‘Imagine New Heights’

To support the U and learn more about the Imagine New Heights Campaign, visit giving.utah.edu.

The University of Utah launched its “Imagine New Heights” comprehensive capital campaign Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, after celebrating the inauguration of its 16th president, Ruth V. Watkins, earlier that day.

“With new leadership in place, there is a palpable excitement about the university’s future,” said Fred Esplin, vice president for Institutional Advancement at the U. “It is the perfect time to ensure we have a solid foundation to better serve our students, the state and the nation.”

The campaign seeks support from a wide array of sources, including alumni, corporations and foundations, faculty, staff and members of the broader Utah community. Gifts will be invested in student scholarships and success initiatives; growing experiential learning opportunities; creating endowed chairs and professorships to recruit and retain talented faculty members; facilitating research endeavors; expanding academic programs; establishing new programs and strengthening public education and outreach efforts.

This is the university’s fourth campaign and focuses on people and their collective impact when united by the strength of a 168-year-old institution. Already, the university has seen strides in its six-year graduation rate (nearly 70 percent and above the national average), freshman retention rate (90.5 percent), total research funding ($500+ million) and top-10 ranking for quality among academic medical centers (Vizient, eight consecutive years).

“All of our successes—increased retention and graduation rates, outstanding patient outcomes and research breakthroughs—are the result of individuals who collectively comprise the University of Utah, working together as one university,” said U President Ruth V. Watkins.

“This campaign is an opportunity for our community to come together to support and facilitate the continued progress of this great institution. Let us build on the generosity of so many before us to take the University of Utah to new heights.”

The U’s last campaign, which ended in 2014, raised $1.65 billion to support students, research, outreach, and, most visibly, to grow the university’s physical infrastructure. More than 37 construction and renovation projects provided a foundation of state-of-the-art facilities that will support generations of learning, collaboration and discovery well into the future. To date, more than $1 billion has been committed in the new campaign, including $98 million for scholarships and fellowships, $287 million for research, $145 million for academic programs, $165 million for buildings and $221 million for public programs. The university hopes to double that amount by the end of the eight-year campaign, in 2022.

The Imagine New Heights campaign will seek support in five thematic areas:

  • Enhancing exceptional student experiences
  • Leading biomedical innovation and transforming health care
  • Charting new paths of research and discovery
  • Enriching the arts, culture and human experience
  • Fostering healthy, resilient, inclusive communities

“As we look ahead, it is imperative that the university continue to work with and serve the community and state that has supported it from its beginning,” Esplin said. “As our president has said before: We have a responsibility to not only be the University of Utah, but also the university for Utah. Together, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of all who come into contact with the university.”

Imagining New Heights

Every day, thousands of students, faculty, staff, researchers and health care providers work to make the University of Utah the university for Utah. Below is a sample of these remarkable stories:


Balancing academic and athletic rigor

U senior and gymnast Shannon McNatt studies in the demanding Quantitative Analysis of Marketing and Organizations Program. She applies concepts she’s perfected in the gym, such as progressive learning and balance, to her academic studies.

Interdisciplinary research addressing Utah’s natural environment

U professors Jeff McCarthy and Luisa Whittaker-Brooks approach environmental research from different perspectives—literature and humanities and chemistry, respectively. Together, with their colleagues from other disciplines across campus, they are working to address some of the nation’s most pressing environmental concerns.

Individual attention on a big campus

Transfer student Derek Young came to the U from a small town. Despite attending a university more than twice the size of his hometown, Derek was met with personalized attention. With the support of Tramaine Jones, a student success advocate Derek had the opportunity to work in a world-class lab—something he never thought he’d be able to do.

Community connection

When Sayro Paw first came to Utah at age 12, she was scared and overwhelmed by the language and cultural differences. With the help of a one-on-one mentor at the U’s Hartland Partnership Center, she was accepted to the U and now studies education so she can inspire others to also work hard to reach their dreams.

A life of service

Craig Bryan, executive director of the U’s National Center for Veteran Studies, notes that many student veterans are drawn to service professions because they have experienced first-hand the need for services to support individuals. Student veteran Daniela des Islets is no exception. She plans to become a doctor and was drawn to the University of Utah for its research strengths.

Making discoveries together

Students and fellows have been vital to the discoveries made in the Human Genetics Department. Among them is graduate research assistant Kristi Russell, who works with world-renowned professor Lynn Jorde. She never imagined she would have the opportunity to work in such a prestigious lab alongside faculty literally writing the textbooks used in the field.

Finishing school while battling cancer—on the same campus

U graduate Whitney Bitner is heading to Columbia University for graduate school after completing a math and statistics degree at the U. She earned it while completing chemotherapy treatments at the U’s Huntsman Cancer Institute, which integrates cutting-edge research with clinical care.