News of the University

Together We Reach: An Update on the U’s Capital Campaign

Fred Esplin

Since July 2005, the University has been engaged in a comprehensive capital campaign—“Together We Reach”—to raise funds for scholarships, research, facilities, and many other areas. The goal is to reach $1.2 billion by October 2013, when the campaign will come to an end. Continuum asked Vice President for Institutional Advancement Fred Esplin MA’74 for an update on the campaign’s progress.

How much has been raised to date? As of December 31, 2009, nearly $742 million.

Which areas are receiving the highest gift amounts? Research, public programs, and facilities.

Which areas are donors giving to the most? Public programs, academic support, and scholarships/fellowships.

What has surprised you most about the campaign? There have been two very pleasant surprises so far: First is the number of new donors to the University (more than 41,000 [as of Dec. 31]), which was one of our objectives but which has been far more successful than we had hoped. The second is how generous our alumni and friends have been over the past year during the recession. We actually received more support during the past year than the prior year, which we did not expect.

How does a university decide how much it needs in its endowment? The University’s total endowment is the sum of over 1,400 individual endowments for everything from scholarships to named chairs. They provide a very important source of financial stability over time, so the University of Utah, like all our peers, constantly seeks to increase this stable source of funding. There is no magic number or goal, but a growing endowment is a sign of a healthy university.

How much does the University currently have in its endowment? As of September 2009, we had $454 million in our endowment fund, plus another $71 million in funds held in trust by others on behalf of the University, for a total of $525 million.

How does the University’s endowment compare with other universities of similar size? Ours is the 125th largest among 800 private and public universities nationwide.

Since this campaign has been so successful, how will legislators read or respond to our need for additional funding? Funding for the University is a private-public partnership, and neither source can replace the other. State support is essential to our teaching mission and to fund our growing enrollment, while private support gives us a margin of excellence in teaching, research, and service that State funds cannot provide.

Learn more about the Capital Campaign here.

The Work Lives On


Craig Arnold

Craig Arnold’s poetry continues to win praise, a year after his disappearance.

Poet Craig Arnold PhD’01 has been missing for more than a year and is presumed dead, but his work continues winning awards in his absence. Most recently, Arnold’s 2008 collection Made Flesh received the High Plains Book Award for Poetry in late fall 2009. Arnold’s fiancée, poet Rebecca Lindenberg (a doctoral student in poetry at the University of Utah), accepted the award on his behalf. Made Flesh also won in the poetry category of the 10th annual Utah Humanities Council Book Festival awards in October 2009.

On April 27 of last year, Arnold went missing while on a short solo hike on the small volcanic island of Kuchinoerabujima, Japan. When he failed to return to his inn, a search was launched. After the Japanese government exhausted its efforts, family and friends took over and funded an independent search by the international 1st Special Response Group. Those searchers followed Arnold’s trail to the edge of a steep cliff. After attempting descent into the dense, treacherous crevasse, searchers finally concluded that Arnold had died in a fall and his body would likely never be recovered. At the time of his disappearance, Arnold was at work on a book about active volcanoes. The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, and many other honors, Arnold had taught poetry at the University of Wyoming in Laramie since 2004, with absences to work in Rome, Colombia, and elsewhere.

The Digit

[ 2.8 million ]

Number of square feet of space built, remodeled, currently under construction, or being planned at the U of U during the last five years.

Campus Notebook

Jon Huntsman, Jr. to Deliver 2010 Commencement Address

Photo courtesy of Ambassador Huntsman’s Office

United States Ambassador to China and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. will deliver the commencement address at the 2010 University of Utah commencement ceremony, to be held on Friday, May 7, in the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Huntsman was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as U.S. ambassador to China in May 2009, and his nomination was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Twice elected as governor of Utah, Huntsman won a record percent of the vote in 2008, including the majority in all 29 counties. As governor, Huntsman aimed his efforts toward increasing the state’s economic competitiveness and maximizing funding to Utah’s public education system.

Global Pathways Program Launched

The University of Utah and the global education company Kaplan have established a Global Pathways Program that was launched in January 2010. The purpose of the partnership is to prepare students from around the world for admission to the University. The innovative 12-month program combines intensive English language training, university study skills preparation, and the first year of a bachelor’s degree program. Students who successfully complete the program can progress directly into the second year of study at the U and choose a major. Kaplan provides marketing, recruitment, and admissions support, as well as a wide range of other support services for students, while the University provides the academic and English language instruction.

U of U Among Top Institutions in National Competition for Research Funding

University of Utah medical scientists have won more than $7.9 million in federal economic stimulus Challenge Grants for 10 research projects—from the immensely complex task of diagramming genetic connections in the brain to developing a skin seal that prevents infection caused by artificial limb attachments. The Challenge Grants, funded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, are aimed at jump-starting particular areas of biomedical and behavioral exploration through high-risk and innovative research. Thousands of scientists from 241 U.S. institutions applied for the funding through the National Institutes of Health. The U of U is in the top 10 percent of the 241 universities receiving the grants in terms of number and dollar amount.

Architecture + Planning Building to Undergo Renovation

The University’s College of Architecture + Planning intends to renovate its 40-year-old Brutalist-style facility (characterized by concrete with no formal finish) in such a way that the building consumes the least possible amount of energy and, at the same time, begins to generate its own energy, thus accomplishing a net-zero energy state of operations. Expected to be the first institutional building renovated to a net zero standard anywhere in the United States, the building will be autonomous from the University’s grid, and energy will be produced on site.

