By Rebecca Walsh, communications specialist, University of Utah College of Nursing

Vice President Joe Biden was already thinking about ways to share “big data” across disciplines, hospital systems and state borders in his quest to defeat cancer.

Biden1But a five-volume gift of his family’s genealogy from leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a crash course in the Utah Population Database and a round table discussion with cancer researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) Friday clinched it.

“The data is trapped in silos,” Biden said. “It’s locked away in individual institutions, limiting prospects. I want to talk to you about how to unlock that data. I want you telling me not only what you’re doing, but what we should be doing, how the federal system can get out of the way.

“What I want to hear is how you made this [database] a central part of your mission,” Biden told the crowd gathered on the sixth floor of the HCI.

The cancer research center and hospital at the University of Utah is just the latest stop on the vice president’s “Cancer Moonshot” listening tour. He has crisscrossed the country – from Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center to the University of California San Francisco – in a bid to figure out what’s working, and what isn’t, in American health care providers’ fight against cancer.

After talking to more than 220 oncologists, primary care doctors and a couple of Nobel laureates, Biden noted, most are striving to gather the same information and duplicating expensive effort. He wants to break down the technological and psychological barriers that keep cancer researchers siloed.

“For too long, researchers and physicians have been trapped in silos – self-imposed or actual silos,” the vice president said. “Oncologists don’t work with virologists. Virologists didn’t work with geneticists.

“They’re all trying for the same holy grail, spending hundreds of millions of dollars,” he added. “Should this be more collaborative?”

Members of the Utah audience offered the database as an example of the best kind of collaboration — between the University of Utah, the LDS church and patients and doctors around the country.

Utah researchers already have used the database to pinpoint treatment for colon cancer patients, Huntsman Cancer Institute CEO and Director Mary Beckerle said. By crunching “big data” from those patients, Beckerle said, institute researchers were able to isolate a region of the colon that is more susceptible to cancer lesions.

Biden 5Biden wondered if creating a national colon cancer database would be useful? Or, could we take the Utah Population Database national and international?

“The tissue alone is not nearly as powerful as having the family history,” Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Vivian Lee said. The database, through collaboration with Intermountain Healthcare, the Utah State Department of Health and the LDS church, already is nearly international, Lee said.

“The question is: How could we build on that?”

John Sweetenham, senior director of clinical affairs at Huntsman Cancer Institute, said simply sharing electronic patient records could open up research possibilities. Those records are blocked off by privacy fears and incompatible record-keeping systems.

“There is a huge wealth of data in our electronic records that we cannot get at,” Sweetenham said. “We could go back years and pull data out of these records that’s already there. That would be a huge resource.”

And HCI patient Emma Houston, a cancer survivor, lamented that she had not been able to share her family history – three aunts, a grandmother and her mother all diagnosed with breast cancer – with her oncologist. Maybe “my 37-year-old daughter would have been diagnosed much earlier.”

Houston urged Biden to take the ego out of cancer treatment. “Can we work together, regardless of who gets the credit, so we can get it done?”

Her oncologist, Huntsman Family Cancer Assessment Clinic Co-director Saundra Buys, said most cancer patients, like Houston, would be willing to share their data if it meant advancing research. “They are extremely anxious to provide their information, their DNA,” Buys said.

Biden agreed. “There is this overwhelming willingness to share the data if they think that it is likely to not only help themselves but help other people,” he said. “It’s amazing the number of patients who are thinking beyond themselves.”

That willingness to help is one of the unique aspects of Utah cancer, former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. told the vice president. The son of institute founder Jon Huntsman Sr. said a spirit of community collaboration, a dedication to rural and “frontier” cancer care, and the institute’s outreach to five surrounding states might be duplicated elsewhere.

“It’s a microcosm example of what could be done throughout the country,” Huntsman said.

In the end, Biden said, we have to take advantage of this “inflection point” in cancer research.

