk named Swoop, turned 20 in 2016. Festivities ensued, including a party at the Campus Store and a halftime celebration during the first home football game. Instead of gifts, Swoop requested donations of school supplies for local children. Lowell Bennion Community Service volunteers responded by helping stuff 400 bags with school necessities that Swoop helped distribute to Lincoln Elementary School students in Salt Lake City.
After having gone many years without an official mascot, the U introduced the indigenous bird as the new symbol of school spirit in 1996. Since then Swoop has been busy bolstering Ute pride, whether he’s energizing crowds, high-fiving kids, or helping at charity events. Cheers to you, Swoop!
Find out more about the student who named Swoop 20 years ago here.
Check out a video tribute to Swoop made by U student filmmakers:
Orson Spencer Hall, affectionately known by nearly everyone throughout its 60-plus years on campus as “OSH,” is no more. The two-story, mid-century modern building was razed in late October. Named for the first chancellor of the university, OSH was one of the first post-WWII structures on campus designed exclusively for classrooms. Nearly every U student since then has had a class in OSH and can probably still remember the sound of the bell signaling five-minute class breaks and the ensuing swarms of students navigating the crowded halls. Those times will be missed. OSH will be replaced by the new Carolyn and Kem Gardner Building.
Most people could benefit from a few extra hours of sleep every night. But some people habitually sleep much less than the recommended amount, yet report feeling no ill effects. A new University of Utah study finds that patterns of neural connections in the brains of so-called “habitual short sleepers” suggest that some of these people may indeed be efficient sleepers, but they may also be more tired than they realize, leading to potential safety issues, such as during routine night driving.
“Most people feel terrible when they get less than six hours of sleep,” says psychology associate professor Paula Williams. “What’s different about these short sleepers who feel fine? Is there something different going on in terms of brain function? Although they report no daytime dysfunction from short sleep, what if their perceptions are inaccurate?”
To begin answering those questions, study co-authors Williams, neurologist Christopher Jones, associate professor and radiologist Jeff Anderson, and psychology graduate student Brian Curtis BS’08 MS’15 (first author on the new study, published in Brain and Behavior) looked into how people’s brains are wired. The team compared data from people who reported a normal amount of sleep in the past month with those who reported sleeping six hours or less a night. They further divided the short sleepers into two groups: Those who reported daytime dysfunction, such as feeling too drowsy to perform common tasks or keep up enthusiasm, and those who reported feeling fine.
Both groups of short sleepers exhibited connectivity patterns more typical of sleep than wakefulness while in an MRI scanner. Anderson says that although people are instructed to stay awake while in the scanner, some short sleepers may have briefly drifted off, even those who denied dysfunction. “People are notoriously poor at knowing whether they’ve fallen asleep for a minute or two,” he says. For the short sleepers who deny dysfunction, one hypothesis is that their wake-up brain systems are typically in overdrive. “This leaves open the possibility that in a boring MRI scanner they have nothing to do to keep them awake and thus fall asleep,” says Jones.
This hypothesis has public safety implications, according to Curtis. “Other boring situations, like driving an automobile at night without adequate visual or auditory stimulation, may also put short sleepers at risk of drowsiness or even falling asleep behind the wheel,” he says. The next phase of the team’s research will directly test whether short sleepers who deny dysfunction are actually doing fine. In addition to brain imaging, researchers will examine cognitive performance, including during driving simulator testing.
The full study can be found here.
Grasslands are an important ecosystem in Africa, hosting many animals and serving as corridors for wildlife movement. A new U study published in Scientific Reports finds that loss of megaherbivores such as elephants and hippos can lead to rapid environmental and ecological change in grasslands, endangering the overall ecosystem.
Trees and non-grassy plants compete with grasses, but grazing by the large herbivores keeps the woody plants in check. Study first author and U postdoctoral scholar Kendra Chritz studied hippopotamus teeth to find a shift in the diet of hippos over the course of a decade in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park following widespread elephant poaching in the 1970s. “Within 10 years, we see a big change in what’s happening in this once diverse grassy area of the park,” says Chritz. “This is a window into the future of what could happen in East African savannas as elephants continue to be poached at the currently unprecedented rate.”
People can combat poaching by reducing the demand and financial incentive for harvesting the elephants’ tusks, Chritz says. “Not purchasing ivory and knowing which products you might use that are made from ivory is the best thing you can do to protect elephants.”