UMNH Assumes Management of Range Creek

The Utah Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah assumed full management responsibilities for the historic Wilcox Ranch in Range Creek Canyon on December 17, 2009. Known for its remote and rugged landscape, Range Creek, located about 30 miles southeast of Price, Utah, has become valued by researchers from across the country for its unique prehistoric Fremont archeological sites. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), and the UMNH participated in a three-way land transfer in order for the museum to lease the Wilcox Ranch for use as a field research station. DWR had been appointed the responsible agency in 2004. For the past 10 years, museum and U of U archeologists and staff have helped to direct the scientific research of Range Creek, focusing on archeology, botany, and geography.


The University of Utah was named the 24th best academic institution in the United States to work for in the latest rankings of The Scientist, the magazine for life science professionals. In “Best Places to Work 2009: Academia–Top 40 US Academic Institutions,” the U is ranked alongside such vaunted institutions of higher education as Princeton, Emory, and Stanford, and ranks above others including UC-Davis, Vanderbilt, and Duke.

Kudos to KUED for being the first recipient of the Overall Station Excellence Award from the Rocky Mountain Regional Emmy Awards. This award considers a station’s quality, service, diversity, and commitment over the course of an entire year. More than 50 stations were eligible in the Rocky Mountain region. In addition, several KUED programs received Emmy Awards
for being judged best in their class in the region.

The David Eccles School of Business Professional MBA program has been named one of the nation’s best by BusinessWeek magazine. The DESB Professional MBA ranks 50th in the nation overall and is the only BusinessWeek-ranked part-time MBA program in Utah. The program also placed sixth for highest program graduation rate and 11th in the percentage of tenured faculty teaching in the program, and was rated a “best” for job changers. Some 99 programs were evaluated in the rankings survey.

Now if we may take a moment to toot our own horn… Continuum recently added another accolade to its collection: a bronze award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), District VII, in the “General Interest Magazine, Over 75,000 Circulation” division of the CASE 2009 Awards of Excellence. It’s a very competitive category, with entries from many of the major universities in the district—which besides Utah includes Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, the vast state of California, and even Guam. The Continuum editorial staff is proud to have been recognized in the top three from among these worthy competitors.

Research Roundup

Losing While Cruising to the Store

Contrary to what some might believe, living near a variety of restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, and even fast food outlets actually lowers one’s risk for obesity, according to a new study from the U. Surprisingly, people who live more than a half-mile away from any food outlets are the ones who tend to be fatter. “Having access to a range of food options in your neighborhood affects both your energy input and output,” says Cathleen Zick, coauthor of the study and professor of family and consumer studies. “A healthy grocery option may influence the food you choose to buy, while having multiple food destinations within walking distance might encourage you to walk, rather than drive, to your next meal.” The study suggests that placing restrictions on fast food outlets may not be effective, but that initiatives to increase healthy neighborhood food options may reduce individuals’ obesity risks, especially if focused on low-income neighborhoods.

The study compared the body mass index of nearly 500,000 Salt Lake County residents with food-related business addresses within their neighborhoods. Researchers found that residents were 10 percent less likely to be obese if they lived in a neighborhood with a diversity of food options—healthful grocery stores and mini-marts, and full-service and fast food restaurants—compared with residents with no food options in their neighborhoods.

Is Global Warming Unstoppable?

In a provocative new study, U of U Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Tim Garrett argues that carbon dioxide emissions—the major cause of global warming—cannot be stabilized unless the world’s economy collapses or society builds the equivalent of one new nuclear power plant each day. The study—which is based on the concept that physics can be used to characterize the evolution of civilization—indicates that energy conservation or efficiency doesn’t really save energy, but instead spurs economic growth and accelerated energy consumption. “Making civilization more energy efficient simply allows it to grow faster and consume more energy,” Garrett says.
The study also states that throughout history, a simple physical “constant”—an unchanging mathematical value—links global energy use to the world’s accumulated economic productivity, adjusted for inflation. So it isn’t necessary to consider population growth and standard of living in predicting society’s future energy consumption and resulting carbon dioxide emissions. “Stabilization of carbon dioxide emissions at current rates will require approximately 300 gigawatts of new non-carbon-dioxide-emitting power production capacity annually—approximately one new nuclear power plant (or equivalent) per day,” Garrett says. “Physically, there are no other options without killing the economy.”

Fruit Flies with a Cholesterol Problem

How do fruit flies get high cholesterol and become obese? The same way people do: by eating a diet that’s too rich in fats. But more important, according to two new studies led by Carl S. Thummel, professor of human genetics at the U of U School of Medicine, fruit flies use the same molecular mechanisms as humans to help maintain the proper balance of cholesterol and a key form of stored fat that contributes to obesity. The findings mean that as researchers try to learn more about the genetic and biological processes through which people regulate cholesterol and fat metabolism, the humble fruit fly, genus Drosophila, can teach humans much about themselves. “Not a lot is known about these regulatory mechanisms in people,” says Thummel. “But we can learn a lot by studying metabolic control in fruit flies and apply what we learn to humans.” High cholesterol and obesity, which affects an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. population, are linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other maladies that take huge tolls on human health and add billions of dollars to the nation’s medical bills. Understanding the processes that regulate cholesterol and fat in humans could be critical for addressing those health risks in people, Thummel believes.

In Memoriam

Royden G. Derrick ex’38, a former Utah industrialist and an emeritus general authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died at home on December 7. He was 94.

Julian Maack BFA’51, former director of the Department of Medical Illustrations at the University of Utah School of Medicine, died December 25. He was 83.

Don H. Nelson BA’45 MD’47, a former chair of the University of Utah Department of Endocrinology, died at home January 11 after a short illness. He was 84.

S. Grover “Sam” Rich, Jr. BA’42, founder and director of the Institute of International Relations and former professor of political science at the University of Utah, died on Christmas morning 2009. He was 91.

For more on these and other memoria, click here.

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