Association News Record food drive proceeds, alumni help select political delegates, and more

U Raises Record Amount In Annual Food Drive

U students who are members of The MUSS hold up cans of food during the annual Utah vs. BYU Food Drive. The U gathered 421,798 pounds of food.

The final tally from the Utah vs. BYU food drive is in! A remarkable total of 616,398 pounds of food and $153,792 in cash donations were raised for the Utah Food Bank and the United Way Food Bank of Utah County. Of the combined total, University of Utah organizers were responsible for 421,798 pounds of food and $108,045 in cash donations that went to the Utah Food Bank, an increase of 69,573 pounds and $15,011 in cash donations over the U’s 2010 record.

The generous donations came despite the lack of a rivalry football game with Brigham Young University this year during the time of the food drive; in past years, the rivalry game had helped spur donations. But the Student Alumni Board of the University of Utah Alumni Association, The MUSS Board, the Associated Students of the University of Utah, and volunteers worked with community members in November in a big effort to fight hunger in Utah.

The U food drive ran Nov. 12-25, with collection spots on campus, in local grocery stores, at the Utah Food Bank, and at Rice-Eccles Stadium when Utah played Colorado on November 25 during the last Pac-12 football game of the season. The results were unprecedented.

“The increase is directly attributable to the University of Utah community not being willing to let someone go hungry simply because there wasn’t a rivalry week football game,” says John Fackler BS’89 BS’94 MprA’95, the Alumni Association’s director of business and outreach. “We did a reality check in mid-October and realized that despite difficulties, we’d go back to the food drive basics: promoting school spirit, beating BYU, providing hope. That’s when members of the Alumni Association’s Community Service Committee, Student Alumni Board, and The MUSS Board redoubled their commitment to the cause.”

In addition to the food drive, efforts to raise hunger awareness took place all over campus during the month of November. The U’s College of Social Work challenged community members and faculty to take part in the Utah Food Stamp Challenge Nov. 8-14. Participants in the challenge experienced what it’s like to rely on a food stamp budget for a full week. More than 293,000 Utahns use food stamps to feed their families, and the average allowance they get is a daily budget of $4 per person—roughly $1.33 per meal.

The Lowell Bennion Community Service Center hosted its annual Hunger Banquet on November 22. Community members ate a dinner of soup and bread at the banquet, which focused on exploring hunger in Utah. Every day, 63,000 people in Utah eat dinner at a soup kitchen. Proceeds from the banquet went toward supporting the food drive.

“This year’s food drive is a great example of the ability of Utah alumni and students to come together and help the community, even without a big rivalry week game,” Fackler says.
“Some individuals and businesses made large individual donations of food and money, which are greatly appreciated. But the heart and soul of this effort were literally thousands of Utah supporters giving what they could. Students bringing cans to their schools. Shoppers donating to volunteers at grocery stores. And we received extremely generous donations from fans and tailgaters on game day.”

Five Honored With 2012 Founders Day Awards

The 2012 Founders Day Award recipients, from top, are Arthur L. Ruoff, Gary Crocker, Klea Blackhurst, J. Michael Mattson, and H. Roger Boyer.

Four outstanding graduates of the University of Utah and one honorary alumnus have been presented with the 2012 Founders Day awards.

Actress Klea Blackhurst BFA’85, businessman H. Roger Boyer BS’65, former U vice president J. Michael Mattsson BS’60, and scientist Arthur L. Ruoff PhD’55 received the Distinguished Alumnus/a Award at the University of Utah Alumni Association’s Founders Day Banquet on February 22. These awards are the highest honor the Alumni Association gives to U graduates, in recognition of their outstanding professional achievements and/or public service. Gary Crocker, a Utah entrepreneur, received an Honorary Alumnus Award, in recognition of his support of the University.

