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December 2003

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USU Alumni Spotlight - Wm. James Mortimer

Though it has been nearly 50 years since he graduated from Utah State, William James Mortimer has maintained an active interest in the University.   He recalls his years at USU very vividly.

Mortimer looks back on those years as the most formative of his life.  “There I was challenged to be a journalist with honor and integrity, and to work in any assignment with diligence and hard work since no good thing comes without hard work.  I still remember the admonition of Dean Carlton Culmsee that there is no excellence without labor.”

Wm. James Mortimer began a career at the Deseret News in 1957.  In 1959, he took a position at the Deseret News Press.  He remained at the Press until accepting a position as vice president and general manager at Deseret Book Company.  Then, in 1979, the LDS Church asked him to manage the transition of the Deseret News Press to an internal printing organization responsible solely for producing Church materials.  He served as the Church’s director of printing and distribution until 1985. It was then that Mortimer was appointed president, publisher, and editor of the Deseret News where he served until he retired in August 2000.

“I love USU,” Mortimer said in a recent interview, “its traditions, its constant search for excellence, and the great future it has as a premier institution of higher education.  May it realize its full greatness one student at a time.”

Vice President Hunsaker Retires
Vice President of Administrative Services, Fred R. Hunsaker,officially retires on Dec. 31, 2003.  A reception honoring Vice President Hunsaker was held on December 3rd at the David B. Haight Alumni Center.

“Fred Hunsaker is Utah State University, and the exceptional service he has rendered will have a lasting impact on the institution,” President Kermit Hall commented.  “His wisdom, sense of humor, patience, and common decency will be missed.  We wish him well in retirement, but there can be no doubt that he will leave a legacy that will be hard to replicate.”

The 64 year old Hunsaker says he looks forward to catching his breath while catching up on activities and projects he has neglected – golfing, fishing, and farming.


Santa is Alive and Well, and Living in Utah?
Perhaps James Johnson isn’t really Santa, but you wouldn’t guess it by looking at him.  Sporting a very real, full, white beard, this resident of Layton, Utah, looks like Santa all year long.   The Utah State University engineering graduate ('82) first became Santa in 1963 while serving in the Navy.  Johnson was stationed aboard the USS Graffias, a Navy ship that supplied food to the rest of the fleet.  While in Japan, he was chosen to play Santa for a group of sixty-four orphans.  He still remembers how excited the children were when they saw Santa.  From the ship, Jim was able to hand out food and candy to the eager little ones.

Johnson’s fifteen years in the Navy gave him the chance to be Santa all over the world.  Now retired, he has no plans to hang up the suit anytime soon.   In the forty years following that Christmas in Japan, he has been Santa every year.  In keeping with his generous spirit, the money Johnson now earns from being Santa at the Layton Hills Mall gets donated to various charities.  “I love it,” Jim explains.  “You gotta love kids!”

If you make a trip to see Santa, bring a can of food to donate and you’ll get a discount off your pictures with him.

USU Launches New Website
The Utah State University website has received a face-lift.  Along with Admissions, School of Graduate studies, and Financial Aid, the new USU website was launched on December 1st . The new design of the website is for more than just looks.  Now, all primary navigation links are found on the right side of each webpage.  The change is due to research that suggests people naturally look to the right when scanning for information.  This will make navigation around the USU website much easier.  To see the new design, visit:  http://www.usu.edu

Big Blue, the True Beginning when a Mascot is Born
Who knew that our beloved Big Blue was born out of a stupid idea?  After running a story on Big Blue in the October newsletter, information about a former mascot was brought to our attention.  Maybe some of you remember him?

Originally, a live bull was used as a mascot, but was nixed because of damage done to the football field.  The idea was eventually submitted that the bull wear rubber boots.  It was this idea that spawned the annual “Rubber Boot Award” given to the person who came up with the most foolish idea.

Yet, it was this foolish idea that inspired then Student Athletics Vice President, John Mortensen to bring our Big Blue to life.   Purchased for $750, the costume was created by a company in Salt Lake County.  “I was so excited when I drove to Salt Lake to pick up the costume,” remembers Mortensen.  “When they unveiled the costume, my excitement temporarily turned to disappointment when I saw the color.  It was royal (BYU) blue, not navy blue.  The costume did not allow for much movement and had real animal horns.”

Despite the color mix-up, Big Blue was used for the 1986-87 season. After the season, Big Blue’s future was put in doubt, and he sat in storage for the next two years.  It wasn’t until 1989 that Big Blue was brought back and a new tradition born.

