2017 TOP STORIES

AN UNDEFEATABLE POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Campus joins in solidarity and sorrow to remember U student ChenWei Guo.

A senseless act of violence claimed the life of University of Utah student ChenWei Guo last Monday, devastating those who knew him as well as the broader campus community.

ChenWei, 23, was fatally shot by a 24-year-old man police described as a “drifter” in a failed carjacking near the gate of Red Butte Canyon at approximately 9 p.m. Monday evening, Oct. 30. A second U student who was with ChenWei managed to escape. Law officers from across the Salt Lake Valley responded to the U campus to search for the suspect, later identified as Austin J. Boutain. He was arrested the next day after being spotted by a librarian at the Salt Lake Main Library and faces multiple criminal charges.

Boutain and his wife Kathleen had apparently been camping in the canyon. Prior to the shooting, Kathleen Boutain made her way to the Peterson Heritage Center to report a domestic altercation with her husband.

Boutain and his wife, who also is in custody, are considered persons of interest in a homicide in Golden, Colorado.

“This senseless act of violence has shaken our community and ended the life of a dear son, true friend and promising scholar,” U President David W. Pershing said. “By all accounts, ChenWei was a wonderful young man, and we mourn his death.”

Pershing canceled classes on Tuesday out of respect for ChenWei. The president also directed that flags at the university be flown at half-staff until sunset on Friday.

Two different vigils were held to honor ChenWei last week; one organized by the Associated Students of the University of Utah and another by the Asian American Student Association.

Read the full story here.


U SEEKS NEW PRESIDENT
University of Utah Presidential Search Committee members named by the Board of Regents.

The Utah State Board of Regents has named a 24-member committee to conduct a national search for the next president of the University of Utah. University of Utah President David Pershing announced on May 1, 2017, that he will return to a faculty position at the conclusion of a presidential search and will remain as president until his successor is appointed by the board of regents.

The search committee will be chaired by board of regents member Harris Simmons and the U board of trustees chair H. David Burton. It is comprised of representatives from the board of regents, trustees and institutional stakeholders including faculty, staff, students, administration, alumni and community members.

“As Utah’s flagship institution, the University of Utah is increasingly recognized nationally and internationally for its cutting-edge research and quality of educational programs. The selection of this committee has been thoughtful and deliberate, with each member having a significant connection to the institution and a strong interest in the future success of the U,” said Daniel Campbell, chair of the board of regents. “This committee will play a critical role in the search for the U’s next president, and we appreciate the willingness of these committee members to lend their expertise and time to this important process.”

Read the full story here.


 TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN
The library’s Rare Books Department featured a hands-on display of astronomical treasures, from 1,000-year-old books from Ptolemy to first editions of Galileo and Einstein and beyond, the day of the Solar Eclipse.

On Monday, Aug. 21, staff, students and faculty will begin orbiting closer to the University of Utah for the first day of classes, slowly heading to the campus that will be the center of their universe until winter break.

That same morning, the Earth and moon will begin orbiting closer toward perfect alignment, until the moon blocks our view of the sun, casting a shadow across the entire United States that we Earthlings will enjoy as the Great American Eclipse.

On Aug. 21, 2017, millions of Americans will look to the east, with appropriate protective gear, to take part in the elaborate celestial dance. Although a tide of Utahns will head north to see the full eclipse, those in Salt Lake City can witness the moon block more than 90 percent of the sun. The J. Willard Marriott Library will host a solar-eclipse-viewing party from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to help Utes on campus view the event safety. Attendees will have a chance to win prizes throughout the event, including a new telescope, Starbucks gift cards, “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” movies and more.

The library’s Rare Books Department will feature a hands-on display of astronomical treasures, from 1,000-year-old books from Ptolemy to first editions of Galileo and Einstein and beyond. This will be a great opportunity for students to touch and feel books that served as the foundation for the study of astronomy.

Read the full story here and click here to see the video.


HUMANS OF THE U
Featuring those on the U’s campus and sharing compelling stories. Below are a few, but see a list of all our Humans of the U here.