“We’ve never been at this place before. For the first time, we can see what the ultimate solution is going to be,” he said. “But whether we can get there in 10 or 50 years depends on how quickly we can put these pieces together.”

More on the Utah Genome Project here.


By Chanapa Tantibanchachai

Jamie Fidler, a U honors student in marketing, is collecting new and used sleeping bags, tents and U-locks for Volunteers of America’s Homeless Youth Resource Center in Salt Lake City for her Leadership Capstone project.

Fidler was originally inspired by her mother, who has been actively involved with the Homeless Youth Resource Center and made her aware of the need for lightweight gear that homeless youth can easily carry and use for shelter and sleeping, as well as U-locks for bike protection in the case that a youth uses a bike as his/her method of transportation.

Homeless Youth Resource Center1The center expects to serve 800 youth age 15-24 each year.

“At the center, we go directly to the homeless youth and bring them food and clothing, and check on their safety. This is in hopes that once we gain their trust, they’ll eventually come to us,” said DeAnn Zebelean, a volunteer at the Homeless Youth Resource Center.

“At first, it might just be to shower, do laundry or get some food.  But once we build a relationship, we can do more than meet their basic needs.  We can help them complete their education, seek employment, find housing and get the mental health and addiction counseling they need.”

Currently Volunteers of America is in the process of building a new center that will open sometime this fall. Until the completion of this new center, homeless youth are left on the street without a safe haven from the cold nights. Fidler hopes that distributing sleeping bags and tents will help these youth with shelter and warmth in the meantime.

“There have already been over 20 homeless youth deaths in Salt Lake this winter. The goal with this project is to reduce that statistic in the future,” said Fidler.

Fidler welcomes any sleeping bags and tents that are in decent condition and lightweight enough to be carried around at all times. If any U students, staff or faculty would like to make a donation, items may be dropped off at the Sill Center on campus. Donations will be accepted until early April.

If you have questions, contact Jamie Fidler at


Chanapa Tantibanchachai is an associate science writer at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at


A new exhibit at the U’s College of Social Work will bring awareness to thousands of missing and murdered indigenous women.

earringsSing Our Rivers Red” will be on display at the College of Social Work in March, and features nearly 2,000 earrings, each one symbolizing a victim of gender-based violence against an indigenous woman. Letters from families who donated the earrings are included, many telling the stories of lost loved ones.

The exhibition, part of a larger initiative called “Sing Our Rivers Red,” was started by Tanaya Winder and Hannabah Blue.

Winder is director of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Upward Bound program and an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico. Blue works as a public health services project manager and serves on the Board of Directors of Café Cultura, a non-profit organization that promotes creative expression and leadership among indigenous and Latino youth through oral traditions of storytelling, spoken word and poetry.

“Bringing awareness about murdered and missing indigenous women addresses the pervasive ideology that native and indigenous women are not valuable and that they are expendable,” Blue said of the exhibit. “The traveling art exhibit does so much to remind each of us of the women who are lost to this ideology.”

Since 1980, over 1,181 native women and girls in Canada have been reported missing or have been murdered, according to the event organizers.

“There are more than 3 billion women in the world,” said Dena Ned, director of the American Indian Social Work Program at the College of Social Work.  “It’s estimated that one in three women will experience violence in their lifetime. For indigenous and aboriginal women, it’s happening in much greater proportions.”

“Far too often, indigenous women are invisible victims,” Ned said.  “There are few resources to help indigenous women out of violent situations, so they go missing and their families have no idea where they’ve gone.” Ned explains the “Sing Our Rivers Red” exhibit has been on her mind since she initiated a contribution of donated earrings for the exhibit from U students, faculty and staff.  When she saw the completed exhibit, she wanted to bring it to Salt Lake City.

“This is not just an indigenous issue. This is an issue of justice,” said Ned.

