News of the University

Tightening Our Belts

The 2010 legislative session proved difficult for higher education—but it could’ve been worse.

Like most legislative sessions, the 2010 assembly offered a few surprises. Fortunately, there were no bombshells for higher education in general or the University of Utah in particular. But like the rest of the nation, the State of Utah is tightening its financial belt, and that will have some measurable effect on the U.

The session began with the likelihood that higher education would be cut an additional 5 percent on top of the massive 17 percent cuts suffered in 2009-10. There was some hope of a one-time backfill to lesson the impact of the ongoing and additional cut. Near the end of the session, the additional 5 percent cut was abandoned and the hoped-for one-time backfill was put back into the budget to reduce the base-budget cut.

As a result, the 17 percent cut imposed by the Legislature in 2009-10 was reduced to approximately 13 percent for 2010-11. At the U, the 17 percent cut had been administered as a 19 percent cut for those units and functions that could suffer the blow. Those departments and programs will benefit from the new add-back. The combined effect of the legislative add-back and increased tuition revenue means that the U will be able to replace much of the one-time federal stimulus funding that helped the institution weather the 2009-10 budget cut. Put another way, for most of campus, 2010-11 budgets will differ only slightly from the previous year’s.

The Legislature cut the Utah Science, Technology, and Research Initiative (USTAR) funding, both one-time and base. For the University, the one-time cut will be about $1.2 million, and the base reduction about $300,000.
The University had requested support for repairs to its aging infrastructure, but the Legislature declined to provide the funds. The U did get approval to combine capital improvements funds beyond the $2.5 million cap to address high temperature water breaks and replacement requirements. No funding was provided for increases in compensation for U of U employees.

The State Board of Regents approved a 1.5 percent increase in tier one (statewide) tuition for all Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) institutions. Combined with a requested 8 percent tier-two increase (made by individual institutions) and fee increases averaging 7.3 percent, the cost of attending the University of Utah will rise by about 9.2 percent overall in 2010-11. Revenue from the tier-one increase will be used primarily to cover increases in the State retirement plan. Revenue from the tier-two increase will be used to address a variety of needs created by the budget reductions in academic, service, and administrative areas.

An Artist of Two Cultures

The UMFA’s summer exhibit of Pablo O’Higgins’ work highlights the career of an inspirational artist.

By Susan Vogel

Pablo E. O’Higgins (1904-1983), La Carreta (The Wagon), 1966, lithograph, from the permanent collection of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, purchased with funds from the Phyllis C. Wattis Endowment for Modern and Contemporary Art.

The exhibit Pablo O’Higgins: Works on Paper, on display at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts through September 19, is one of four exhibitions designed to celebrate Mexican art and culture at the museum during the summer of 2010.

Pablo O’Higgins, born Paul Higgins in Salt Lake City in 1904, came from a Presbyterian family of Mayflower English and Scots-Irish ancestry. During his childhood, his family spent several years in San Diego County, where he developed a love of Mexican culture. At Salt Lake City’s East High School, Higgins studied under LeConte Stewart and James T. Harwood, both of whom eventually headed the U’s Department of Art. After graduation, he briefly attended the San Diego Academy of Arts, where he learned about Diego Rivera’s murals in Mexico City and wrote him a letter. To his surprise, Rivera invited him to visit. Between 1924 and 1929, Higgins worked as an assistant on three of Rivera’s most important murals.

Under his mentor’s political tutelage, Higgins joined the Mexican Communist Party during a harsh period when it was attempting to eliminate its “middle class element.” It was in this context that Paul Higgins transformed himself into “Pablo O’Higgins,” claiming that he identified more with the working class and distancing himself from his “bourgeois” upbringing. (His father, an assistant attorney general, had once argued before the Utah Supreme Court in favor of the execution of miner Joe Hill, now an internationally known martyr of the labor movement.)

In Mexico, where O’Higgins lived until his death in 1983 (though he maintained his U.S. citizenship until 1961), he is as famous for his graphic art as for the dozen murals he painted in his adopted country. In the U.S., where he completed two murals and taught printmaking, O’Higgins served as an inspiration for Chicano artists who identified with his depictions of social struggles for equality. The Utah Museum of Fine Arts acquired two lithographs by O’Higgins in 2000.

