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News of the University

Hitting the Digital Airwaves

by Randy Harward

John Greene, general manager of KUER.

For nearly a half-century, KUER FM90 has been a hub for news, information, and entertainment. The station has been continually evolving, from serving as a kind of extension of the classroom, offering French lessons on-air, to taking advantage of FM technology in the early 1960s and carrying National Public Radio programs beginning in the 1970s. Now KUER is poised for another dramatic leap forward in both technology and programming with the introduction of HD Radio, named for its rich “hybrid digital” capabilities but sometimes nicknamed “high-definition radio” after the digital TV technology that preceded it.

“We’ve been waiting for this technology for almost a decade,” says KUER General Manager John Greene MSW’79. In 2008, KUER will expand to three channels of programming on the HD dial. The station’s main offerings (NPR programs such as This American Life, local news, JazzWorks) are already available on HD, but next year KUER will have one new channel dedicated to classical music and one featuring Triple-A music (“adult album alternative”), a rock format that Greene believes will appeal to University students.

KUER will acquire its classical programs from the Classical Public Radio Network, a collaboration between Colorado Public Radio and public station KUSC in Los Angeles. The Triple-A channel will come from the University of Pennsylvania’s WXPN, a leading provider of adult alternative programming. “We will be acquiring that [content] via satellite,” Greene says, “and inserting as much local information and programming as we want or are able to do.”

KUER has been working toward this end since 1995, when the digital technology was available but not yet approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It took a decade for the FCC to establish HD radio standards and now, finally, KUER is ready to take full advantage of this technology. Says Greene, “We’ve been investing in [HD radio] for the past several years to get ourselves to this point, where we’re ready and able to do it.”

by Randy Harward

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Biochemist Wesley I. Sundquist has been awarded a five-year, $19.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to establish an HIV research center to study the structural biology of the AIDS-causing virus. The U of U center, one of three funded nationwide, will study the molecular structure of HIV to better understand how the virus takes control of the body’s own cellular machinery to travel within a “host” cell, form new virus particles, and then spread to other cells. Unraveling the molecular structure of HIV may open the way to developing new types of drugs to treat the infection, and also serve as a model system for studying how other human viruses interact with host cells.

Congratulations to the Bennion Community Service Center, celebrating 20 years of providing opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to lend a hand in community service projects. Since being established by Lowell Bennion in 1987, the center has connected nearly 7,000 volunteers with programs and projects to serve the youth, elderly, and underprivileged of Utah. Thanks in part to the Bennion Center, the University of Utah consistently ranks tops in the nation for providing students with service-learning opportunities.

Jody Rosenblatt, an assistant professor of oncological sciences, was one of only 29 researchers nationwide to receive a New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2007. Rosenblatt will receive $1.5 million over five years to further her research. Her project seeks to identify signals governing how dying cells are squeezed out of tissues by surrounding cells, and study the role of this process in normal cellular function and in tumor formation and spread.

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Campus Notebook

Research Money Hits New Record

Research Money Hits New Record The University of Utah collected $322.6 million in research funds, fellowships, and financial aid during the 2007 fiscal year—a new record that follows a one-year decline in the University’s economy-boosting science funding. That 2007-08 total includes $228,822,277 in research grants, $41,753,556 in contract research and services, $22,142,362 in training grants that support graduate and postdoctoral students doing research, $13,815,159 in clinical research, and $16,044,458 in fellowships and financial aid. In measures related to financing, the University ranked 14th among public research universities in annual giving by private donors, 32nd in total federal research funds, 34th in endowment assets, and 41st in total research funds.

