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February 2021 | Community Forum Recap

Recap of the February 2021 Community Forum

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Agenda & Recording of the meeting

The full recording of February’s meeting can be viewed below.

The agenda was as follows:

  • Introduction of new Board of Trustees Representative | University of Utah Alumni Association President Kim Brunisholz
  • Update on U Presidential Search Committee and Process | Utah System of Higher Education Commissioner Dave R. Woolstenhulme
  • Spring Semester Updates | Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Reed and Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald
  • Research Park Master Plan Update | Real Estate Administration Executive Director Jonathon Bates
  • Racist & Bias Incident Response Team (RBIRT) | Communications Director Chris Nelson

Watch the full meeting below.

Introduction of new Board of Trustees Representative | University of Utah Alumni Association President Kim Brunisholz

Kim Brunisholz now serves as the president of the U Alumni Board of Governors and is also a member of the University of University of Utah Board of Trustees. Brunisholz has three degrees from the U—B.S. '05, M.S. '11, including a doctorate in public health Ph.D. '15. While at the U, she was a student-athlete, competing for four years on the U gymnastics team. She was also president of the Student Athletic Advisory Council.

Brunisholz serves as a senior scientist and is a federally funded researcher with the Intermountain Healthcare Delivery Institute. She has worked at Intermountain Healthcare since 2006. Brunisholz has co-authored or contributed to numerous scholarly papers related to health care delivery and implementation science and has lectured in the Division of Epidemiology.

U Presidential Search Committee and Process | Utah System of Higher Education Commissioner Dave R. Woolstenhulme

Utah System of Higher Education Commissioner Dave Woolsenhulme provided attendees with the following information. The Utah Board of Higher Education oversees the selection of new presidents for public universities and colleges throughout the state and has formed a search committee to find President Ruth V. Watkins' replacement.

President Watkins announced her departure Jan. 12, 2021, and has accepted a position as president of Strada Impact, where she will drive Strada Education Network’s national research, philanthropy, policy and thought leadership to improve students’ access to college, degree completion and career connections. Watkins will step down from her position in April 2021.

The Utah Board of Higher Education has selected Senior Vice President for U Health Michael L. Good to serve as interim president. This selection continues the precedent of having the CEO/senior vice president of University of Utah Health Sciences serve in the interim role. Health Sciences has a deep bench of capable administrators who will manage the university’s hospital, clinics and School of Medicine while Dr. Good takes on oversight of the entire campus.

A search committee has been formed and hosted three public meetings to seek input on qualifications of ideal candidates to carry forward the U’s momentum. The public can submit feedback, ideal qualifications, nominations, applications or inquiries to

Once the search committee identifies three to five leading candidates, it will forward the names of those individuals to the Utah Board of Higher Education and the executive committee of the U’s Board of Trustees for additional evaluation. The Utah Board of Higher Education will then select the new president.

Spring Semester Updates | Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald

The university is now offering asymptomatic COVID-19 testing as a way to identify the virus more quickly among our campus community. Asymptomatic testing is free for students, faculty and staff and conducted at the following locations and times.

Officers Club hours
Monday-Thursday | 8-11:30 a.m. & 12-4:40 p.m.
Friday | 8-11:30 a.m. & 12-2 p.m.

Union Saltair Room hours
Monday-Thursday | 12-4:30 p.m. & 5-7 p.m.
Friday | 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Students living in Housing & Residential Education facilities are required to be tested each week during the semester. Testing began the week of Jan. 18-22. Learn more about the U’s testing efforts here.

Departments that report to Vice President McDonald in Student Affairs have found creative ways to deliver essential support resources to students. Many offerings like academic advising and mental health services have transitioned to virtual formats to better serve those in need.

Housing & Residential Education has de-densified its on-campus resident facilities. HRE has also set aside rooms specifically for those needing to quarantine and self-isolate. Students needing these rooms have a single-occupancy bed and their own restroom and meals are safely delivered to them throughout the stay.

