Committing to the Community

I am often surprised by the number of letters I receive that begin with a phrase much like this:  “Your recent issue brought back so many memories—I grew up near the University of Utah, and before I was even enrolled as a student, my family frequently visited campus.”  Letters highlighting just such a sentiment are the perfect illustration of how deeply the University of Utah is woven into the fabric of the community. The U is as much a destination for culture and entertainment as it is for education. Meaningful interaction between town and gown builds mutual respect, strengthens both community and institution, and forges some unforgettable memories, as our alums will attest.

The two feature stories in this issue focus on ways in which the University is serving the community at large. Yes, the University fosters breakthroughs, generates ideas, educates students, and so much more—but it is also a neighbor.

In Kelley Lindberg’s story on the University Neighborhood Partners/Hartland project, we see how the University joins with the community to help underserved and marginalized populations. The project—located in an apartment complex on Salt Lake City’s west side—provides language instruction, financial literacy, and other classes to individuals who may have recently arrived in the U.S. (from such disparate locations as Somalia, Iraq, and Bosnia) or those who may need a little extra help navigating linguistic or cultural complexities. The story makes an important distinction: This is not simply about the University’s reaching out; rather, it’s about the University’s “embedding” itself in the community. As proof of the U’s commitment, the UNP/Hartland program is purchasing and expanding into a new, 10,000-square-foot facility next door to the original apartment complex. The goal is not only to provide assistance to those in need, but also to offer U of U students and faculty in various disciplines a chance to work hand-in-hand with residents. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to share knowledge. Says Rosemarie Hunter, UNP director:  “The goal of this was not just to impact the west side, but to change the structure of the University and how it works, so that across the institution we begin thinking about how we tie teaching and research to the communities where we live.”

Brett Hullinger reveals a very different side of the U’s commitment to community with a behind-the-scenes peek at Pioneer Theatre Company. PTC (as well as a handful of other performing arts groups on campus) consistently provides high-quality productions for the residents of Utah throughout the year. Hullinger’s story highlights the work of some of the talented craftspeople who help pull together PTC’s productions—people who don’t usually share the spotlight with the actors and actresses, but without whom the play would not go on.

Also in this issue, we welcome the contributions of two new writers to Continuum. Dave Wieczorek profiles author and alum Les Standiford, whose forthcoming  book investigates the abduction and murder of young Adam Walsh, an event that arguably “changed American childhood forever.” And Katy Muldoon introduces us to alumna Angela Haseltine Pozzi whose sea sculptures constructed of castoff garbage have drawn attention to the plight of aquatic systems everywhere—and have also had a restorative effect on the artist.

Paul Ketzle spotlights English professor Kathryn Stockton, who pioneered gender studies here at the U and whose classes are enormously popular. Her journey from aspiring Episcopal priest to English professor is both engaging and inspiring. And finally, John Youngren visits with newly arrived gymnast Corrie Lothrop, an exceptional athlete who adds her talents to the Red Rocks this season.

And—as always—we enjoy reading your letters, whether they’re reminiscences about your days at the U or responses to something you’ve read in Continuum. So please, keep ’em coming. You’ll find contact information 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. You’re also welcome to leave a comment on any of the stories on this site, or contact us here.

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