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September 2020 | Community Forum Recap



Recap of the September 21, 2020, Community Forum

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Agenda & Recording of the meeting

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

The agenda was as follows:

  • Return to Campus Plan | University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins
  • For Utah Scholarship | Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Reed
  • COVID-19 Updates | Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Mike Good
  • Vice Presidential Debate | Vice President for Government Relations Jason Perry
  • Campus Safety | Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch
  • Athletics Update | Athletics Director Mark Harlan
  • Campus Construction Updates | Chief Facilities Officer Robin Burr
  • Community concerns about Research Park | Community member Steve Jones
  • Research Park Strategy Refresh | Real Estate Administration Executive Director Jonathon Bates and Mark Asnis with Perkins & Will

Watch the full meeting below.

Return to Campus Plan | University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins

The U has been intentionally moving slower than the city and the county in reducing the risk status in an abundance of precaution for the health, safety, and well-being of the campus. The return plan’s implementation has been successful thus far. All updates and information regarding COVID-19 can be found on coronavirus.utah.edu. Key points of the plan:

  • Face coverings required inside buildings
  • People remaining 6 feet apart
  • Hybrid approach to classes. Roughly 20 % of classes are in person.
  • Reduction of students living on campus to de-densify the residence halls. Capacity to house 4,600 students, but only housing 3,300.
  • Other measures: Contact tracing, wastewater monitoring, and asymptomatic randomized testing.
  • Fall sports are canceled in line with the Pac-12 guidelines.
  • The Natural History Museum of Utah and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts have reopened to the public with safety precautions in place.

As a research university, we already have 130 groups on campus hard at work to help us better understand and mitigate COVID-19. Examples of the breadth of research being done:

  • Civil engineer leading out on wastewater sampling to monitor potential spikes.
  • Social scientists working on the effect the pandemic has had on domestic violence and mental health.
  • Medical researchers working on treatments.

The U has continued to have a positive impact on Utah’s economy. The $603 million of research funding for 2020 has had a direct impact on Utah's economy, jobs, employment, innovation, and discoveries that are changing the world.

In an effort to help mitigate the workforce needs during this time, the U has developed new short-term education programs to re-skill and up-skill people. Many of them are certificates, credentialing programs that help put Utahns back to work.

The U has learned a lot about how it functions with remote office work, which will help with the ongoing challenges of this pandemic.

The community’s partnership is appreciated, and its care and concern about the university and the health of our community around the university is much valued.

For Utah Scholarship | Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Reed

One of the things that have created challenges for higher education institutions around the country has been just the uncertainty about which students and how many would come back to campuses across the U.S. The U’s enrollment is large and stable, with a diverse student body. About one-third of the student base is from traditionally underrepresented groups and the U is working hard to continue to grow that base. Two-thirds of the student base is from Utah.

The For Utah Scholarship covers all tuition fees for the first-generation Pell-eligible students for four years, who have a 3.2 high school GPA, who are admitted and admissible to the U. The first two years are covered by state scholarship, with the remaining two years being covered by generous donors to the U.

The scholarship was offered to 1000 admitted students this fall, with almost 800 of those students accepting the offer.

This scholarship helps students to realize their dreams and supports the hopes of their parents for the power of education to transform lives.

COVID-19 Updates | Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Mike Good

U of U Health is amplifying and expanding the asymptomatic randomized testing of students, but so far there haven’t been large numbers of positive coronavirus cases within the campus community. The best resource to monitor the campus’ numbers and trends is coronavirus.utah.edu. The U is tracking lower in predicted numbers with only 130 members of a community of roughly 60,000 testing positive (as of Sept. 21, 2020). University of Utah Hospital admissions are stable. A brief update to campus is given by Dr. Good each Wednesday and can be found here.

U of U Health cannot overemphasize enough the four basic principles:

  1. Wear a face covering
  2. Wash your hands
  3. Keep physical distancing
  4. Stay home and away from others if you are sick

Vice Presidential Debate | Vice President for Government Relations Jason Perry

A year and a half ago the U in partnership with the Utah Debate Commission, the Governor’s Office, and the state legislature submitted a bid to host a presidential debate. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) selected us for the vice presidential debate instead.

The CPD controls everything about the logistics of the debate, so they also controlled the tickets. Due to the obvious health restrictions caused by the pandemic, the U was uncertain as to how many tickets was to be allotted. Note that any tickets the U received were given to students. This event was student-centered. Media members were also reduced from roughly 900 to about 250, hosted in a tent away from the debate hall. Only those who had tested negative for COVID-19 were permitted inside the debate hall.

