Stronger and better together: One U

You’ve likely heard the phrase “One U” being used here on campus over the past year. President Ruth Watkins coined the phrase to describe the culture she wants to cultivate to foster collaboration and effectiveness to keep the University of Utah on the rise.

But what exactly does that mean? Here’s a primer to help you understand what Watkins and other administrators mean by One U.

What does One U mean?

One U is a term that captures the opportunity for students, staff and faculty to collaborate on innovative, groundbreaking, interdisciplinary work to solve big social problems. The phrase also describes the opportunity on campus to engage in operational effectiveness wherever possible.

“If we as a university aim to model value—quality and affordability—we use resources as effectively as possible when we work together across traditional boundaries,” Watkins says.

The U is rare among its peers in the co-location of a comprehensive research university and a vibrant academic medical center; there are less than two dozen such institutions in the country. This allows the health sciences and a variety of disciplines on our campus to collaborate in scholarship, education, community partnerships and knowledge transfer.

Watkins’ vision for the future is One U, united in serving the people of Utah as the University for Utah and the nation as a flagship institution at the forefront of scientific research and higher education innovation.

One U is an internal theme for framing how we work—not a marketing initiative or external message.

What are some examples of One U in action? 

Here are some examples that exemplify the aspirations of One U:

  • Jim Agutter is a faculty fellow working for Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Reed. Agutter is leading a One U initiative to marshal faculty from across campus to focus their intellectual capital on addressing Utah’s poor air quality. Agutter is organizing a symposium in the fall that will bring assets and people together to talk about the health problems and economic impact caused by bad air and how we might collectively work on solutions to this big problem.
  • The Society, Water and Climate Research Group brings together faculty from biology, political science, atmospheric sciences and geography to think about, among other issues, sustainable water practices—a critical issue for Utah.
  • Mike Shapiro, Gabrielle Kardon, Nitin Phadnis, Nels Elde and faculty from several departments across campus have formed an evolutionary genetics, genomics and developmental biology cluster to bring together research that is shedding light on links between the diversity of life and approaches to understanding human disease.
  • Communication teams in health sciences and on main campus have begun working together over the past year, sharing resources on key projects for the administration.

Why does operating as One U matter? 

Urgent societal problems require interdisciplinary teams given that innovative solutions often come from unique partnerships. In addition, we can be more effective as an institution in many functional areas when we operate as One U rather than independent entities.

How can we facilitate a One U mindset?

  • Create and support cross-campus research teams.
  • Support interdisciplinary educational initiatives.
  • Support functional area collaborations and partnerships across campus.
  • Click here to download the One U one-sheet for more information.