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U MUSE Project announces theme year focused on empowerment; keynote speakers associated with the movie “Hidden Figures” and NASA to speak in March.

By the University of Utah MUSE Project

The University of Utah MUSE Project has announced it will focus on the theme of empowerment for campus-wide exploration this year. Empowerment will be discussed at a variety of MUSE-sponsored events, including MUSE’s regular weekly programming and a keynote presentation in March. MUSE, which stands for My U Signature Experience, is a presidential initiative dedicated to enriching the culture of undergraduate education at the U by connecting students with inspiring learning opportunities and people.

“Hidden Figures” author, Margot Lee Shetterly.

“We’ve chosen the theme of empowerment because we believe it’s what we’re all working for in higher education,” said MUSE Director and English professor Mark Matheson. “At MUSE, we help students recognize and develop their individual talents and gifts, which gives them greater agency in building their lives and contributing to the well-being of others.”

Each year, the MUSE Project selects a centerpiece text that highlights the annual theme. This year, students will read “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly, which served as the basis for the award-winning 2016 movie. The year will culminate with a keynote address featuring both author Margot Lee Shetterly and Dr. Ellen Stofan, former chief scientist at NASA.

“Through her book ‘Hidden Figures,’ Ms. Shetterly introduces us to a trio of brilliant role models: women of color who, in the 1960s, persisted in their roles at NASA despite institutional discrimination and prejudice,” said MUSE Program Manager Libby Henriksen. “Dr. Stofan, through her exemplary career as a professor, researcher and scientist, brings a present-day perspective to the challenges women and other underrepresented groups still face in STEM disciplines.”

Dr. Ellen Stofan, former chief scientist at NASA.

Thanks to a generous donation from the O.C. Tanner Company, free copies of “Hidden Figures” are available for students at the MUSE Office, 120 Sill Center. The keynote address will be at Kingsbury Hall at 12 p.m. on Friday, March 30, 2018, and free tickets will be available beginning in February.

MUSE has a history of bringing distinguished national figures to campus to enrich student education. Previous guests include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Rep. John Lewis and “Humans of New York” creator Brandon Stanton.

MUSE aims to help undergraduate students at the U find inspiration, mentorship and community. MUSE internships enable students to be mentored in their chosen fields, and Lunchtime Lectures offer a setting for students to converse with outstanding U faculty. A collegium of MUSE professors, who have demonstrated a strong commitment to undergraduate education, provide students with opportunities for conversation and mentoring at events throughout the academic year. MUSE welcomes all undergraduate students, and those interested can get involved by dropping by the MUSE Office or signing up on