Vol. 15 No. 1
Summer 2005


At the end of every academic year, the Alumni Association, together with its Young Alumni Board, honors selected staff, faculty, and alumni for their commitment to student advising and service to the community, and for their professional achievement. This year’s recipients were honored at a Spring Awards Banquet on April 21 held at Rice-Eccles Stadium (See U-News & Views, www.alumni. utah.edu/u-news/may05).

Par Excellence Award

Stacey Orlob-Richins, Director and Teacher, Children’s Ballet Theatre

“The opportunities I had at the University of Utah helped me to become the kind of teacher I have tried to exemplify throughout my entire dance career. In teaching children, I strive to help them see what their potential can be, not only in dance but also in life—to understand what they can accomplish if they have the discipline and determination to succeed.”

Stacey Orlob-Richins ex’95 has served as a kind of surrogate mother to legions of aspiring young dancers in Utah. During her 20- year career with Children’s Ballet Theatre (CBT), which currently has over 500 students ranging in age from 21/2 to 18, she has seen many students progress from star- struck ingénues to practiced professionals admitted to some of the most prestigious ballet programs in the country.

In addition to teaching and mentoring, Orlob- Richins offers other valuable services to the community. Each year she directs 60 dancers in a concert and food drive. In 2004 the event collected over 300 pounds of food for the Utah Food Bank. She has also choreographed special programs for Red Butte Garden’s Winter Solstice, Peter and the Wolf for the Utah Symphony, and A Fairy Tale for a performance of her students at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Julie Orlob, Stacey’s mother, founded the Children’s Ballet Theatre in 1969. Stacey began dancing as a teenager and, upon entering the U, received the Willam Christensen Scholarship. She eventually became director of CBT, taking over for her mother who, as co-director, observes: “Stacey has created a dynasty in Utah’s world of dance and a legacy of followers who will love and preserve the arts in generations to come. She has molded not only future teachers and performers, but the future audiences that will help keep the arts alive.”

The Philip and Miriam Perlman Award for Excellence in Student Counseling
Faculty: Thomas G. Richmond
, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Chair, Undergraduate Education Committee; and Director, M.S. Degree Program for Secondary School Teachers

“Good advising is an extension of good teaching. It has been an unexpected pleasure to be able to interact with diverse sectors of the University community, including outstanding high school, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral ‘students’ under the guise of academic advising.”

Twice the recipient of ASUU’s “Students’ Choice” teaching awards, Thomas Richmond sees a direct connection between effective teaching and advising, a role he takes very seriously. In addition to counseling high school, graduate, and postdoctoral students, he is the sole faculty advisor to more than 250 undergraduate chemistry majors and the principal point of contact for thousands of students who take chemistry courses as part of their program of study.

“[Richmond’s] informal style and wry sense of humor make him an ideal person with whom students can discuss their short- and long- term aspirations,” says Peter B. Armentrout, chair of the chemistry department. Richmond takes a proactive approach to advising. He has developed customized e-mail lists to stay in touch with specifi c groups of chemistry majors, providing information on scholarships, job and research opportunities, and classes. In conjunction with his open door appointment policy, Richmond set up a study area outside his offi ce so students could be comfortable while waiting their turn. Since becoming chair of the undergraduate education committee, Richmond has seen the number of chemistry majors almost double and the department’s ranking rise to 25th in the nation. “Clearly,” says Armentrout, “outstanding advising has played a key role in this growth in national stature.”

Staff: Elizabeth Leckie, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, College of Humanities; Academic Coordinator, University College

“Working and studying at the University of Utah has provided me with unexpected opportunities and exciting challenges. I am so fortunate to have a career that allows me to live my passions for education, advocacy, and social justice. I have worked with some of the brightest and most compassionate people on campus. I owe much gratitude to the students, staff, and faculty who encourage, support, and challenge me daily.”

Robert Newman, dean of the College of Humanities, says he has never encountered someone as caring and committed to undergraduate students as Liz Leckie BA’97 MA’99. For the three years she has served as assistant dean for undergraduate affairs, “She has surpassed all of my expectations and has elevated significantly the quality and breadth of advising in the college and on campus generally,” says Newman.