Spring Semester Updates | Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Reed

Campus leadership looked closely at all courses taught to determine which classes could be moved to an online format and which needed to remain in-person. Experiential education courses—those that need to be learned by doing—remain the priority of courses that need to be taught in-person.

Roughly 20% of the spring 2021 courses are being fully taught in-person. An additional 40-50% of classes involve some in-person components. The remainder of classes are fully remote. It’s anticipated that fall 2021 semester will have more in-person offerings but is dependent upon COVID-19 rates, the availability of vaccinations at the time and the number of those having received the vaccination.

As it relates to vaccination prioritization, the University of Utah is bound by the State Public Health policy and priorities. The campus and the U Health system will strictly follow those guidelines as they are released. U faculty members are not included in the teacher vaccination pipeline with a few exceptions as they relate to an individual’s underlying health conditions.

Research Park Master Plan Update | Real Estate Administration Executive Director Jonathon Bates

The university is not proceeding with any additional work on the Research Park Strategic Vision at this time.

Internal conversations with senior university leadership have occurred and continue to be scheduled to review community input and feedback, incorporate those concerns into updated plans and to create a new timeline. Once those internal meeting are complete the community will be included to review the updated vision and provide additional feedback.

Also, a “pivot” from a 50-year plan to a 10 year plan is being evaluated. Instead looking at the development potential that addresses infrastructure within Research Park to address transit and  public transportation mobility. Members from Salt Lake City Transportation, UDOT and UTA continue to be engaged in the development of these plans to make transit more accessible now and looking into the future.

One improvement to existing plans that came as a result from public feedback has been an 18% increase of “programable open space” within the park from what is visible today. Programable open space is functional open space where events can be held like plazas, open grass areas, picnic tables, class meeting spaces, trails and trail networks to identify a few.

Three Mobility Hub locations have been identified as possibilities within Research Park, one larger option and two smaller that are on the existing campus circuit. The larger hub may be feasible at the intersection of Wakara and Arapeen. One of the smaller locations was identified near the Chipeta and Wakara intersection in the area of the historic Fort Douglas cemetery, the other near Chipeta and Arapeen intersection.

Campus Construction Updates | Chief Facilities Officer Robin Burr

projects in the programming & design phase

Medical Education & Discovery 

A 250,000 square foot replacement of the medical school component of the old School of Medicine building (650,000 sq. ft.) and will incorporate innovation discovery and global health programs. Construction will begin early in 2022 and finish and open in time for the beginning of fall 2023. It will be built over 1900 East, which will relocate the service access to the hospital. It will be a bit of a gateway as visitors come up the hill to the campus.

Impact & Prosperity Epicenter 

This David Eccles School of Business housing facility, similar to Lassonde Studios on campus, is planned to 575 beds for Business majors. The Center for Global Health & Prosperity and the Sorenson Impact Center will both be housed within. Current plans place the building in the center of campus between Lassonde Studios and the McCarthy Family Track & Field. It’s estimated to break ground the end of 2021 and completed in time for the fall 2023 semester.

West Village Family Student Housing Project

The project has been placed on hold while approval from the 20221 Legislature was being sought. Bonding for the project has been approved. The new higher density housing will replace the existing 1960s era cinder block units, starting with the 400 and 500 courts. Demolition and construction of the remaining buildings and infrastructure upgrades will continue over the next eight years to make way for updated and denser living quarters for families.

Architects, general contractors and building designs have not been finalized at this time. The renderings seen in the presentation are visual examples only. Community member Josh Stewart has submitted feedback which will be incorporated in the RFP when looking for design and construction firms.

projects in construction

New garage & North Medical Drive improvements

Work has begun along North Medical Drive near the Mario Capecchi intersection. The road is being widened on the north and south to prepare for the tunnel that will be dug as the main access point for the new 1,400 car garage currently under construction. It will open in the fall of 2022.

The addition of this parking structure will allow structural improvements to be made to the hospital visitor parking without losing those 950 patient parking spaces. Additionally, this will allow the West Medical Garage to be taken down and not replaced. The West Garage is located to the east of the Moran Eye Center and is primarily faculty and staff parking.