The full study can be found here.
Related update: A U study published in November 2016 found that more than 90 percent of ivory in large seized shipments came from elephants that died less than three years prior. Read the news release here.
A factor found in umbilical cord blood could become the basis for developing a new therapy to fight harmful inflammation, U School of Medicine researchers report. When given to mice, the newly discovered factor countered signs of inflammation and sepsis, such as fever, fluctuations in respiratory rate, and even death. The factor circulates in the blood of newborns for about two weeks after birth and is not found in older babies or adults, according to the study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
“We found something we weren’t expecting, and it has taken us to new strategies for therapy that didn’t exist before,” says Guy Zimmerman, professor of internal medicine and senior author who carried out the investigation in collaboration with lead author and associate professor of pediatrics Christian Con Yost BS’93 MD’97, along with colleagues at the U School of Medicine.
Anyone who has twisted an ankle or been stung by a bee is familiar with inflammation and its telltale redness, pain, and swelling, all positive signs that the body is mounting defenses against the insult. But under certain circumstances, inflammation can turn against us, causing damage to healthy tissue. An out-of-control inflammatory response is thought to be behind a diverse spectrum of conditions from rheumatoid arthritis to sepsis, an overreaction to infection and common cause of in-hospital deaths.
In the scientists’ blood factor study, only 20 percent of mice with sepsis survived longer than two to four days without treatment. Mice treated with the cord blood factor had triple the chance for survival, with 60 percent remaining after the same amount of time. The researchers will carry out additional studies to test the therapeutic properties of the blood factor.
The full study can be found here.
Researchers at the U have found that the structure of an insulin molecule produced by predatory cone snails may be an improvement over the fast-acting therapeutic insulin currently used for diabetes. The finding suggests that the insulin produced by cone snails to stun their prey could begin working in as few as five minutes, compared with 15 minutes for the fastest-acting insulin currently available for human use.
The Conus geographus predatory cone snail and its relatives have developed complex brews of venoms to rapidly paralyze prey fish before they can swim away. The snails secrete insulin and other compounds into water near fish, causing their blood sugar to plummet, which sedates them for the snails to then easily consume.
Studying the structure of the cone snail insulin could help researchers modify human insulin to lose an inhibiting action called self-aggregation (sticking together and slowing down action), says biologist Helena Safavi, co-author on a paper describing the cone snail insulin published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. Safavi says that studying complex venom cocktails can open doors to new drug discoveries. “You can get new ideas from venoms. To have something that has already been evolved—that’s a huge advantage.”
Along with colleagues from Australia, U biochemists Danny Chou and Maria Disotuar as well as biologists Joanna Gajewiak and Baldomero Olivera contributed to the study. A Distinguished Professor, Olivera has long been a leader in researching cone snail toxins for neuroscience.
The full study can be found here.
The Emeritus Alumni Board selected five outstanding alumni to receive 2016 Merit of Honor Awards. The annual awards recognize university of Utah alumni who graduated 40 or more years ago (or who have reached age 65 or better) whose careers have been marked by outstanding service to the university, their professions, and their communities. This year’s recipients are highlighted below.
To recognize them, the Emeritus Alumni Board hosted a banquet in their honor in November. Martha Bradley BFA’74 PhD’87, associate vice president for academic affairs at the U, served as the featured speaker, while Rex Thornton BS’72, a past president of the U Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, was the evening’s master of ceremonies.
Jack Ashton BA’65 played the violin with the Utah Symphony for 48 years, 25 of those as the assistant principal chair. He has also instructed up to 40 private students at any time and taught public school for nearly four decades. Now retired, he still has 30 private students and teaches weekly at Snow College. Widely loved, he has been a great influence on thousands of students. He and his wife, Marie, are the parents of eight children.
Karen Crompton BS’71 is director of the Salt Lake County Department of Human Services. Before that, she served 13 years as president of Voices for Utah Children. She is deeply committed to child welfare, a champion for women in the workplace, and actively involved in her community. Her prior recognition includes being named Utah’s 2014 Golden Spike Community Activist of the Year. She and her husband, David, have two sons.