The exhibit will be open to the public on Friday, March 25, beginning at noon.  The film “Highway of Tears” will be screened at 4 p.m, which will be followed by a panel discussion.  The exhibit, film screening and panel discussion will all be held in the College of Social Work’s Okazaki Community Meeting Room (155-B).

The event at the College of Social Work is held in conjunction with Women’s Week activities at the U and is co-sponsored by the Utah Education Network and the Urban Indian Center of Salt

The event at the College of Social Work is held in conjunction with Women’s Week activities at the school.

Learn more here.


Dear students,

Ambra Jackson, ASUU Student Body President.

Student government elections are upon us, and I want to call upon all of you to get out there and vote. Historically, voting has been a way for individuals, like yourself, to share their voice. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, we lost touch with what power we have through voting. In 2013, the University of Utah had a voting rate of 17.22 percent. During the past two years, the rate decreased by 7.54 percent, resulting in at rate of only 9.68 percent last year.

Whether you care about events or policy changes on campus, your vote is the first step in giving your input. Look here for more information regarding this year’s candidates. Voting begins Friday, Feb. 26 and closes Thursday, March 3 at 5 p.m. To vote, log on to your CIS page and click the “Vote Here” button in the top left corner. After voting, stop by the ASUU office in Union, Room 234, to pick a free notebook.

Remember, you are choosing your representation. Choose the candidate that will make the changes you want to see in your school. I encourage each and every one of you to let your voice be heard.


Ambra Jackson
ASUU Student Body President


By Jessica Romine Peterson, director of Marketing and Development, University of Utah Alumni Association

To commemorate the founding of the University of Utah on Feb. 28, 1850, the U Alumni Association will celebrate four outstanding alumni and one honorary alumnus at the annual Founders Day banquet, Thursday, March 3, at the Little America Hotel, beginning with a reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.

This year’s Distinguished Alumnus/a Award recipients are Deneece G. Huftalin, president of Salt Lake Community College; Patricia W. Jones, former Utah State Senator and president of Dan Jones & Associates; Fred P. Lewis, a renowned meteorologist and retired brigadier general with the U.S. Air Force, currently a senior vice president with Sutron Corporation; and Harris H. Simmons, chairman, president and CEO of Zions Bancorporation. This year’s Honorary Alumnus is Marion A. Willey, executive director of the Utah Non Profit Housing Corporation.

The Alumni Association will also recognize Chimedyudon “Yudko” Tsogdelger, a U student studying metallurgical engineering, as the 2016 Founders Day Scholarship recipient. The $8,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a student who has overcome difficult life circumstances or challenges and has served the U and the community.

Distinguished Alumnus/a Awards:

Deneece Huftalin

Deneece G. Huftalin, B.S. ’84, Ph.D. ’06

Huftalin was named president of Salt Lake Community College in 2014. She previously worked in higher education at the U, William Rainey Harper College, Northwestern University, Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to her degrees from the U, she holds a master’s degree from UCLA.

Pat Jones

Patricia W. Jones, B.S. ’93

Jones served 14 years in the Utah State Legislature and was the first female leader in both houses. She co-founded and served 34 years as president of Dan Jones & Associates, a well-respected public opinion and market research firm. Today she is CEO of the Women’s Leadership Institute.

Fred Lewis

Fred P. Lewis, Ph.D. ’79
Lewis is a retired brigadier general and renowned meteorologist of 30-plus years with the U.S. Air Force, where he served as director of weather, leading efforts to develop doctrine, policy and standards for the weather career field to support the armed forces and the national intelligence community. He now serves as a senior vice president for Sutron Corporation.

Harris Simmons

Harris H. Simmons,
B.A. ’77
Simmons is chairman, president and CEO of Zions Bancorporation, a $56 billion-asset bank holding company that operates nearly 500 full-service banking offices throughout the western United States. In addition to his bachelor’s degree, he holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.

Honorary Alumnus Award:

Utah Non-Profit Housing Project staff headshot, 223 W. 700 S. in Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 19, 2015.