A graduate in speech communication, with a master’s in communication, Leckie thrives in her role as mentor and guide. Her responsibilities as academic coordinator at University College are multifaceted: advising transfer students, serving as orientation trainer and liaison, and generally counseling undergraduates about the complexities of college life, with the goal of making their early college experience rewarding and enjoyable.

Leckie is also responsible for selecting and supervising students in the college’s O.C. Tanner “Humanities House” in Fort Douglas, which provides housing for a diverse mix of outstanding students. She spends “countless hours” at residence hall events, in résumé workshops, and at graduate school planning information sessions. Says Jaymes Myers, Residence Halls Association president: “I have never had the opportunity to meet or interact with an administrator, advisor, and mentor on this campus who is as dedicated and passionate [about her job] as Liz Leckie.”

Faculty Community Service Award
Karen F. Buchi MD’84, Professor of Pediatrics

“Working with residents and students in the care of underserved and at-risk children is the most challenging and rewarding part of my job. University students, whether undergraduate or in their residencies, have a great desire to serve their community.”

Utah’s children have benefited greatly from the M.D. attached to Karen Buchi’s name. A graduate of the College of Idaho in Caldwell and a University of Utah faculty member since 1990, Buchi has provided services to young Utahns well beyond her role as a general and developmental pediatrician. Her clinical work involves teaching others how to provide care for high-risk and underserved populations, with particular emphasis on drug-endangered children. In serving the community she represents a role model for pediatric residents and medical students.

A committed children’s advocate, Buchi has served on the board of directors of Utah Children, Holy Cross Ministries, Voices for Utah Children, and the Medical Advisory Board of the Guadalupe school, and she is a founding member of the Drug Endangered Child Medical Advisory Team of the Salt Lake Methamphetamine Initiative.

She is married to Kenneth Buchi BS’73 MD’78, and is the stepmother of Amy and mother of Jennifer and Emily.

Adjunct Faculty Award
Paul Christensen BS’75, Instructor, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism

“I have enjoyed my teaching experience very much…[and] am impressed at the caliber of my students. My reward is watching them progress and get promoted and move on to a great career!”

For the past 29 years, Paul Christensen has been general manager of hotels in and around Utah and Idaho—at the Radisson and the Olympia Park Hotel in Park City, Holiday Inn in Provo, and Cotton Tree Associates in Pocatello—with the last three years at the Park City Marriott. Christensen is a specialist in recreation and hospitality services, sales and marketing, and resort management—courses he has been teaching as an adjunct instructor at the U since 1991. His teaching effectively combines professional expertise and practical experience in the hospitality industry.

Christensen’s quick wit and personal anecdotes keep his evening classes lively and engaging. To enhance the learning experience, he has “hosted tours of his workplace, provided training opportunities and internships for students, hired many graduates, and facilitated opportunities with other agencies within the parks, recreation and tourism industry,” notes Linda S. Ralston, associate professor and coordinator of Leisure Services Management.

Christensen devotes much of his time to mentoring students and involving them in workplace situations. “Paul has always been willing to help,” observes one of his students. “I get the feeling that he wants his students to succeed, not only in the university setting, but in life as well.”

The Mighty Utah Student Section cheers for its own

How about winning a scholarship for being an avid Utah fan? That’s exactly what stalwart MUSS members Andrea Muhlestein and Jeff Gatzemeier did.

Jeff Gatzemeier

It happened like this: Last fall, Crowell Advertising of Salt Lake City sponsored the Football MUSS to the tune of $5,000. Tracy Crowell, president of the firm, designated that $3,000 be used to subsidize “MUSS Bus II” to the Utah-San Diego State game last October. Crowell asked that the remaining $2,000 be used for two $1,000 scholarships for winter semester.

Several criteria—besides being able to cheer loudly for the Utes—were considered. Applicants were also judged on academic excellence and service to the University and to the community.

In the end 54 applications were received and the Crowell staff selected six students as finalists. After in-depth interviews, Muhlestein and Gatzemeier were selected.

Andrea Muhlestein

Muhlestein is a senior majoring in psychology. She has been a fixture in the football MUSS since it was organized for the 2002 season and has actively recruited MUSS members at new student orientation sessions and across campus. She is a member of the Student Alumni Board and serves as co-chair of the Student Relations Committee. She has followed the Utah football team across the country, including road trips to the 2003 Liberty Bowl and to the Texas A&M game. She is also a member of the LDSSA Delta sorority and has served in the ASUU assembly and as chair of the ASUU elections committee.

