Looking to the future

Today marks the two-week anniversary of my selection by the Utah Board of Higher Education to serve as your 17th president. I am honored, humbled, and exceedingly grateful for the trust placed in me to lead this remarkable institution. Thank you for the messages of support and the helpful suggestions many of you have shared with me. Although I have previous experience as a U student, alumnus, faculty member, dean, and parent, I recognize there is much yet to learn in my new role as president. Like you, I have a passion for this university and the role it can play in transforming the lives of our students and our community.

Transition process

Yesterday, I announced the formation of a transition team—Operation Bold—that includes representation from across campus and is charged with helping advise me on the first year of my presidency. Over the next 90 days, I look forward to visiting our colleges and schools to listen and learn about your plans, priorities, challenges, and opportunities. Watch for regular updates on the work of Operation Bold in the coming weeks
I’ve asked the transition team to draw out three areas of focus: (1) research creativity and innovation, (2) student experiences, and (3) our One U initiative. In addition to uniting our campus and serving the state of Utah, these areas of focus invite all people to participate in the bounties of higher education. This work will build on President Ruth Watkins’ goal of becoming a model public university—a university that others seek out for best practices and that is nationally known for serving the community and the world at large. My tenure will also be guided by our continued focus on building an equitable and inclusive campus community and bolstering our campus safety efforts. This work is critically important for all of us and will remain at the forefront of everything we do.

Thank you, Dr. Good

I want to thank Dr. Michael Good for his service to the university as interim president. Neither he nor I anticipated a scenario involving a transfer of leadership over one weekend.  But Dr. Good made this seamless transition possible through his focused commitment to keeping the university moving ahead during the presidential search process. He has my sincere gratitude for his exceptional work as interim president. I know our U of U Health colleagues are happy to have him back full time leading one of the country’s best health systems and I look forward to his continued partnership in the years ahead.

A word about the upcoming academic year

Finally, let me express my optimism and excitement for the upcoming academic year. Even though we face challenges, there are many reasons to be hopeful for our future.
We have effective vaccines, proven public health best practices, and a campus community that has overwhelmingly shown that caring for and respecting each other is a shared university value. You have demonstrated this by getting vaccinated, choosing to wear masks when indoors on campus and in large groups, and by self-reporting and following guidance from our contact tracing team.
Our latest reports show more than 83% of faculty and staff and nearly 70% of students have been vaccinated, with numbers increasing every day. These actions, along with the ongoing availability of voluntary weekly asymptomatic testing on campus, make me optimistic for the coming year. If you haven’t been vaccinated, I encourage you to do so. More information on our campus approach to managing the coronavirus and COVID-19 is available online at coronavirus.utah.edu.

Again, thank you for your support and ongoing commitment and passion for this university. Go Utah!