Marion A. Willey
Willey is now in his 21st year as executive director of Utah Non Profit Housing Corporation and is board president of the Western Region Nonprofit Housing Corporation. His efforts have benefited more than 21,000 households and helped preserve and build more than 4,300 units of affordable housing.

Founders Day Scholar:


Chimedyudon “Yudko” Tsogdelger
Yudko is a Mongolian student who carried a full course load in a demanding major while caring for her father as he fought cancer. Since her father’s passing in June 2015, Yudko has joined an engineering research team to help develop a cancer detection sensor. She loves studying metallurgical engineering, a major that is both academically rigorous and predominantly male.

Learn more about all of this year’s honorees at


By Emerson Andrews, University of Utah Sustainability Office

When you look west from the University of Utah, a thick, brown haze hangs over Salt Lake City. With each breath you take, you breathe in pollution.

Because of this common experience, Warren Beecroft, a student in the Environmental & Sustainability Studies Program, decided to take action and help his community breathe cleaner during unhealthy air days.

scifmaskmirror2During the fall semester, Beecroft worked to secure $11,900 from the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund to purchase 1,000, University of Utah-branded reusable filtration masks from Vogmask. The masks provide two benefits. The first is that the mask will protect you from breathing in toxic air. The second is by wearing the mask, you make a visible statement that the air in Salt Lake City is not safe.

“This program sets out to address an issue that has, in the past, brought about a fair amount of discussion, but limited action,” said Beecroft. “The masks are important to the campus community because they might serve as a catalyst in bringing about more concrete long-term solutions to our state’s pollution problem.”

The program works in tandem with other university efforts regarding air quality, such as the Air Quality Task Force Report, the Program for Air Quality, the Clean Air for U Challenge and the Air Quality Monitoring Center.

This program aims to protect the university community while encouraging active transportation by offering these masks at an 83-percent discount off the retailer’s price during spring semester.

To purchase a mask all you need is $5, your uNID number and the commitment to take alternative forms of transportation. Limit one mask per uNID. The masks will be available for purchase in the Sustainability Office (Business Classroom Building, room 50) on Mondays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and Fridays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Fill out this form to reserve yours and visit the Sustainability Office’s Facebook page for updates on where to find the masks.

“One of the most direct contributions an individual can make in reducing their personal contribution to air pollution is transitioning to active transportation methods such as biking or walking,” said Beecroft.


By Melinda Rogers

A team of students from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law earned impressive marks at the National Moot Court Competition held earlier this month in New York.

Students Sara Parker, Jon Williams and Jeremy Brodis advanced as far as any Utah team has advanced in more than a decade — making it to the final round of eight teams, a level of success Utah as not seen since 2003, according to coaches (and adjunct professors) Troy Booher and Christopher Stout.

The National Moot Court Competition is the oldest, largest and considered by many attorneys and law schools to be the most  prestigious moot court competition in the U.S. It is co-sponsored by the New York City Bar Association and the American College of Trial Lawyers. This year’s competition included 158 teams from 113 law schools across the country. Teams competed in 15 regional competitions in November 2015, with the top two in each region advancing to the national competition held at the House of the New York City Bar Association over Presidents Day weekend.

At the competition, students made arguments addressing the contours of the “personal benefit” requirement for insider trading liability as well as the standard for admissibility of grand jury testimony in subsequent criminal proceedings. Utah’s team authored the eighth best brief in the country, scoring well in a competitive field.

“Advancing to the final round of eight teams is no small accomplishment since there are many teams at the national finals that have been together for more than a year, whereas our teams came together in September to prepare for the competition,” Booher said.

“The entire university community should be proud of how our team did in New York,” added Stout.

Coaches thanked S.J. Quinney of College staff members Karen Fuller and Suzanne Faddis, who coordinate the law school’s student competition programs as well as other faculty, staff, alumni and community members who help students prepare for competitions throughout the year.

