Campus Notebook

End of an Era

Greg Marsden was the U’s head gymnastics coach for 40 seasons.

Greg Marsden was the University of Utah’s head gymnastics coach for 40 seasons. (Photo by Russ Isabella)

Greg Marsden, who led University of Utah gymnastics to unprecedented national success on the competitive floor and in the stands, has retired after 40 seasons as the U’s head coach. He made the announcement in April, the week after Utah placed second at the 2015 NCAA Championships, just five one hundredths of a point out of first place.

His wife, Megan Marsden BS’84, Utah’s six-year co-head coach and an assistant for the previous 25 years, will continue in her current role. Tom Farden, Utah’s assistant coach for the past five years and the former head coach at Southeast Missouri State, has been elevated to co-head coach.

“We’ve actually been preparing for this transition for the past few years, and I feel really secure in leaving this program, which has been my life for 40 years, in the hands of Megan and Tom,” Greg Marsden says. “There is no one reason I chose to leave now. It just felt right. I still love coming to the gym every day and working with these elite student-athletes, coaches, and staff, but I feel the other elements of the job are best suited for someone younger. I have been incredibly fortunate to spend my entire career here at Utah and to receive support unprecedented anywhere in the country from our administration and our amazing fans.”

Marsden retires as the coach with the most wins in college gymnastics history, leaving a 1,048-208-8 record. His 10 national championships tie for the most by any women’s gymnastics team. Hired in the 1975-76 season as a graduate assistant, Marsden took his very first team to the AIAW National Championship, where Utah finished 10th. He has never missed a national championship, with Utah qualifying for an unprecedented 40-straight years, including all 34 NCAA Championships (the only program to do so). The Utes have advanced into the Super Six 19 times in the 23 years under the format, including this season’s runner-up finish.

Marsden’s teams have placed in the top five in the country 29 times, in the top three 23 times, and in the top two 19 times. Utah gymnasts have won 25 individual national championships, including the 2015 NCAA uneven bar title by Georgia Dabritz, and 367 All-America awards.

A seven-time National Coach of the Year recipient, Greg (along with Megan Marsden) has been voted the Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the past two seasons. The Utes won back-to-back Pac-12 Championships in 2014 and 2015. The 2015 NCAA North Central Region Coach of the Year was also awarded to the duo.

Greg Marsden drew national attention for creating an unrivaled atmosphere at home meets, where the Utes own every gymnastics attendance record and have led all women’s sports in attendance five times, including the last three years. They broke their own NCAA single-meet (16,019) and season (14,950) attendance records in 2015. Since 2010, the Utes have averaged more than 14,000 fans a meet in the Huntsman Center, and they have averaged 11,000-plus since 1990.

“The only way to place a positive spin on Greg Marsden’s retirement is that he is leaving the program in the very capable hands of Megan [Marsden] and Tom Farden,” says U Athletics Director Chris Hill MEd’74 PhD’82. “Greg Marsden is not only a legendary coach, he has been an incredible advocate for the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, the sport of gymnastics, and most of all, his student-athletes over the past 40 years.”

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Legislature Awards Funds for Crocker Science Center

Utah_State_Capitol_dome_exteriorThe Utah State Legislature and Governor Gary Herbert showed strong support for the University of Utah this year, including providing $34 million for the U’s Gary and Ann Crocker Science Center. The new center will be an expansion of the George Thomas Building on the U’s Presidents Circle and will provide new interdisciplinary teaching laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment for undergraduate science classes. Construction began this spring.

The Legislature allotted $9.5 million to the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the U, to allow completion of its expansion. The University also received permission to renovate Orson Spencer Hall and the William Browning Building on campus. Lawmakers provided $65 million in capital improvement funding to the Utah System of Higher Education, 25 percent of which will go the U: $16.25 million. And the Legislature earmarked $4 million in ongoing funding for graduate research programs at the University of Utah and Utah State University; the U will receive $2.6 million of that. The U also secured a 2 percent performance-based pay increase for faculty and staff members, as well as an appropriation to cover the increased cost of benefits.

More than 400 volunteers— alumni, present and former faculty and staff, students, and other friends of the U—have signed up to be political advocates for the University of Utah, and they helped by writing and calling lawmakers at key junctures to voice their support for the U. Their efforts were coordinated by the U for Higher Ed Committee through a program sponsored by the Alumni Association and the Office of Government Relations.

“This was another great legislative session for the University of Utah,” says Jason Perry JD’99, the U’s vice president for government relations. “Thanks to the hard work of President David Pershing, our legislative advocates, and our friends in the Legislature, the major priorities of the U were funded this session. We are grateful for the dedicated service of our state leaders and for their investment in higher education.”

