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Utah Across Utah Tour strengthens relationships with sister institutions in Southeastern Utah

In the spirit of increasing collaboration between the University of Utah and its sister institutions across the state, Kem C. Gardner announced a $100,000 donation for student scholarships at Utah State University Eastern on Monday. 

It might seem counterintuitive that the U would bring donors to another state university as part of the Utah Across Utah Tour, but President Taylor Randall said that’s the essence of real collaboration — when one Utah university succeeds, all do.

“We have an obligation to collaborate with our sister institutions, Utah State being one of those primary institutions,” Randall said. “Utah State and the University of Utah share some common interest in the fact that we’re the state’s R1 universities. The answers to many of the challenges that we face as communities are found in basic research that come out of our universities.”

A group of leaders from the University of Utah stands at the dramatic red rock Colorado River overlook in Dead Horse Point State Park.

PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Titensor

While visiting Southeastern Utah as part of the Utah Across Utah tour, President Taylor Randall and the other tour members visited Dead Horse Point to see the iconic Colorado River overlook.

This visit to Price was part of the fifth leg of the Utah Across Utah tour. The tour is an opportunity for Randall and other university leaders to strengthen the flagship institution’s commitment to communities throughout the state. The donation made by Gardner, the name donor and a board member for the Kem C. Gardner Institute at the University of Utah, is in addition to over $400,000 the U has already invested in supporting USU Eastern students. 

In addition to visiting the USU Eastern campus, the tour group visited the Utah State Moab Campus and Grand County Extension office and the U’s Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa. After a dinner with community, business, and education leaders in Moab, the president took advantage of one of Utah’s many dark skies areas and made a nighttime visit to Arches National Park. Before leaving Grand County on Tuesday morning, the group took a detour to Dead Horse Point State Park to see the park’s iconic Colorado River overlook. Read more about the visit to Price and Helper here.

University of Utah President Taylor Randall walks with other U leaders at in the red dirt Utah desert at the Rio Mesa field station.

PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Titensor

President Randall visits the Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa as part of the Utah Across Utah tour.

Located on the Dolores River, the U has been operating the Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa since 2007. While some researchers come for long periods of time and stay in cabins on the site, the center has a campsite to allow large groups to come for shorter visits. This provides a unique educational opportunity for U students to disconnect and learn in nature. Zachary Lundeen, the director of the field station, said when groups spend time at the site there is often competition for who will use the outlets to charge their phones. 

“By the third day, no one even cares about that,” he said.

The field station’s remote site allows for a wide variety of research projects from observing the migration patterns of birds to studying the growth of natural onions. A garden on the site with 1,000 trees is part of a larger project where tree gardens have been planted across the West in order to better understand the impacts of climate change. 

“It’s been a nice learning tool for us and hopefully will continue to be,” Lundeen said.