James R. Holbrook JD’74, a clinical professor of law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, teaches negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. A recipient of many awards and author of numerous ADR publications, he served as the principal investigator on the law school’s $10 million U.S. State Department-funded project in Baghdad, which provided legal assistance to the government and judiciary of Iraq. He is married to Meghan Zanolli Holbrook.
Stanley B. Parrish ex’61 is president and CEO of the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce. He served as chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as associate deputy administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration, served in Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter’s cabinet as an executive director, and was president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. He and his wife, Joyce, are the parents of six children.
Judi Short MPA’92 was employed at the U for 38 years, working mostly in the Office of Graduate Medical Education, including as director. A recipient of many community awards, she chairs the Sugar House Community Council’s Land Use Committee, is a member of the League of Women Voters, and leads a team of Master Gardeners who maintain Gilgal Sculpture Garden. She and her husband, Wade C. Jones, have five children.
The Alumni Association welcomes a new Alumni Career Services program manager and career coach, Amy Gleason. In what she calls the “wandering map” of her career, Gleason got her start working as a child protection caseworker in California and Colorado, where she spent more than a decade teaching independent living skills to foster care teens, homeless youth, and teen parents. She eventually transitioned into a case management supervisory role with a large hospital system. After 11 years, the hospital faced budget cuts and Amy was laid off, “smack dab in mid-career, on top of my game” she says.
What followed was an unexpected but welcome career transition that would eventually lead her to higher-ed career coaching. After her layoff, she experienced firsthand the value of career coaching and learning new skills, which motivated her to start her own business. Gleason discovered a passion for teaching career prep and English language skills to professionals from all over the world, coaching them for interviews, presentations, and business communication.
Now, she is bringing her career training expertise to the U to help alumni gain the skills and confidence needed to explore new career options, transition jobs, or find a dream job. She says, “It’s never too late to find the job that is your match, regardless of your age or experience.” Gleason offers one-on-one coaching to all U alumni—in Utah, nationally, and even internationally. She invites all interested alumni to visit the university’s alumni career fairs, networking events, and workshops to assist in growing their skill set and career enthusiasm. For more information, visit alumni.utah.edu/career.
We danced. We golfed. We decorated. We raced. We tailgated. We cheered. We won.
Alumni and friends celebrated Homecoming 2016 with all the longstanding University of Utah traditions. Highlights this year included the return of the Homecoming Golf Tournament, a new route for the scholarship 5K race (moved during the Alumni House remodel), and the second-half comeback of the football team for the win against Arizona 36–23.
Check out some of our favorite snapshots below to relive the Homecoming 2016 festivities.
Each spring, the University of Utah Alumni Association is honored to award more than half a million dollars of scholarship money to students, ranging from incoming freshmen to graduate students. That amount usually surprises people, and we are often asked where the money comes from. The simple response is: From you, our alumni and friends.
Whether you’re driving with a U license plate or running in our annual Homecoming 5K race, you’re a contributor. Here, we break down the numbers, including the source of funds as well as scholarship recipient and eligibility information.
Who wants to travel with complete strangers when you can hang out with fellow University of Utah alums? The Alumni Association is now booking travel for 2017, and you’ll not only get to enjoy some very attractive destinations but get to do so in the company of people you have something in common with. Below is a sampling of some of our spring and summer trips.
May 17-25: Springtime in Provence and Burgundy
May 23-June 1: Vineyards & Vignettes from Lisbon to London
May 27-June 4: Peru Escapade to the Andes
July 26-Aug. 7: Italy’s National Parks and Grottoes
July 28-Aug. 7: Glacial Adventures of Alaska
For more details, destinations, or to sign up for any of our trips, visit alumni.utah. edu/travel or call Nanette Richard at 801-581-3708.
Each spring, the University of Utah Alumni Association is honored to award more than half a million dollars of scholarship money to students, ranging from incoming freshmen to graduate students. That amount usually surprises people, and we are often asked where the money comes from. The simple response is: From you, our alumni and friends.
Whether you’re driving with a U license plate or running in our annual Homecoming 5K race, you’re a contributor. Above, we break down the numbers, including the source of funds as well as scholarship recipient and eligibility information.