“The program does not work without substantial help and donated time from many people,” Booher noted.

To learn more about the law school’s other moot court competitions, click here.


Melinda Rogers is a communications specialist at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at


By Bruce M. Pavlik, director of Conservation, Red Butte Garden

The Conservation Department at Red Butte Garden (RBG) has a 22-plus year history of working to better understand and conserve the rich botanical legacy of the state of Utah. Primarily assisting federal agencies with their legal mandates for natural resource management, RBG Conservation staff completed an average of three to six externally funded projects per year. These projects bring research dollars to the garden, and provide a valuable service to the people of Utah and the nation as a whole. Consequently, the RBG Conservation Department received awards and recognition from its partners, including the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who have also indicated that Red Butte Garden is as highly regarded in terms of work quality and scientific objectivity as any other institution in the state.

Most of what we have done has centered upon the conservation and restoration of rare Utah plants — of which there about 300 taxa — and collection of native plant seeds for long-term storage. For example, in 2015 we completed three rare plant-monitoring projects, collected over 24,000 seeds of 12 rare species and well over 270,000 seeds of 14 common species now stored at the Bend Seed Extractory in Bend, Oregon.

As conservation director, I believe we have an opportunity to capitalize on our history and excellent reputation by diversifying our research mission. This could be accomplished by developing more relationships with the private sector and the state of Utah, and by building bridges to other departments and institutions that strengthen our research “products” and increase our public outreach.

What might that diversified mission look like?

Microsoft Word - Figure 1.docx

Rare plant conservation

Conserving rare plants is one leg of our research mission (see Figure 1). We are a go-to institution in Utah for providing high quality, objective information in sensitive conservation situations. The projects often involve research into germination, cultivation, population biology, reproductive biology and restoration of rare species, capitalizing on existing expertise in horticulture as well.

Developing useful plants

Utah flora is rich, composed of many common species of great potential value. Some are wild relatives of food species, possessing genes for drought tolerance, disease resistance, and improved nutrition that are of interest to crop breeders. Other species are able to colonize areas disturbed by energy exploration, road construction, and other forms of development, thus stabilizing soil and improving habitat quality for animals — including precious pollinators. We have only just begun to realize how many drought-tolerant native species are beautiful enough to cultivate in home gardens yet require very little water.  Identifying and researching how these native plants can be used and made more available to the green and restoration industries is the second leg of our research mission.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Barth, RBG Conservation Dept

Red Butte Garden Conservation efforts.

Improving land management practices

The third leg of our mission will emerge from the other two. As we understand more about native plants and how they can be used to improve soils, natural vegetation, and animal habitats; we will simultaneously inform and improve land management practices. This can lead to more sustainable botanical resources for the public by avoiding ecosystem degradation, and by promoting increased productivity through restoration.

We have developed and maintained excellent partnerships that support Red Butte Garden’s Conservation Program, and a diversified research mission will allow us to engage new partners on new projects in the future. Our seed-collecting expertise can provide locally sourced native seed mixes to companies looking to reseed damaged areas after project completion, thus ensuring that the right seed is put in the right place to maximize success and minimize costs of native plant restoration. Furthermore, extractive industries, a large part of the Utah economy, are coming under increasing scrutiny in terms of land management, rehabilitation practices, and available plant materials. Our recent project at Blackrock Gypsum (RBG Winter 2015 Newsletter) is another example of how we can objectively partner with these industries while ensuring that biological resources on public lands are replenished after use.

Finally, this expanded mission can build better ties to like-minded research institutions. Botanical gardens are not often seen as research centers, even though they have the expertise, materials, and land that can support and be supported by the activities of other departments and institutions (Hardwick et al. 2011). RBG has the unique opportunity to partner with new University of Utah faculty to be hired under the “Biodiversity Cluster” to achieve common conservation goals. Several projects are already underway between RBG Conservation, the U’s Rio Mesa Center and the Natural History Museum of Utah in pollination biology and ethnobotany, with potential for new exhibits and other forms of public and academic outreach. These sophisticated research partnerships are important to establish and nurture because they distinguish Red Butte Garden as an important piece of a larger network dedicated to conserving the rich and diverse botanical legacy of the West.