Associate Professor of Art Kim V. Martinez says, “Pablo O’Higgins made a distinct imprint on the Chicano movement by creating militant labor and progressive civil rights public murals during the labor strife of the 1930s, a tradition of social justice that artists continue to draw from today.”

Visit UMFA’s website for more information on the O’Higgins exhibit.


Congratulations to the University of Utah’s Cody Scott Rogers, one of 54 students selected as a 2010 Truman Scholar from more than 3,500 applicants representing 283 U.S. colleges and universities. The prestigious scholarship provides each recipient $30,000 for graduate study as well as priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special fellowship opportunities within the federal government. Rogers is working toward a degree in political science, with minors in ethnic studies and campaign management, and expects to graduate in May 2011.

Kudos to Vice President of Student Affairs Barbara H. Snyder for receiving the Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Service as a Dean from NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. The award is presented to a lead student affairs officer who has demonstrated sustained professional service in student affairs work, high-level competency in administrative skills, innovative response in meeting students’ varied and emerging needs, effectiveness in developing junior staff members, and leadership in community and university affairs. Snyder has served as VP for student affairs and adjunct associate professor of educational leadership and policy at the U since 1999.

KUED’s Wallace Stegner documentary has been honored for excellence in biography with a NETA Award from the National Educational Television Association. The annual NETA Awards recognize member-produced excellence in public broadcasting. KUED, the University of Utah’s public television network, produced the documentary about the acclaimed writer, conservationist, and teacher, a U of U grad (BA’30) who became one of America’s greatest writers.

In Memoriam

John J. Flynn, J.D., 74, a U of U professor of law for more than four decades

Kevin J. Gully BS’75, Ph.D., ABPP, 58, a former U of U professor of forensic psychology

Walter J. Hawkins BS’73, 62, former Ute basketball player and coach

Paul Hodson BA’36, Ph.D., 100, former U of U business vice president and vice president of special projects and international relations

William R. Slager PhD’51, 85, former chair of the U’s Department of English, and founder and director of its Linguistics Program

For more on these and other memoria, click here.

What To Do at the U during the Summer

Summer’s a long time to sit idle! No need to, because the U offers summer camps and classes for youth in just about every arena imaginable, from art to architecture, and from music to math, for children of nearly all ages. Check out some of the many options here.

Research Roundup

Glue, Fly, Glue

Caddisfly larva. Photo by Fred Hayes

Like silkworm moths, butterflies, and spiders, caddisfly larvae spin silk, but they do so underwater instead of on dry land. Now, University of Utah researchers have discovered why the fly’s silk is sticky when wet and how that may make it valuable as an adhesive tape during surgery. “Silk from caddisfly larvae—known to western fly fishermen as ‘rock rollers’—may be useful someday as a medical bioadhesive for sticking to wet tissues,” says Russell Stewart, an associate professor of bioengineering and principal author of a new study of the fly silk’s chemical and structural properties. “I picture it as sort of a wet Band-Aid, maybe used internally in surgery—like using a piece of tape to close an incision as opposed to sutures,” he adds. There are thousands of caddisfly species worldwide in an order of insects named Trichoptera that are related to Lepidoptera, the order that includes moths and butterflies that spin dry silk.

We Aren’t as Ethical as We Think

Ever since Enron, it seems that more academics have been trying to understand and rectify unethical behavior. Research from the University of Utah might help organizations better understand thinking patterns in the workplace. “Companies typically don’t do bad things because they have bad people,” says Kristina A. Diekmann, professor of management and one of the four authors of a new study on ethics that examines the psychological processes of individuals and how they deceive themselves into thinking they are ethical people. “When people imagine or predict what they would do in certain situations,” she explains, “they think about what they should do. However, when it comes to actually making decisions, people tend to focus on what they want to do.” For example, individuals know they should behave ethically when negotiating with a client, but during the actual negotiation with that client, their desire to close a deal may cause them to make misleading statements and later justify doing so to others. “They are not conditioned to think of the ethical consequences at the time of the decision,” Diekmann says. “What is particularly problematic is that when people deceive themselves into thinking they are ethical but don’t act accordingly, it encourages the continuation of negative behavior.”

