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Up front

Facelifts, Finances, and Future Leaders

By Jason Matthew Smith, editor

Well, it has been a long time coming. But it sure was worth the wait.

For the past four years, the J. Willard Marriott Library has been shrouded in scaffolding and skirted by chain-link fencing. Landscaping around the structure became a muddy mess, and it was sometimes a crapshoot determining which entrance was accessible, or whether a certain row of shelves visited yesterday would still be in the same location today. Sure, faculty and students grumbled, but most of the grousing stopped when those original, Cold War-era concrete panels on the building’s exterior were replaced by glass.

A university library is the most democratic institution on any campus. Everyone is welcome to peruse the stacks regardless of major, research interest, or purpose. And a well-stocked, attractive library is often the academic and social heart of a university. The U’s Marriott Library has now been refurbished, and the result is a stunning example of what an academic library should be. Kelley Lindberg takes us on a tour of the library and provides a glimpse of the techno-wizardry behind all of that glass and steel.

Yet another of our feature stories examines how the University is handling the current budget crunch. The U, of course, is not immune to the vagaries of the economy, and as state governments, businesses, families, and students tighten their belts, the U—like most institutions of higher learning in the United States—has had to make some tough choices, and will likely continue to be faced with such challenges for some time to come. However, as writer Susan Vogel illustrates, the University is weathering the economic turbulence comparatively well. That doesn’t mean every department, college, and institute has been giddily slashing budgets. It’s a difficult time for just about everybody in the U of U community. But times like these afford the U a great opportunity to examine what it does best, and to focus on what happens when the economy improves. Fortunately, the University of Utah is on solid financial footing, and when the economic dust settles, the school will be stronger than ever.

Brett Hullinger introduces the International Leadership Academy, a new program at the University that pairs bright, inquisitive students with successful mentors to bridge the gap between “local” and “global.” The ILA is a fine example of one of the U’s specialties: bringing motivated and talented people together to tackle the issues of the day. In just one example from the ILA’s efforts, a student group has established a program to send eyeglasses to underserved populations in Nicaragua. The ILA and other such programs not only extend the U’s reach well beyond the state of Utah, but also give students an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate with one another and to engage in something with real and lasting impact.

Other stories in this issue include profiles of professor of English Jeff Metcalf , who is using his battle with cancer to both entertain and inform, and Sugar Bowl-winning U of U football coach Kyle Whittingham, as well as a reflection by alumnus Shane McCammon on his experiences as a JAG attorney based in Turkey. Literary aficionados will particularly enjoy Linda Marion’s piece ) on Red Butte Press’s success in transforming alum and literary giant Wallace Stegner’s essay “To a Young Writer” into a work of art. And those interested in taking a peek back in time at freshman class fashion will be amused by the And Finally period photo. Be sure to visit Continuum’s Web site to view a photo of one of the few remaining samples of the headgear freshmen were required to wear back when, which now resides in the Office of the President.

We hope you enjoy this issue. As always, we welcome your feedback about any of the stories in the magazine. Feel free to drop us a line—my contact information is below.

We’re eager to hear from you. Please send letters to editor Jason Matthew Smith,, or to 201 Presidents Circle, Room 308, Salt Lake City, UT 84112.

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