HONEY

“Hi (lick), I’m Honey! I work at the U now and I love it! I got hired because of my great personality and powerful nose. As a canine officer, my job is to sniff out trouble. I’m almost two years old (14 in dog years) and am a yellow lab.

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time with humans to perfect my sniffing skill. Now, I go around campus, smelling EVERYTHING, looking for things that could hurt my human friends.  My nose knows. Not to brag, but I’m kind-of an expert in explosives. I got my degree in identifying seven different families of explosives. That’s a lot! Training for this special training was ruff, but worth it because like keeping everyone safe.”

Read Honey’s full story here.

EMALEE EGELUND

“The first time I gave CPR I had to carry the patient through three feet of water to a boat. The thing TV doesn’t teach you about CPR is that people don’t revive magically from a few chest compressions and a good-old rescue breathe. It can take minutes of consistent repetitions and even then, that just keeps the blood flowing to the patient’s brain and organs to avoid complete organ failure. That was how my first 24 hours of volunteering for the American Red Cross in Texas after Hurricane Harvey went. Another civilian and I found a girl, not more than 5 years older than me, whom we administered CPR. I still don’t know if she survived or not.”

Click here to read Emalee’s entire story.

 

NATE WESTERN

“I used to do ultramarathons, but I wanted to find something new. I am a Harry Potter fan, but I don’t really associate playing Quidditch with that. It has some of my favorite parts of different sports combined into one.

I played for the U’s team for two seasons and last season I played Major League Quidditch for the Salt Lake City Hive. At the regional championships last year we played Arizona State. We were just incredible; very physical. People who had been nervous or who were developing really stepped up. Just playing with that group of people made me more happy than I’ve been doing a lot of things.”

See Nate’s story here.


NEW BIKE PATH
University to Downtown Bikeway opened on June 13, 2017.

How do you get up the hill on your bike? For those commuting to the University of Utah on a bicycle, navigating the hill is a major factor in route selection. Some may desire a low-key slope with switchbacks and quiet streets, while others prefer a short, steep climb to campus.

Join the Sustainability Office; university leaders; Salt Lake City officials; and SLCMoves, Salt Lake City’s Transportation Division, to celebrate the official opening of the University to Downtown Bikeway along University Street at President’s Circle on June 13 at 9 a.m. The City of Salt Lake has taken the question out of the commute with the new University to Downtown Bikeway, a mix of painted bike lanes, downhill shared lanes (also called sharrows), and special markings for crossing intersections. The bikeway has three routes of increasing difficulty to enable U commuters to find their best path to and from campus.

Attendees are welcome to pick up a new bikeway map and enjoy light refreshments. A ribbon cutting and speeches will be followed by a community bike ride downtown.

Click here to read the full story.


MAKE A ‘BRAKE’ FOR IT
U employees spring into action to stop a runaway bus on Foothill Drive.

“I’m not a hero, I just did what I did because it was instinctual,” Rachel Staheli, University of Utah senior accountant for the College of Nursing said after she and other U employees sprang into action to stop a runaway bus on Foothill Drive.

She said Friday, May 1, was a normal day until the UTA bus she and 10 other people were riding to campus stalled after exiting I-215 onto Foothill Drive at the top of the hill. The bus driver put the parking brake on and exited the bus attempting to manually restart the batteries .

Kathy Fellows, an administrative assistant for the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine in the School of Medicine, was sitting in the front of the bus across the aisle from Staheli. She said the driver had to walk around the bus to the driver’s side to access a reset button. The driver did something and the bus doors slammed shut.

“Rachel and I looked at each other and I thought, ‘This isn’t good.’ The bus started rolling downhill, gaining speed, and that’s when Rachel and I both ran forward,” said Fellows.

Staheli said she gave the door two hard tugs, but it didn’t open.

“The driver was pounding on the door saying, ‘Get the brake, get the brake.’ I jumped into the driver’s seat and started looking for the brake pedal,” Staheli said.

