Vol. 9 No. 1 THE MAGAZINE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH Summer 1999
G A Z E T T E
KOREAN GIFT BOOSTS MAJOR
An initiative begun last year to expand the University of Utah's Asian Studies program to include a Korean major (see Continuum, Fall 1998) recently received a sizeable boost with a $146,000 grant from the Korea Foundation.
An independent, international exchange organization promoting the development of Korean Studies programs and curricula worldwide, the Korea Foundation was established under a law enacted in 1991 by the National Assembly of Korea to foster a deeper understanding of the country and an appreciation for its culture by the international community. The grant, which U history professors Anand Yang, L. Ray Gunn, and Edward Davies were instrumental in securing, will support a tenure-track faculty position in Korean history and culture for three years beginning July 1. Efforts will be made to secure permanent funding.
"This gift represents an important vote of confidence in the University of Utah's Asian Studies program, which has grown since its inception in 1992 into a comprehensive program of international reputation," says Patricia Hanna, dean of the College of Humanities.
Acknowledging the constraints that the Asian financial crisis and struggling Korean economy have placed on the foundation, Yang, the grant's principal investigator and director of the Asian Studies program, says he is "very grateful" for the gift.
Yang anticipates spending five years to develop the Korean language and literature courses into a major. The program's expansion and receipt of the grant reflect a growing interest in Korea by Utahns and the United States at large, he observes.
The U's program is especially competitive because of the large population of LDS missionaries who return from Asian countries with a desire to improve their language skills, says Yang. "Even when enrollment in programs at other institutions has declined, our enrollment has remained steady or increased," he says.
HEALTH SCIENCES GAINS SENIOR VP
Dr. A. Lorris Betz has been named senior vice president for Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. Dr. Betz was selected following a national search conducted by a committee of U faculty, staff, and students. His areas of responsibility will be all health-related organizations, including University Hospitals and Clinics, the U of U Health Network, Eccles Health Sciences Library, Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the colleges of Health, Nursing, and Pharmacy. Dr. Betz comes to Utah from the University of Michigan, where he spent two years as interim dean of the medical school. He earned his bachelor's and medical degrees as well as a doctorate in biochemistry and physiology from the University of Wisconsin. He completed his pediatric residency and a research fellowship in pediatric neurology at the University of California at San Francisco, then joined the University of Michigan medical school faculty in 1979.
Dr. Betz says he looks toward the position at the University of Utah because of the opportunity to develop a health sciences center that is well integrated in all three areas of its mission--"in other words, education, research, and patient care. Most academic medical centers are striving for integration of their clinical services, and this will be an important goal for the University of Utah Health System. However, the relationships among the School of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Pharmacy, and the College of Health at Utah make it possible to consider integration in the educational and research areas as well. Because of my scope of responsibilities as the senior vice president for Health Sciences, I will be well positioned to lead this greater integration," he says.
"I am also pleased with the desire for improvement and readiness for change on the part of the school and college leadership at Utah and the very strong support of the Salt Lake community. Finally, I am looking forward to once again working with President Bernie Machen, who as provost at the University of Michigan, appointed me as the interim dean of the Medical School," adds Dr. Betz. His appointment is effective June 1.
WHAT ABOUT OLYMPIC DOUGH?
The worldwide scandal surrounding Salt Lake City's bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics poses at least two questions relating to the U: (1) Is the University somehow implicated? (2) Is the funding earmarked the University at risk?
In a report to the Academic Senate and the campus, Wayne McCormack, law professor and campus Olympics coordinate and John Morris, general counsel, said they have investigated and have been a to find no evidence of wrongdoing by University officials. "Tuition payments received for relatives of International Olympic Committee members would have been indistinguishable from the thousands of other third-party payments received on behalf of students," McCormack says.
Construction continues on the student housing that will double as the Olympic Athletes' Village. Graduate/married student apartments and two-, three-,
and four-bedroom single student apartments with the capacity to house 678 students will be ready for occupancy this fall. The housing will cost far more than the Olympics will provide. Of this, $90 million is coming from a University, bond that will be repaid from future housing revenue. Rather than wait for the $28 million promised for 2002 by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, the University accepted the present value of $23 million up front so that the money could be used for construction.
