Vol. 14 No. 4
Spring 2005

Up Front


I’m in the amazing business.
—Al Pacino, Scent of A Woman

In the fall, when the U of U marching band begins practicing on the soccer field behind the Alumni House, it’s a sure sign that the academic year is under way. Like dedicated letter carriers, band members are undeterred by inclement weather: Come rain, sleet, wind, hail or snow, they deliver—feet stomping, drums pounding, brass blaring, “Utah Man” reverberating across campus.

It’s a thrilling sound, one that stirs something primitive inside, like the urge to hunt ungulates with a spear, or conquer a small country, or—better—perform some grand, noble deed.

It could be 20/20 hindsight, but this year the band seemed to play with exceptional fervor, perhaps sensing that fall 2004 was going to be an extraordinary season for football (although how extraordinary, probably no one could have foreseen).

The enthusiasm generated by the Utes’ unbeaten season, topped by the team’s well-earned victory in the Fiesta Bowl on January 1, was truly amazing. Described by the ABC sports commentator as “the little team that could” (ugh), the Utes met their fans’ lofty expectations by wiping Pittsburgh off the field.

The high level of “fansmanship” demonstrated by Utes near and far appears to belie the belief, long-held, that allegiance among alumni to their alma mater is lacking—the old commuter-campus-and-all-that argument. Well, ’t ain’t true. The road to the Fiesta Bowl was lined with cheering, delirious fans, and it could be argued that their loyalty to and affection for the U transcends football. Call it “the spillover effect,” or whatever, but I believe there is a deep core of admiration among members of the U of U community—faculty, staff, alumni, donors, friends—for the high-quality academic environment the school provides. (It also helps that some of this year’s football stars, like Alex Smith, Morgan Scalley and others, are academic high achievers.) The U’s success in football, or in any competition played out in a public arena, simply brings feelings of affiliation and admiration bubbling to the surface.

Led by head cheerleader Michael K. Young, the U continues to set records and achieve outstanding results in the areas of teaching, research, community service, technological innovation and invention, and, of course, sports. In short, the U is indeed in the amazing business, providing the stuff that makes the stories that fill the pages of Continuum.

In this issue, for example, we learn of a higher education partnership that has been established between the U and the Academy for Math, Engineering and Science (AMES)—part of the Early College High School initiative—as well as the U’s Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL), one of only two drug-testing facilities in the United States accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency. We are offered insight into critical issues in the Middle East via a conversation with Ibrahim Karawan, director of the Middle East Center and an international expert on the region, along with the U.T.E.S. CHAMPS/Life Skills Program, which helps student athletes achieve equilibrium between sports and studies. And for those who have never heard of Portuguese water dogs, a flip through the pages reveals the dog’s contribution to research on canine autoimmune diseases. Julie Paegle highlights Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali and the prestigious poetry prize established in his name, and alumnus Rick Sandack takes readers on a walk down memory lane, reflecting on his father Wally Sandack’s career as a radio announcer at the time “theater of the mind” was in its heyday. And in “And Finally,” clinical psychologist Calvin R. Petersen prompts readers to contemplate atrocity and the frailties of human nature.

Readers will soon hear another distinctive voice—that of Jason Matthew Smith, Continuum’s new editor. Although he hails from Southern Utah University, Jason’s heart pumps pure red. If proof is needed, one of the first things he did after arriving on campus was to buy a red sweatshirt before driving to the Fiesta Bowl, where he cheered himself hoarse with the best of ’em. A transplant from Texas, via Wyoming and Southern Utah—and former editor of Salt Lake magazine—Jason will soon add his own unique perspective to the pages of Continuum.
Drum roll, please!

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