While Staheli looked for the brake pedal, Fellows attempted to open the door while keeping her balance as the bus continued to move downhill.

Read the full story here.


TOBACCO-FREE CAMPUS
A new student-led initiative has made its way through the Academic Senate and will make the U a tobacco-free campus.

A new student-led initiative has made its way through the Academic Senate that will make the U a tobacco-free campus, improving the health and safety of all students, staff, faculty, patients and visitors. The U now joins more than 1,800 colleges and universities nationwide that have gone 100 percent smoke and tobacco free.

This rule was passed at the end of the 2017 academic year and will take effect July 1, 2018. The University community will have a year to learn more about the rule and the cessation services offered through the university’s Student Health Services, Employee Assistance Program and Health Science’s wellness programs.

“We are excited the U will become a tobacco-free campus,” said Matt Miller, 2017 ASUU vice president. “This rule will make the U a healthier place to work and gain an education.”

Becoming a tobacco-free campus has taken time and consideration. The proposition was first brought to the U’s attention in 2010 by ASUU and underwent several years of discussion. In 2016, the charge was taken up again by a dedicated group of students with the help of a committee that included faculty, staff, health care providers and students.

“Our goal has always been to support the health and well-being of all who visit the University,” said John Sweetenham, MD, Senior Director of Clinical Affairs and Executive Medical Director of Huntsman Cancer Institute. “Tobacco use remains a leading cause of preventable illness and death, and removing it from our campus takes us much closer to that goal.”

Click here for the entire story.


CLEAR BAG POLICY
To better protect Utah fans, the University of Utah is moving to clear bags at athletic events.

A clear bag policy will be phased in at all University of Utah Athletic events at Rice-Eccles Stadium and the Huntsman Center this coming fall with the goal of speeding up security checkpoints and protecting fans. Enforcement of the clear bag policy will not go into effect until July 1, 2018, although fans are encouraged to begin complying with the new policy immediately.

The policy change comes on the heels of several recent security breaches involving venues for large events around the globe.

“This proactive measure will enhance security inside and outside of the athletic venues and speed up the security screening process for all fans,” said University of Utah’s Chief of Police Dale Brophy. “Security staff will be checking bags, which mean shorter lines, fewer hassles, more time in the venue enjoying your favorite sport(s) and a greater sense of security.”

The policy allows for a variety of options for fans. Each fan may carry one clear bag no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches, or a one-gallon, plastic freezer bag. Small clutches or purses for privacy are still allowed under the policy. Diaper bags may also be taken into venues with the accompanying child/infant. Seat cushions without pockets or compartments will continue to be allowed as well.

The full story can be found here.


Finding refuge in education
Tino Nyawelo faced many challenges when he left the unrest of South Sudan to study physics in Europe. He drew on this experience to create REFUGES, a program that helps underrepresented students pursue STEM fields at the U.

On a balmy morning in late May, fifteen newly-graduated high schoolers and their families filed into the Art Works for Kids Auditorium on the University of Utah campus, greeting one another with excited chatter. The parents beamed with pride — many of their sons and daughters were the first in the family to attend college. Tino Nyawelo, assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, cleared his throat in a futile attempt for the group’s attention. Failing to get it, he smiled at the crowd, thinking of his own journey to the university against overwhelming odds. He cleared his throat again, and this time won over the room.

Nyawelo was addressing the 2017 cohort of the Refugees Exploring the Foundations of Undergraduate Education In Science (REFUGES) Bridge Program. Based in the Center for Science and Math Education at the U, the program aims to encourage underrepresented students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education at the university level. The seven-week program gives freshman the opportunity to live on campus with free meals, housing, tuition and to earn credits toward their degree.

Nyawelo, whose family fled violence at the outbreak of the Sudanese civil war, drew on his own experiences to build REFUGES from scratch. He fell in love with physics as a high schooler in South Sudan, and left the unrest in his country to pursue graduate studies in Europe. When he moved to Utah to join the U faculty, he wanted to pay it forward.

Click here for the full story.