For more information on current and recent projects, please visit us.

Literature Cited

Hardwick, K.A., Fiedler. P., Lee, L.C., Pavlik, B., Hobbs, R.J., Aronson, J., Bidartondo,M.,Black, B., Coates, D., Daws. M.I., Dixon, K., Elliott, S.,Ewing, K., Gann. G., Gibbons, D.,Gratzfeld, J., Hamilton, M., Hardman, D., Harris, J., Holmes,P.M, Jones, M., Mabberley, D., Mackenzie, A., Magdalena, C., Marrs, R., Milliken, W., Mills,A., Nic Lughadha, E., Ramsay, M., Smith, P., Taylor, N., Trivedi, C., Way, M., Whaley, O. and S.D. Hopper (2011). “The Role of Botanic Gardens in the Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration.” Conservation Biology 25, 265-275.



By Tyler Kunz, marketing and communications coordinator, University of Utah College of Fine Arts

The University of Utah Department of Film & Media Arts will host the directors of Disney’s Zootopia,” Byron Howard and Rich Moore, for a behind-the-scenes presentation in the Film and Media Arts Auditorium on Wednesday, March 2 at 2 p.m. The presentation will be moderated by Department of Film & Media Arts chair Kevin Hanson, and is free and open to the public, but seating is limited (doors open at 1:30 p.m.).

ZOOTOPIA – Pictured: Judy Hopps. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

ZOOTOPIA – Pictured: Judy Hopps. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The film takes us to the modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia, a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything.

Byron P. Howard is an animator, film director, producer, screenwriter, story artist and occasional voice actor at Walt Disney Animation Studios. He is best known as the lead character animator on “Lilo & Stitch and “Brother Bear and co-director of “Tangled and “Bolt.”

Rich Moore is an animation director and a business partner in Rough Draft Studios, best known for his work on “The Simpsons,” “Futurama and “Wreck-It Ralph.”

The Department of Film & Media Arts began its own official Animation Emphasis last year, which focuses on the integration of critical, historical, theoretical, and practical components of animation studies and production.

Early arrival is encouraged, as high attendance is anticipated.


BYRON HOWARD directed Disney’s 2010 world-wide hit feature “Tangled” with Nathan Greno. The film featured the Oscar®-nominated and Grammy®-winning song “I See the Light.” Howard and Greno teamed up again in 2012 for the short film “Tangled Ever After.”

As a child, Howard’s favorite Disney animated films included “Robin Hood,” “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty.” He was also inspired by artists like Chuck Jones, Ronald Searle and Bill Watterson, and he would fill reams of computer paper with characters of his own creation. His love of art and animation continued through high school and college.

Howard earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at The Evergreen State College in Washington, where he pursued his interest in filmmaking by studying cinematography, art and literature. By 1991, he was part of the Disney family, hosting the animation tour at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando. In 1994, Howard officially joined the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Florida as an inbetweener and clean-up artist on “Pocahontas.”  He quickly went on to become an animator on “Mulan” and a supervising animator on “Lilo & Stitch” and “Brother Bear,” as well as doing character design on both those films.

Howard later relocated to California where he continued his study of cinematography and drawing as a story artist and character designer at Walt Disney Animation Studios before becoming a director in 2006. Walt Disney Animation Studio’s Oscar®-nominated 2008 release “Bolt” marked Howard’s debut as a feature film director (alongside Chris Williams). Howard also designed some of the characters in that film.

Howard loves the collaborative medium of animation because it combines art, cinematography, writing, design, acting and music with a family of supportive and talented artists and crew. Team members inspire each other to achieve something greater than they could alone.