Gatzemeier, president-elect of the football MUSS last season, is a graduate student in pharmacy. He will be president of the football MUSS for the 2005 season and is a member of the Student Alumni Board.


MUSS President Ian White BS'05

The MUSS can rightly cheer for itself in other ways, as well. As the recipient of the bronze medal in the “Student Involvement Programs and Projects” category, awarded to the Alumni Association and MUSS Advisor John Fackler BS’89 BS’94 MprA’95 by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the MUSS has good reason to crow.

Nineteen entries were judged in the CASE competition, which included universities and colleges across the country, but only one gold, one silver, and one bronze medal were awarded nationwide.

“The CASE award is a great reflection of what the MUSS is all about,” says recent graduate Ian White BS’05, president of the MUSS, “which is to create the experiences of our college years that will be implanted in our memories.

“The MUSS is unique,” White continues. “It has brought students of various backgrounds and interests together, united in a single cause. Years after graduation, MUSS members will remember with pride their part in what our incredible football, basketball, and gymnastics teams accomplished this and other years, and they’ll tell their children that they were a part of it all.”


Elizabeth “Buzz” Buckmiller BS’05, the newest member of the Alumni Association, got her nickname early in life when a waitress patted the toddler’s head and asked her parents, “Why the buzz cut?” Poker faces intact, the Buckmillers replied that young Elizabeth’s hair was kept short because she was a member of a baby swim team. It wasn’t true, but it could have been, for “Buzz” has been beelining her way through life ever since.

Born in 1988, Buzz just graduated from the U—at age 16. She enrolled in fall 2001, without a high school diploma on a non-matriculation status. In order to be accepted at the U, she “took a lot of tests and talked to a lot of people,” she says, who determined she was capable of doing college work.

The first couple of years “were equivalent to high school,” Buzz explains. She eventually took on a double major— physics and political science—and graduated in the standard four years with a dual degree.

“It was a challenge,” she says, at the same time pointing out that “college isn’t supposed to be easy.”

Why physics? “It was kind of my childhood thing,” she says. “I really enjoy science and math”—at which she has excelled, assisted by the College of Science’s ACCESS Scholarship Program. (The program provides about 21 female students each year the opportunity to explore opportunities in science and mathematics, which includes laboratory experience and working as a research assistant.)

Asked about Harvard President Lawrence Summers’ recent controversial comments about women’s supposed lack of aptitude in math and science, Buzz replies, without hesitation, “That’s a bunch of baloney.”

Buzz’s career goal, however, is aimed at her other major—political science, or, more specifically, U.S. national security policy, which she hopes to focus on in graduate school. (She has applied and been accepted at the U but is still considering her options.)

Right now, Buzz is finishing the second year in the Air Force’s four-year ROTC program, which involves taking classes and participating in leadership laboratories. She will do field training this summer, and she hasn’t ruled out a career in the Air Force. For someone who enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, and who loves to fly, the Air Force isn’t a stretch.

Throughout her university experience, Buzz’s parents have been “incredibly supportive,” she says. She is equally grateful to “all sorts of people at the U [who] have helped me,” especially Kari Ellingson, vice president for Student Affairs. “She’s been fabulous,” Buzz says. “She helped me out so much.”

“When we initially spoke with Buzz and her parents about admission to the University when she was 12,” says Ellingson, “we were concerned about how she would handle being in classes with students often twice her age. She was, and is, fantastic. The main comment I heard from faculty and administrators who encountered her was that they wanted more students like Buzz. She is dedicated, enthusiastic and obviously loves learning.”

Buzz expresses equal appreciation to everyone in the ACCESS program. In turn, Sid Rudolph, director of ACCESS, describes Buzz as “a very mature young woman.” It was her maturity that “provided the ballast that allowed Buzz to be the successful student she was,” he says. “Her ACCESS experience, the friends she made in the program, the contacts in physics and others at the U all helped. Ultimately Buzz succeeded because she had it within her to handle what was thrown her way.”

—Photo and story by Linda Marion BFA’67 MFA’71, managing editor of Continuum.

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