Aggie Alumni Murdered in Brazil
Todd Staheli, 39, a native of Spanish Fork, Utah and his wife, Michelle, a native of Logan, were found savagely beaten in their Rio De Janeiro, Brazil home Sunday morning, Nov. 30.  Todd was found dead at the scene and Michelle later died from the injuries.  Todd Staheli was vice president for joint ventures in the Southern Cone gas and power unit of oil giant Shell.  Investigation into their deaths is ongoing.

The couple met at Utah State University and had been married about 15 years. They have three girls, ages 3, 5, and 13, and one boy, age 10.

ROTC Alumni

The “
West Point of the West” is back. The USU ROTC program earned this nickname in 1947 for commissioning more second lieutenants than any other school except the Army’s national military academy.

Utah State University students involved in the Military Science Program have helped protect this country since the Spanish-American War.  The USU ROTC program was discontinued in 1996 due to military budget concerns.  In 2001, the ROTC program was reinstated with the help of the Utah National Guard and USU President Kermit Hall.

Now, the Utah State Army ROTC is establishing a Professional Alumni Association Chapter.  All ROTC alumni are invited to get involved.  An advisory board is being formed to get things organized and form the foundation of the chapter.

If you are interested in being a member of the advisory board, please contact Robert Tripp at 435-764-0996, or retripp@cc.usu.edu

For the full story . . .

ICON Gives Fitness Equipment to USU
Thanks to a partnership with ICON Health and Fitness, USU now has new workout equipment and facilities.  The workout areas are located in the lobbies of the Mountain and Valley View Towers.  Included in the new equipment are six treadmills, two incline trainers, four recumbent bikes, two cross trainers and excercise balls.

A ribbon cutting ceremony for these new facilities took place November 21st in the Mountain View Towers.  The new resources are part of a comprehensive updating of on-campus housing facilities.

Back to the Buzzer
Duke Ellington performs at USU in 1958 for the junior prom.
Duke Ellington


Utah State University Alumni Relations sponsors many exciting events throughout the year. To keep informed about the most current ones, visit www.usu.edu/alumni/events.html often.


Chapter News:

Southeast Idaho Aggie Chapter
Join the Southeast Idaho Aggie Chapter for the Aggie Pregame Party prior to the Utah State vs. Idaho State basketball game.   Enjoy free Aggie ice cream Saturday, December 13, 2003 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. (game time: 7:05).  This event will be held at the Reed Gymnasium, Room 309, 1291 Martin Luther King Way, Pocatello, ID (corner of Memorial Drive & Martin Luther King Way ).  Call 1-888-878-2831 for game tickets.  For more information call 1-800-291-2586.


Aggie Ambassodors
Aggie Ambassadors is a program designed to bring together the community and Utah State University student-athletes for the purpose of creating a partnership with parents and teachers in order to reinforce the principles taught in the home and classroom. The Aggie Ambassadors average three personal visits per month and speak on topics of local and national significance including:
Say "No" to Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco
Stay in School
Reading Assistance Program
Promotion of National School Themes

In September, prior to the Utah State vs. Utah football game, many Ambassadors visited the Shriners Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City.  Members of the band and spirit squad performed for the children.  President Kermit Hall was also in attendance.

In addition to the Aggie Ambassadors, each sports team chooses a charity to work with throughout the year.  For instance, Gymnastics works extensively with CAPSA.  The Soccer team participated in the city-wide Logan River Cleanup this year.  Volleyball combats breast cancer with "Dig for a Cure" every year, and Track has been involved in Sub for Santa for the past several years.

For more information about the Aggie Ambassadors or to schedule an event, please contact Director of the Ambassadors, Amy Crosbie, at (435)797-3294 .

Check out utahstateaggies.com for the latest news and information about Aggie Athletics.  If you would like to receive electronic updates from Athletics, e-mail Joli Hatch at joli.hatch@usu.edu.

Travel Opportunities

China China
May 12-21, 2004 - (rescheduled from September 2003)

To find more information, visit www.usu.edu/alumni/china.html or contact Scott Olson at (435) 797-2055.

Machu Peru: Empire of the Incas
March 17-24, 2004
This exciting tour includes visits to Lima, Cozco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Manu National Reserve and the Amazon. 
Prices begin at $2299.00 per person, double occupancy.  To find more information visit www.usu.edu/alumni/peru.html or contact Scott Olson at (435) 797-2055. 
London BridgeEngland and Scotland
Fall 2004
Don't miss the spectacular sights of London, Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon, Bath, Stonehenge, and more.  Exact dates and pricing will be available at a later date.


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