In addition to his lifelong passion for animation and a career spanning the last 20+ years, Howard’s interests include art, music, theater, travel and a deep love for animals (he has two lovable, quirky cats). He resides in a midcentury atomic-ranch home on a quiet hill in sunny Los Angeles, Calif.


RICH MOORE (director) directed Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 2012 Oscar®-nominated feature “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Moore directed numerous episodes of “The Simpsons” and was a sequence director on “The Simpsons Movie.” A graduate of California Institute of the Arts’ (CalArts) renowned Character Animation Program, Moore was a designer and writer for Ralph Bakshi’s “Mighty Mouse – The New Adventures.” He became one of the original three directors on “The Simpsons,” directing numerous episodes over the series’ first five seasons, including the Emmy® Award-winning “Homer vs. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment.” He later served as supervising director for Gracie Films’ “The Critic.”

Moore oversaw the creative development and production of Matt Groening’s “Futurama,” and was awarded the 1999 Reuben Award (from the National Cartoonists Society) for Best in Television Animation, the 2001 Hugo Gold Plaque (from the World Science Fiction Society) for Special Achievement in Animation, and the 2002 Emmy® for Outstanding Animated Program (the “Roswell That Ends Well” episode).

Credits include director or supervising director on the Warner Bros.’ theatrical short “Duck Dodgers — Attack the Drones,” the CBS prime-time pilot “Vinyl Café,” Comedy Central’s “Drawn Together,” Mad TV’s “Spy vs. Spy” and Fox’s “Sit Down, Shut Up.”


SoD 2 800x800The University of Utah College of Fine Arts is pleased to announce the formation of the School of Dance, beginning July 1, 2016.  Housed under this new administrative structure, the individual disciplines of ballet and modern dance will continue their long, esteemed legacies, with expanded opportunities and collaborations possible. This school will be the first of its kind in the Intermountain Region, and one of only a handful of others across the nation.

“Our two dance disciplines have a long tradition of excellence and prominence here in the state and across the world,” said College of Fine Arts Dean Raymond Tymas-Jones. “It’s because we have been innovators in those fields, recognizing and adapting to change when needed. The world of dance has evolved dramatically since the departments’ founding 60 years ago, and while the curricula for each discipline have been constantly reshaped and updated to meet the changing demands of the field, this structural shift is necessary for the next iteration of our legacy of success.

While the most significant change will be seen on the administrative side and will preserve the individuality of each discipline, the new structure will facilitate greater interdisciplinary education and research opportunities across multiple genres of dance. The School of Dance will continue to award degrees, certificates and minors in the specialized disciplines of ballet and modern dance.

“Each of our current departments maintains an excellent international reputation in the world of dance. We are among the oldest programs in the nation offering BFA degrees in ballet and modern dance,” said Brent Schneider Acting Chair of the Department of Ballet. “We are at an exciting time now when the strengths of each discipline will remain intact and opportunities for new hybrid course offerings can become a reality.”

SoD 1200x400This change comes after several years of thoughtful discussion and with unanimous support of the faculties of the two disciplines (one abstention from a faculty member on sabbatical). The change was approved by the University of Utah’s Board of Trustees on Nov. 10, 2015, and by the Board of Regents on Jan. 22, 2016. It will be the second School in the College of Fine Arts joining the School of Music, alongside the departments of Art & Art History, Film & Media Arts and Theatre.

“I am excited by the increased possibilities, collaboration and interaction between the two disciplines, ballet and modern, that a School of Dance will provide where we all benefit by the sharing of our impressive strengths,” said Stephen Koester, the current chair of the Department of Modern Dance. “While honoring traditions and the legacies of each discipline, we will discover new dynamic synergies and opportunities between the disciplines, learning from each other, as we forge a new future for dance.”

A national and international search is now underway for the School of Dance’s founding director. More information on that position can be found here.