Blackhurst, who graduated from the U with a degree in theater, lives and works in New York and currently plays Shelby Cross on The Onion News Network. Her first big break was in Oil City Symphony at Circle in the Square Downtown. Since then, she has performed on both New York and London stages. Her homage to Ethel Merman, Everything the Traffic Will Allow, was met with critical acclaim when it opened in 2001 and was honored with the inaugural Special Achievement Award from Time Out New York magazine as well as the 2002 Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Clubs award for Best Female Vocalist.

Boyer is chairman and founder of The Boyer Company, which has developed commercial properties throughout the Intermountain West, including The Gateway shopping center in Salt Lake City and several buildings in the U’s Research Park. After graduating from the U, Boyer went on to obtain a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. He was an executive with Terracor, a Salt Lake-based land and residential development company, until he founded The Boyer Company in 1972. He is a former chair of the Utah Division of Business and Economic Development Board and a former member of the University of Utah’s Board of Trustees.

Mattsson was the University of Utah’s vice president of development from 1985 to 2006. At the time of Mattsson’s retirement, former U President David Gardner said, “I can think of no other individual from the time I first knew Mike in 1973 to today who has had more influence on the University’s efforts to make friends and secure private funding.” Mattsson graduated from the U with a degree in political science in 1960. He became the director of development and communications for the University of Utah Medical Center in 1972. Under his leadership as the University’s first vice president for development, the U raised a then-unprecedented $1.7 billion.

Ruoff has had an influential and award-winning career in the field of materials science. He has been a professor at Cornell University since he graduated with his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Utah in 1955. Ruoff won the Westinghouse Award for Outstanding Teaching, wrote two influential books on materials science, and served as chair of the Department of Materials Science at Cornell from 1978 to 1988. His research has focused on the structural and electronic behavior of materials at extreme pressures. “His award-winning research has changed our fundamental understanding of how matter behaves under extreme conditions,” says Henry S. White, Distinguished Professor and chair of the U’s Chemistry Department.

Crocker is president of Crocker Ventures and chairman of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, and has been honored as Entrepreneur of the Year for Utah by both Ernst & Young and the MountainWest Capital Network. He received both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Harvard University. He currently serves as chair of the University of Utah College of Science Advisory Board. And he is the lead donor in the renovation of the historic George Thomas Building (former home of the Natural History Museum of Utah), which will become the Crocker Science Center, a state-of-the-art center for scientific research and teaching for the College of Science.

U Alumni Help Mobilize Caucus Attendance

Lawmakers and citizens gather in the rotunda of the Utah State Capitol.

The University of Utah community is being called upon to support higher education in 2012 at the most fundamentally important and influential level of Utah politics—the delegate selection process.

Utah has a rather unique political nominating system: It is one of seven states that use a caucus/convention system as a method for bypassing primary elections. This means that Utah’s candidates for state and federal office often are chosen by delegates, not by voters in a primary election. How are these delegates chosen? By ordinary citizens who attend neighborhood caucus meetings one night of the year (even-numbered years only) in March. This year’s meetings are March 13 at 7 p.m. for Democrats and March 15 at 7 p.m. for Republicans.

Historically, only about 2 percent of Utahns have attended their caucus meetings, meaning the other 98 percent choose from the candidates that this sliver of the population has nominated. It’s important to become part of the process by selecting those who do the nominating—the delegates—or by becoming delegates. Without voices for higher education among the delegates, the higher education community is fighting an uphill battle for support at the Utah State Legislature. It’s not enough to try to influence what the decision makers are deciding. Utah residents need to influence who those decision makers are, and that begins with the delegate selection process at the precinct caucus meetings.

To help faculty, staff, students, and alumni learn more about how to become a delegate, a nonpartisan group called Education First conducted precinct caucus training sessions on the University of Utah campus and on other campuses across the state in February. The University of Utah Alumni Association helped mobilize people who had signed up to be political advocates for the U by getting the word out to them about the sessions. The purpose of these training sessions was to give people the basic tools and knowledge needed to attend their local meeting and be an effective voice. The training was a free service provided by the University of Utah and Education First. Alumni in other parts of the state were able to attend training sessions on other public-college campuses that were closer and more convenient for them.

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