Randy Dryer BS’73 JD’76 (L) and Kimball Parker BA’09 (R) have each been recognized with a Fastcase 50 Award, which honors those who have charted a new course for the delivery of legal services. Dryer is a Presidential Honors Professor at the U and a professor in the U’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. Parker is a former lawyer with Quinn Emanuel, one of the country’s top law firms. Dryer and Parker were honored for the work they did in creating a project where students “mapped” the law on a website created by Parker called CO/COUNSEL. Parker’s crowdsourcing platform utilizes topic maps (diagrammed by law students) that are then made public and are open to community editing. The combination of the wisdom of experts and the wisdom of crowds creates new avenues for exploring and understanding the law.
D. Michael Quinn MA’73 won the 2016 Leonard J. Arrington Award, presented annually by the Mormon History Association to a scholar for distinguished and outstanding service to Mormon history. Quinn’s 1987 book Early Mormonism and the Magic World View was described by the selection committee chair as “a prize-winning, imaginative, and pathbreaking study of the relationship between traditional folk magic and early Mormonism.” Quinn’s two biographies of LDS Church President J. Reuben Clark were also praised, and three of his books on the Mormon hierarchy were noted. And although a controversy surrounded his Same Sex Dynamics among 19th Century Americans: A Mormon Example, the book was cited for breaking new ground in Mormon studies.
Akhlesh Lakhtakia MS’81 PhD’83, Charles Godfrey Binder Professor in Engineering Science and Mechanics at the Pennsylvania State University, has been admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a professional society based in the United Kingdom with more than 50,000 members worldwide. Lakhtakia’s admittance was based on his extensive and fundamental contributions to the optical response characteristics of isotropic chiral materials and to homogenization formalisms for composite materials and metamaterials. His research focuses on electromagnetic fields in complex materials, such as sculptured thin films, chiral materials, and bianisotropy. Since joining Penn State in 1983, Lakhtakia has been honored with numerous awards for his teaching and research.
C. Dane Nolan JD’86 was named 2016 Judge of the Year by the Utah State Bar. Appointed to the Third District Juvenile Court in May 2003 by Gov. Michael O. Leavitt, Nolan serves in Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties. Before his appointment, he spent 12 years with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, where he handled child sexual and physical abuse cases and adult sexual assault prosecutions. He was a founding member of the Utah Minority Bar Association and served as chair of the Judicial Conduct Commission. His service has also included five years with the Juvenile Court Board of Judges, with one term as chair. In 2015, he was recognized as the Utah Board of Juvenile Justice Youth Advocate of the Year. Nolan has presided over Utah’s first Juvenile Mental Health Court since 2006.
Jill M. Pohlman BS’93 JD’96 was appointed to the Utah Court of Appeals by Gov. Gary Herbert, and her appointment was confirmed by the Utah State Senate. While attending law school at the U, Pohlman served on the Utah Law Review before graduating Order of the Coif. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable David K. Winder of the United States District Court for the District of Utah. Prior to her current appointment, Pohlman was a partner at the law firm of Stoel Rives LLP in Salt Lake City. She practiced there for 19 years, during which time she maintained a complex civil litigation practice. She was a member of the Utah Supreme Court’s Ethics and Discipline Committee, including serving as panel chair. She also served on the Utah Supreme Court’s Diversion Committee. She currently sits on the Utah Courts Committee on Judicial Outreach.
Kate Conyers BA’03 JD’08 MPA’08 has received the distinguished American Inns of Court Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service. The award recognizes excellence in public interest or pro bono activities. Conyers is a felony attorney with the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association, where she has represented hundreds of indigent defendants in all aspects of their criminal cases. She also worked there as a clerk before two stints in private practice, at Snell & Wilmer, LLP, and Lokken and Associates. She has served on the executive committee of Emerging Legal Leaders for the “And Justice for All” program, providing resources to Utah’s nonprofit civil legal aid agencies. She has also volunteered in bar-related programs including Wills for Heroes and Serving Our Seniors.
To submit alumni news for consideration, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DOWNWINDERS OF UTAH
The 1950s marked the beginning of the U. S. government’s nuclear weapons testing in a remote desert area known as the Nevada Test Site. The explosions created mushroom clouds that could be seen for almost 100 miles. The fallout and radiation traveled far beyond that, with devastating effects to those living downwind. Now, a new Downwinders of Utah Archive, housed at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library, depicts the stories of Utah communities adversely affected by the nuclear tests. The interactive collection—which includes audio and video recordings, oral history interviews, maps, and other documents—is available at downwindersofutah.org.