Aggie Insights
    VOLUME 4 | ISSUE 12 December 2006    

In This Issue


Event Listings



USU Alumni Spotlight - Richard Campanella

Richard Campanella

Aggie Insights: I understand you were raised in upstate New York. How did you find your way to Logan and Utah State University?

Rich Campanella: “Actually, I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I spent my freshmen year at an upstate New York college but decided to transfer to Utah State in 1985. A summer working for the U.S. Forest Service in Logan had convinced me that I wanted to study in the central Rockies region and be exposed to natural resources, environmental, and geographical topics.”

AI: Your degree at USU is in economics. Why economics?

RC: “Economics is highly relevant to ecology and natural resources. The fields all deal with the allocation of scarce resources. I decided to approach my natural resource-related interests from a non-traditional approach. I joined the Peace Corps immediately after graduating and worked in agroforestry in Honduras for two years, then took an economist position in Washington D.C. before deciding to go to graduate school in Geography and Mapping Sciences at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. That's how I arrived down here.”

AI: Growing up, did you always know what you were going to do as a career? What were your passions?

RC: “From an early age, my parents exposed my brother and me to our environs, taking us upstate to explore the mountains or into Manhattan to explore the city. It took a while for my varied interests to congeal around a specific calling, and to be honest, I never would have guessed during my Utah days that I would devote my life to researching New Orleans. Of all places!”

AI: You’ve had a busy and diverse career thus far. What do you consider yourself first and foremost? A teacher? A scientist? A writer? Something else?

RC: “Definitely a geographer. I study spatial distributions and try to answer the questions of 'where?' and 'why there?' I direct those questions specifically to New Orleans and southern Louisiana and its 300-year history. And then I write about my findings, which has produced three books over the past 11 years.”

AI: What was life like when the hurricane hit? How did you get out?

RC: “It was the most intense week of my life. My wife and I decided to stay, for reasons that I explain in the last chapter of the book. We experienced the full range of emotions that week, from worry to terror to euphoria to shock. We escaped at dawn on day 5, after a nearby warehouse exploded into a fireball.”

AI: Is life in New Orleans returning to normal?

RC: “If you visited the famous historic districts of New Orleans today, you'd barely notice evidence of the storm. But if you visit the 20th-century inner suburbs, you would see street after street of mostly empty houses, some under renovation, some with FEMA trailers in front, some being demolished, and some untouched since August 29, 2005. So you can say we're half back to normal. But, really, the question is not ‘when will New Orleans return to normal?,’ it's ‘what will New Orleans be like when it stabilizes?’ You can't ‘go back to normal,’ just as you can never really ‘go home again.’"

AI: Tell us a little bit about your new book Geographies of New Orleans: Urban Fabrics Before the Storm?

RC: “Geographies of New Orleans investigates the city through six guiding questions: What is the shape, form, and origin of the physical landscape? How have humans transformed the landscape, and vice versa? Where are phenomena located, why there, and how have the patterns changed through time? What distinguishes places from each other? How do people perceive place? What clues do we see in the present-day landscape that reflects the above questions? The book is loaded with detailed analyses, maps, and photos, but it is accessible and of interest to broad audiences. I worked on it for five years and turned in the manuscript one month before Katrina struck. I had the opportunity to add a final post-Katrina chapter.”

AI: Besides your work and your writing, what do you enjoy doing?

RC: “Hiking in the mountains—which I miss dearly! I once worked as a wilderness ranger in the High Uintas and enjoyed it immensely. If you hiked the north slope of the Uintas in 1986-1987 you may have passed me on the trail.”

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Winter Commencement 2006

Professor Janet Anderson

For thousands of students, their college experience will culminate at Utah State University’s 116th Commencement on December 16, 2006.

For commencement speaker, USU stayed close to home by selecting Professor Janet Anderson. Anderson is a well-loved teacher in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences.