Solar Dashboard Shows Real-Time Energy Savings

Marriott Library Dean Alberta Comer, amid the library’s solar panels.

Marriott Library Dean Alberta Comer, amid the library’s rooftop solar panels.

An electronic dashboard installed this spring in the University of Utah’s Marriott Library details the energy savings generated by the library’s solar panels, in real time and using examples of everyday use.

The project was initiated by U alum Tom Melburn BS’12 MBA’14, who in 2012 had spearheaded a plan to put “solar ivy” (small, decorative photovoltaic panels) on the south wall of Orson Spencer Hall, until the idea fell through when the manufacturer couldn’t deliver the order. Melburn then decided to pursue his digital dashboard plan and secured financing through the Associated Students of the University of Utah, Rocky Mountain Power, and the U’s Sustainability Resource Center.

Under the direction of the U’s Facilities Management and the Sustainability Resource Center, Melburn and a group of students selected the library as the site for this project because of its central location on campus, its large number of visitors, and its commitment to sustainability. The dashboard will allow greater exposure to the otherwise unseen roof-mounted solar panels and enable library patrons to learn about the benefits of solar power.

The library’s system is 37.8 kilowatts, grouped into six arrays, with an anticipated annual production of 50,500 kilowatt-hours. The panels are located on the Marriott Library roof, with four arrays on the west mechanical penthouse and two arrays on the east mechanical penthouse. The new solar system produces enough energy to power six houses for one year.


University of Utah Names New Dean for Humanities College

IPRH Dan WhaleyDianne Harris, director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities and professor of landscape architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been selected as the next dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Utah.

Under her leadership, the Illinois Program secured significant external funding to enable scholarship and creative partnerships in the humanities and arts at Urbana-Champaign, says Ruth Watkins, the U’s senior vice president for academic affairs. Harris holds a doctorate in architectural history from the University of California at Berkeley and is best known for her scholarly contributions to the study of the relationship between the built environment and construction of racial and class identities.

Entertainment Arts & Engineering Program Receives Top National Ranking 

EAEVideoGameThe University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering program has earned the title of the top video game school in the nation with a number one ranking for its graduate program and number two for its undergraduate program from The Princeton Review.

The EAE program was formally established in 2007 and currently has 400 undergraduates and 110 graduate students. The interdisciplinary program between the College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts allows students from both disciplines to work closely in video game design and development. Students are highly sought after by local and international game companies.

University of Utah Welcomes 8,363 New Graduates

RQ9A4238The University of Utah’s 2015 graduating class in May was the largest in U history, with 8,363 students—approximately 400 more than last year—representing 24 Utah counties, all 50 U.S. states, and 77 countries.

The Commencement program was designed with the graduates in mind and included the use of videos, multimedia, and a collage of Instagram photos documenting the U experience of the class of 2015, as well as elements of traditional pomp and circumstance. The keynote speaker was Robert A. McDonald MBA’78, U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs and a former president and chief executive officer of Procter & Gamble.

Honorary degrees were presented to three U alumni: Anne Cullimore Decker, Henry B. Eyring, and Mark Fuller. Decker BS’57 MFA’82 is a professional actress and has been a longtime theater instructor at the U. Eyring BS’55 is a first counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a former president of Ricks College. And Fuller HBS’76 is CEO of WET, which has designed more than 250 innovative fountains throughout the world.

University’s School of Music Names New Director 

MiguelChuaquiThe University of Utah’s College of Fine Arts has selected U professor and composer Miguel Chuaqui to serve as director of the School of Music.

Chuaqui has been with the University since 1996, when he began as an assistant professor in the School of Music. He became a full professor and head of the composition area and most recently served as the school’s interim director. He studied piano at the Escuela Moderna de Música and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. In 1984, he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in mathematics and music and completed a doctorate in composition.

His music includes orchestral, chamber, vocal, and electroacoustic works.

Kirk Jowers Leaves U’s Hinckley Institute 

KirkJowersKirk Jowers, a University of Utah professor of political science who has been dubbed the “most quoted man in Utah” during his decade-long tenure as director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, is leaving his post to pursue a career in private industry.

As the Hinckley Institute’s director, Jowers BA’92 helped found many new programs and scholarships, including an international internship program that operates in 58 countries. He also has served as director of federal relations, and chief strategist for the Office of Global Engagement.

Jason Perry JD’99, vice president for government relations at the University, will serve as interim director of the Hinckley Institute following Jowers’ departure June 30, while also maintaining his current role in government relations.

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