Check out debate2020.utah.edu for more information.

Two main areas of the roadways will be affected by the debate between Sept. 28-Oct.8:

  1. University Street between 100 and 300 South
  2. A portion of 100 South

Access to the hospital was not majorly affected.

Read a recap of the event here.

Campus Safety | Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch

Vice Presidential Debate

Safety and security was definitely a priority during the Vice Presidential Debate. The Department of Public Safety worked very closely with local partners, the Salt Lake City Police Department, as well as the Utah Highway Patrol and United States Secret Service for this. Plans and the operations were considered and implemented in regards to the impact of everyone and the levels of responsibility. Areas of campus were blocked off because of the increase of trucks, media, and other logistical measures on Presidents Circle. DPS worked to make this event as safe as possible.

DPS update

DPS has had a lot of new leadership that have come within the department and bringing with them expertise from other institutions of higher education as well as municipal and state agencies.

A Public Safety Advisory Committee—co-chaired by two student leaders—has been launched. The primary purpose of that committee is to have an opportunity to select what type of public safety services are delivered to the campus community as well as how they are delivered. The committee is made of students, faculty, and staff from across the institution, both the academic campus, as well as the health sciences campus. The committee will produce a publicly accessible annual report.

An Independent Review Committee with the primary purpose of accountability and transparency has also been launched. The committee—chaired by law professor Amos Guiora—will review reports in regards to complaints against members of the Department of Public Safety. The committee is also comprised of students, faculty, and staff from across the academic campus, as well as the health sciences campus. The committee will produce a publicly accessible annual report.

Athletics Update | Athletics Director Mark Harlan

The student-athletes are back practicing with all the health-safety protocols in place. With being unable to compete for the past six months, the student-athletes have been taking advantage of internships and community activities that they normally wouldn’t have had the time to do. The return to play moratorium is still in effect until January 1, 2021. The 20 teams representing 572 student-athletes achieved a 3.51 GPA, and graduated another 100 students.

Campus Construction Updates | Chief Facilities Officer Robin Burr

Construction projects

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.

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.

The 2002 Olympic Legacy Cauldron is currently being refurbished and relocated.

Dave Layton Golf Academy

Located on Guardsman Way, the new practice facility for the golf team will be 6,400 square feet on two floors, with a large putting simulation area, and locker and support spaces for students and their coaches.

HELIX (Healthcare, Educators, Leaders and Innovators Complex)

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.

It will be a five-story building that will sit right next to Primary Children's Outpatient Building. 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

Medical Education and Discovery

Replacement of the medical school component of the old School of Medicine building, as well as innovation discovery and global health components. Construction will begin in 2021 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.

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.

West Village Family Student Housing Project

Demolish the 1960s era cinder block units over the next eight years to make way for updated and denser living quarters for families.


Digital signage

The digital signs at roadways on top of a trailer will be used very selectively. Want to do away with sandwich boards and posters. A signage replacement project is being looked at.


Mobility hubs

The campus planning department has just finished a mobility hub study in conjunction with UDOT, UTA, Salt Lake City, and the VA to look at what the transportation needs are for all stakeholders collectively over the next several years. The outcome of the study was the determination that the university probably needs three hubs. More to come at the next meeting.

Community concerns about Research Park | Community member Steve Jones

The community has the following requests:

  1. May we see the planning documents?
  2. Put the multimodal transportation and transportation demand strategies in place as a condition to the development of Research Park, and to be done simultaneously with the infrastructure improvements that have been proposed so the growth doesn’t happen before the infrastructure.
  3. If you're going to put a new population in Research Park that will draw additional traffic to and from Research Park, that there be a set limit and not have a net increase.
  4. The community would like to have an ongoing dialogue.

Read the Statement of Position regarding the Research Park Vision Plan, signed by the Trustees of the seven Community Councils within Salt Lake City's, District 6, found here.

Research Park Strategy Refresh | Real Estate Administration Executive Director Jonathon Bates and Mark Asnis with Perkins & Will

How can transit-oriented development, a diverse mix of uses, state of the art sustainable infrastructure, and forward-thinking leadership foster a new generation innovation community? To ensure that this vision can be developed incrementally and strategically over time, three design lenses have been established. One is to shape Utah's innovation economy. Two, be inspired by our environment. And three is One U, One Community. Click here to view the slide deck of the vision plan.

The 8,000 housing units mentioned in a Salt Lake Tribune article was based on a development capacity analysis, NOT a commitment to development of this size. Projections are currently at 600 units.

The U wants to continue the dialogue with the community regarding the Research Park strategic vision.