During her 16 years at Utah State, Anderson has taught a variety of agricultural courses. For her exceptional work, she was awarded the prestigious 2006 Excellence in Teaching Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For more details on commencement, visit USU’s commencement website.

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New Office Focuses on Retention and New Students

Not long after it was announced that USU’s enrollment numbers were stabilizing, the University opened the new Office of Retention and First-Year Experience in late November.

The Office will serve to connect students and their families to University resources. Several of the programs within the Office of Retention and First-Year Experience have existed before, but are now centralized in one location. Vice President for Student Services Gary Chambers says this will lead to more collaboration. The Office also added a new mission to increase campus retention.

For more, visit the Office of Retention and First-Year Experience website.

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2007 Alumni Calendar Now Available

2006 Alumni Calendar

The popular Utah State University Alumni Calendar is back for 2007. Featuring new, gorgeous pictures of campus and Cache Valley, the calendar is a special gift to all our Alumni Sustaining Members. If you did not receive yours please let us know, also addition copies are available through the ALumni office or USU bookstore. The cost is $5.00 for sustaining member and $10.00 for all others. A special note about one of this years photographer, USU Alum and life long Cache Valley resident Dick Spencer. Dick graduated from USU with a degree in Parks and Recreation in 1981. While at USU he attended the "Exploring Art" class taught by Twain Tippets. It was in this class that he discovered how to see art in nature. We want to thank Dick for graciously donating his photos to help make this year's calendar so beautiful. If you would like to see more of his work, go to or call his studio at 435-258-2658.

To find out more about the Alumni Sustaining Membership program, click here.

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Back to the Buzzer


A-day 1943. Chief project of the day was moving the Block "A" from the mechanic arts building to the library.


Utah State University Alumni Relations sponsors many exciting events throughout the year. To keep informed about the most current ones, visit often.

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Read the Classnotes


Read the Obituaries

Chapter News

December 16
Young Alumni Pre-Game prior to basketball game
USU vs. BYU in Provo. For details go to the Young Alumni Chapter page

For more information about alumni chapters and to find the chapter in your area, visit

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Alumni Basketball Tipoff Parties

Alumni Association Tip-off Parties have been announced, for the most up to date information visit the Tipoff Page.

USU Men's Basketball games 2 for 1 for sustaining members!

Two for the price of one tickets will be available for two upcoming men's home basketball games. They will be:

December 21st vs. IPFW at 7:05 and
December 30th vs. CS-Bakersfield

To get your tickets go to the USU ticket office at the spectrum and present your Sustaining Member Card.

Aggie Student-Athletes Continue to Impress Academically

USU Basketball

Utah State University has built a tradition of attaining high academic success from its student-athletes. It’s a tradition that continues.

According to the NCAA, the USU graduation rate leads the WAC and ranks second among peer institutions, such as Penn State and Texas A&M. The USU graduation rate, which is 78 percent, also exceeds the average for Division I schools.

The success of Aggie student-athletes is due, in part, to Utah State’s strict eligibility requirements. For example, student-athletes must graduate in six years to be counted in the NCAA graduation rate. They are required to declare a major by the end of their second year at USU and must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0.

Another point of pride for USU student-athletes is the fact that they surpass that minimum 2.0 GPA with an average composite GPA of 3.07.

For more on USU athletics, visit the athletics website.

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Travel Opportunities

Costa Rica Discovery Vacation

Costa Rica

February 21 - 28, 2007
Costa Rica is a little of the Garden of Eden and Jurassic Park all rolled into one. It offers incredible beauty, black and white-sand beaches, volcanoes, rugged rivers and friendly people and all sorts of activities from bird watching, sightseeing of its pristine beauty, exciting adventure such as zip-line excursions through the jungle, whitewater rafting, volcano hiking and much more. Costa Rica is spectacularly beautiful and it offers the vacation experience of a lifetime.

For more information on upcoming alumni travel events, visit or call the Alumni Relations office at (435)797-2055.

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