Mobility hubs

The university is also looking at a myriad of ways to reduce traffic and congestion to campus. The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated that not everyone needs to come to campus on a daily basis and what alternatives are possible once things return to “normal.”

Work was recently completed on a mobility hub study with partners: Salt Lake City, the VA Hospital, UTA and UDOT. The study evaluated campus sites for mobility hubs that will make getting to and from campus easier for all users.

These partners have identified three main campus sites as possible hub locations. Salt Lake City would like one site to be near 200 South and University Street. The second, near the South Campus Drive TRAX station. The last would serve the medical campus near the TRAX stop on Mario Capecchi.

Huntsman Hospital Phase V: Kathryn F. Kirk Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Women's Cancers

This is a 222,000 square foot building on eight floors. It will have 50 inpatient bone marrow transplant beds, offices, imaging, decompression for many of the clinics that are in the hospital just to the east of it. It will open in the fall of 2022.

Health care, Educators, Leaders and Innovators Complex (HELIX)

This proposed five-story building will sit to the south of the Primary Children's Outpatient Building and north of the TRAX station. It is part of the strategy to get out of the old School of Medicine building. Construction will begin in 2021 and should be completed and opened by March 2023. A sky bridge will be constructed that will connect this facility to the rest of the U Health campus.

Health Sciences is growing between 3%-8% a year, year over year, looking at faculty and staff data. It varies by area and year. Approximately 70% of that growth is trying to be located in off-campus locations. The expanding health system creates the need for more spaces to put Health Sciences faculty and staff.

Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium

Replaces the Clark building by filling in the bowl, adding a variety of seating types, suites, and clubs, and replacing and upgrading the student-athletes' locker rooms and training facilities, as well as many of the media areas. Construction is underway and will be ready for the start of fall season 2021 with an increase of nearly 5,000 seats. The vendor for the restaurant has been selected but has not yet been announced.

2002 Olympic Legacy Cauldron

The 2002 Olympic Legacy Cauldron has been refurbished and returned to Rice-Eccles Stadium. The cauldron now sits on a 32 ft. tall pedestal in what will be a new Olympic plaza outside the stadium fence. The updated glass panes will be installed on-site over coming weeks/months. The cauldron is now wired with LED lights which will make it more sustainable when lit for special occasions.

Public Safety Building

A 25,000-square-foot building to replace the current facility on South Campus Drive, which is quite aged. Currently in the design phase, but hoping to begin construction this November and complete the project by the end of 2021. It will be located in the north-east portion of the Guardsman Way parking lot, read more here. The Office of the Chief Safety Officer has also release its 5-year strategic plan for university safety which can be found here.

Campus Sustainability 

Geothermal power provides 50% of the U’s energy needs. An additional 20% of energy needs will be supplied by solar by 2021 for a total of 70% of power being supplied by renewable resources. The University of Utah is a national leader in these efforts. The U is also conducting vital research called FORGE that's focused on enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technologies. The project is testing the tools and technologies to develop a geothermal resource where none exists naturally. If successful, these methods can be applied virtually anywhere in the world, providing a clean, inexhaustible energy source. Read more here.

More campus buildings than ever are energy efficient and major funds have been dedicated to replacing outdated heating and cooling equipment to ensure energies are not being wasted. Read about the University of Utah's STARS Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

The University of Utah is partnering with Salt Lake City on future Bonneville Shoreline Trails improvements. As SLC controls the greater trail network they have requested to manage overall maintenance and improvements for these facilities. Details are available on their website for which trails will be removed and which will be preserved or enhanced. Learn more at the Foothills Trail System Master Plan.

Racist & Bias Incident Response Team (RBIRT) | Communications Director Chris Nelson

The U is increasing its commitment to report and address all racist and bias incidents. A new website has been created and updated regularly to address these incidents head-on and can be found here. Members of the community visiting campus are encouraged to make reports as well.