The $23 million came in the form of proceeds from a bond issued by the State of Utah, which is to be paid by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee after the Games. As a formality, the University's Kingsbury Hall was placed in the state "master lease" arrangement (along with thc Matheson Courthouse and the Heber Wells Building) by which the state secures all its construction bonds. "The arrangement allowed the University to get its money in advance, with the state in the position of collecting from SLOC," says McCormack. "An actual foreclosure on these buildings would be unthinkable."
For the use of Rice-Eccles Stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee has agreed to pay the University approximately 4;8.5 million at the end of 2002, including interest earned after April 15 of that year, which is much less than was the total cost of the recent stadium renovation. The same bonding deal used for housing provided the University a "secured interest in post-Games revenue," for the stadium, not merely a promise to pay.
"The only effect I foresee of the scandal on the University is the question of whether downsized budgets will make less money available for cultural events and the like being held in association with the Games," McCormack says. "In the very unlikely event that the Games are a financial disaster, then and only then the stadium funding could be at risk. The money we have already received could become a political issue."
POLLUTION CUTTING CHEMISTRY TOOL
A group of University, of Utah researchers has developed a computational tool that, among other things, may one day pave the way for cleaner-burning automobiles. Associate chemistry professor Thanh N. Truong and two of his students have created computer software that can model molecular reactions in zeolites at a much higher resolution than was possible in the past. They presented their findings at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in March.
Zeolites are microporous materials--like tiny sponges with microscopic holes and pockets. Each of these pockets can serve as a center to react with larger molecules, breaking them down into smaller ones.
For example, one of the uses now being pursued for zeolites is a new type of catalytic converter. Used in automobile exhaust systems, zeolites would take smog-producing nitrous oxide emissions, break them down, and then reform them into nitrogen, oxygen, and water. Unfortunately, one of the current stumbling blocks to this new catalytic converter is that the zeolite reaction also produces small amounts of unwanted organic gases. Using this new modeling tool, researchers can obtain more detailed information--at the molecular level--of the interactions between zeolites and nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and unburned fuel. They may be able to pinpoint how these unwanted byproducts are produced and redesign the zeolites to eliminate them.
The tool developed by U chemists may be used to study other environmental problems as well, such as how hazardous chemical wastes are absorbed through the soil and diffused to ground water. It also may be used to model how drugs interact with biological systems.
As computers become faster, researchers are able to create more realistic models of molecules and to look at their interactions in more complex systems. In situations where experiments are expensive, time- consuming, or too difficult to be carried out, computer modeling can provide a viable alternative to provide needed information. Scientists also often use computer modeling as a cost-effective way to guide experiments toward desired objectives.
"It's revolutionizing the way we do chemistry," Truong says.
The Truong group paper, "Molecular Modeling of Reactions in Zeolites," was co-written by graduate student James Vollmer and post-doctoral student Eugene V. Stefanovich.
FATHER OF DIGITAL SOUND
Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering Thomas Stockham received an Academy Award for his pioneering work in digital sound, including the development of sound-processing techniques that led to the development of compact disks. Stockham received the citation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in February. Throughout his career, Stockham was in the forefront of technological advances that altered the course of the sound and recording industries. A founding faculty member of the Department of Computer Science, he joined the College of Engineering in 1968. Stockham was struck with Alzheimer's disease several years ago, and was unable to receive the award in person. He previously has received an Emmy and a Grammy Award, and is included in the World Book Encyclopedia as the Father of Digital Sound.
Kimberly Hanger, 37, BS'83 MA'85, secretary/treasurer of the University of Utah Alumni Association's Tulsa chapter. Hanger was a professor of history at the University of Tulsa and author of Bounded Lives, Bounded Places: Free Black Society in Colonia New Orleans, 1769-1803.
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