The Cost of Being on Your Toes

A still of a study participant walking. Photo by David Carrier

Humans, other great apes, and bears are among the few animals that step first on the heel when walking, then roll onto the ball of the foot and toes. Now, a University of Utah study shows the advantage: Compared with heel-first walking, it takes 53 percent more energy to walk on the balls of your feet, and 83 percent more energy to walk on your toes. “Our heel touches the ground at the start of each step. In most mammals, the heel remains elevated during walking and running,” says Professor of Biology David Carrier, senior author of the new study. “Our study shows that the heel-down posture increases the economy of walking but not the economy of running,” says Carrier. “You consume more energy when you walk on the balls of your feet or your toes than when you walk heels first.” Economical walking would have helped early human hunter-gatherers find food, he says. Yet because other great apes also are heel-first walkers, it means the trait evolved before our common ancestors descended from the trees, he adds. Carrier speculates that a heel-first foot posture “may be advantageous during fighting by increasing stability and applying more torque to the ground to twist, push, and shove. And it increases agility in rapid turning maneuvers during aggressive encounters.”

Campus Notebook

Honorary Degrees Awarded During May Commencement

Sue D. Christensen

E. Gordon Gee

Jon Huntsman, Jr.

Shane Robison

Dean Singleton

Honorary doctoral degrees were awarded to five recipients during the 2010 Commencement ceremonies in the Jon M. Huntsman Center on May 7. Conferred on individuals who merit special recognition for their service to the community or outstanding achievement, the honorary degrees were presented to Sue D. Christensen BS’56 (a Salt Lake City entrepreneur and philanthropist) for Doctor of Humane Letters, E. Gordon Gee BA’68 (president of The Ohio State University and formerly at the helm of several other institutions) for Doctor of Laws, Shane Robison BS’80 MS’83 (executive vice president and chief strategy and technology officer for Hewlett Packard) for Doctor of Engineering, W. Dean Singleton (chairman and CEO of MediaNews Group) for Doctor of Business, and to this year’s commencement speaker, Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. ex’85 (former Utah governor and currently U.S. Ambassador to China) for Doctor of Humane Letters.

$10 Million Gift Will Establish New Home for the College of Science

Gary and Ann Crocker

Gary L. (ex’69) and Ann S. Crocker (BS’74) have donated $10 million to help renovate the historic George Thomas Building after the current occupant, the Utah Museum of Natural History, moves to its new location near Red Butte Canyon in 2011. The remodel of the facility on Presidents Circle will transform the building into a state-of-the-art center for scientific research and teaching. It will house the Center for Cell and Genome Science, modern classrooms and laboratories for innovative and interdisciplinary science and math education, and the College of Science headquarters. The Crocker donation is the lead gift for a $75 million project that is expected to begin construction in 2012. The new facility, to be named The Gary L. and Ann S. Crocker Science Center at the George Thomas Building, is scheduled for completion in 2014. The Thomas Building was dedicated in 1935 as the University’s library and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Eccles Foundation Contribution to Help Top Freshmen Enter Grad School

A new program at the University of Utah guarantees that well-qualified students entering as freshmen will be admitted to one of the University’s elite graduate programs upon completion of their undergraduate degree. The new program will begin Fall Semester 2010 and will be administered by the University’s Honors College. The innovative program was announced in conjunction with a $1.2 million contribution from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, which will fund the Eccles Distinguished Scholar Awards as part of the new program. Top students from throughout Utah will be eligible to apply for the Eccles Distinguished Scholar Awards, which will provide the most generous undergraduate scholarship support available at the U, including full tuition, housing, and fees. Eccles Distinguished Scholars will also receive mentoring, advising, and academic opportunities through the Honors College. While early assurance programs at other universities require students to declare their graduate selection upon admission, the U’s program is unique for its “open-track system,” which allows students to take courses for two years before declaring their graduate program intentions.

The Digit


The quantity by which external research
funding at the U has increased since 2004,
to $377 million in 2009.

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