Fresh to the U

Here’s a challenge: Think back to those days of your freshman year at the U. Maybe you were a little nervous, or maybe not—perhaps you were supremely confident. Whatever your state of mind, odds are that you had no clue what the next four or five (or more) years would bring.

The freshman year of college is a crucial time—younger students, flush with newfound freedom, may go hog wild and do everything but study for exams. Or they may be anxiety-ridden over doing well and engage in marathon studying. Either way, sometimes students discover new interests along the way. Anything can happen during the freshman year. And that’s what makes it so compelling.

With this issue, Continuum launches an experiment: Beginning on page 24, Kelley Lindberg introduces five freshmen just starting their academic adventures here at the U. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and locations—from Omaha to Beijing. We will follow these students throughout their time at the University, checking in on occasion to see how they’re doing. The goal is to offer readers a glimpse into the life of a University student, circa 2010 and beyond. We’ll chronicle their ups and downs, failures and successes, and you’re invited along for the ride. The students will maintain blogs on Continuum’s Web site, which they will update frequently. This should be an interesting and enlightening exercise—an opportunity to get to know a handful of students as they begin a new phase in their lives. And you might be surprised by the variety of pressures facing today’s students—many different than those confronted by earlier generations.

Elsewhere in this issue, John Blodgett explores the U’s role in paleontology (page 30). The U of U has long occupied a central position as an important institution for the study of dinosaurs, in part because of our proximity to some world-class fossil beds. In recent years, the U has contributed a steady stream of scholarship to the field, and Blodgett takes us beyond the museum exhibits to examine the dusty, difficult work of paleontologists.

On page 18, Susan Vogel offers up a tour of the new Sutton Building, home to the College of Mines and Earth Sciences. The structure epitomizes the future of academic architecture, blending state-of-the-art classrooms with an environment that is pleasing to the senses while also serving as a didactic tool. The building not only enhances learning through smart design, but at the moment it’s the University’s “greenest” structure, incorporating numerous elements to lessen its impact on the environment. The Sutton Building is just the first of many “smart” structures (both academically and environmentally) that are destined to be the standard for the future.

Also in this issue, John Youngren takes a look at the U’s recent switch to the Pac-10 conference and examines what it means for the University now that we’ve joined the big leagues—or, if you prefer, a “different” league (page 10). On page 14, Susan Vogel puts a spotlight on KUED’s new general manager, Michael Dunn; and on page 36, Linda Marion interviews writer and alumna Zoe Murdock, whose first novel explores the impact of polygamy on a modern American family.

The Continuum staff would also like to take a moment to bid farewell to the magazine’s publisher, Mark Woodland. For the past four years, Mark has enthusiastically supported and guided this publication, and his insight has been invaluable. As he moves on to more westerly pastures, all of us on the Continuum staff wish him the best.

I hope you enjoy this issue. Be sure to check back often for updates. And please don’t hesitate to leave a comment on any of the stories posted here. We welcome your feedback.


Some individuals in photographs on page 14 of the Summer 2010 issue were not identified correctly. The woman pictured in the top left photo is Helen Henderson. In the photo at the bottom of the page, U President Michael K. Young is shaking hands with Wilford Goodwill, for whom the new Social Work building was named. Bill Farley is near the center of the photo, in the navy jacket and gray slacks.

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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