New Opportunity for Religious Studies A new religion and culture track has recently been created as part of the Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (CLCS) major within the College of Humanities. The track began as a response to the growing demand for interdisciplinary cultural studies of religion. The degree requirements draw from a variety of academic disciplines including history, philosophy, political science, art history, classical civilizations, English, and Middle East studies. In addition, students in the program have access to specialists in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, French, German, ancient and modern Greek, Japanese, Latin, Persian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Business School Receives Endowment The Sorenson Legacy Foundation, a charitable organization established by the James LeVoy Sorenson family, donated $6 million to the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business for the creation of an interdisciplinary center for the study of discovery and innovation. Named after James LeVoy Sorenson, a Utah medical device inventor who helped pioneer today’s biotechnology industry, the new center will encourage a multidisciplinary examination of innovation and discovery. Collaborating with entrepreneurs and industry, the center hopes to tap into the undeveloped and overlooked creative potential of faculty, students, and citizens. With offices in the soon-to-be renovated and expanded David Eccles School of Business, the center will have the staff and the funds to name a world-renowned chair of discovery and innovation studies to oversee and direct research.

Office of Sustainability Established

Office of Sustainability Established The University of Utah has established an Office of Sustainability (OS) to support its commitment to becoming a more sustainable, energy-efficient campus. As part of its mission, the Office of Sustainability will be promoting new practices and policies to help the University operate more efficiently, mitigate upwardly spiraling energy costs, and reduce the U’s impact on both the natural environment and the surrounding community. Prior to the official launch of the OS, the U added thousands of paper recycling bins on campus, conducted building-by-building energy savings retrofits (e.g. replacing inefficient light bulbs), and adjusted watering practices and schedules to help save millions of gallons of water each year.

Confucius Institute Opens

Confucius Institute Opens The U of U, in partnership with Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, is one of 13 institutions in the U.S. to host a new Confucius Institute to expand the study and knowledge of Chinese language and culture. The People’s Republic of China’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language intends to create 100 Confucius Institutes throughout the world by 2010. At the U, the institute will be housed within the College of Humanities’ Asian Studies Program. Two new full-time Chinese language teachers from Sichuan University will join the faculty, and China-related cultural activities—films, art exhibits, performances, and lectures—along with classes in Chinese language, will be made available to students both on and off campus, including K-12 students.

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In Memoriam

Elizabeth “Betty” Roths Hayes, 96, Professor Emerita of Dance and founder of the University of Utah’s Modern Dance Department, died September 7. Prior to coming to the U, she taught in college programs in Fairmont, W. Va., and Rockford, Ill. Her teaching career at the U spanned 48 years, most as director and chair of Modern Dance. She founded and built the department, adding the dance major in 1953, and developed a high school certification program for the state. She also wrote four books on teaching dance and dance composition/production, which were mandatory texts in the field for many years. Hayes retired from the University in June 1988. The Hayes Christensen Theatre at the Marriott Center for Dance on the U of U campus is named in honor of both Betty and Willam Christensen, founder of the U’s Ballet Department. Hayes’ lifetime of work earned her 23 honors and awards given nationally, by the State of Utah, and by the University, including the Honorary Alumna Award from the Alumni Association in 1993.

Calvin L. Rampton

Calvin L. Rampton BS’36 JD’39, 93, Utah’s 11th governor and tireless champion of the University, died September 16. Rampton was elected to and served three terms as governor, from 1965 to 1976, modernizing the state bureaucracy, creating Utah’s economic and tourism development model, and renovating and expanding the state’s college and university campuses in preparation for the onslaught of baby boomer students. He believed that the pathway to the future passes through the education of the young. His competence was recognized far beyond the borders of Utah as he was entrusted with numerous regional and national responsibilities, including heading up the Education Commission of the States, the National Governors Conference, the Four Corners Regional Council, and the Council of State Governments. (For more on Rampton, see “A Statesman for All Seasons,” Continuum, Summer 2006, at

Robert L. Rice, 78, entrepreneur and generous supporter of the U, died August 29. Rice established European Health Spas, Inc. and came to be universally regarded as one of the leading pioneers of the physical fitness industry. He was appointed to President Nixon’s Council on Physical Fitness in 1972, the same year he donated $1 million to the U for scholarships and expansion of the stadium, which became Rice Stadium. (The Eccles family provided financial assistance for a later expansion, and it is now known as Rice-Eccles Stadium.) Rice was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business Hall of Fame. He was also involved as a volunteer in the U of U community, and at the time of his death, was serving as chair of the Health Sciences Council executive committee.

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