2010: A GREAT YEAR
How are we ordered at Utah State University? Not in the exacting scientific sense of order, genus, species, etc.
Does our ordered path of impact go: "an institution » a project » a person?"
Or is it the reverse: "a person » a project » an institution?"
And how do we break down who and what we are and, in the end, say to ourselves - and to you - that 2010 was a great year at Utah State University? These are not rocket-science questions, although if they were, we’d know those answers as well as anyone, since we truly are experts at rocket science.
But we have English Department in our bones too, deeply enough that we have diagrammed (and still can!) the exactness of sentences, the exactness of gerunds and participles aside. We model sentences, not just probability distributions or mathematical equations, and we take seriously the job of accurately telling our story.
Great people make this university great, not the reverse. We need only look to our students, our professors, our alumni to see the roots of greatness. People ... do things ... become University. Become Great University.
At Commencement we watched Dani Babbel leave us. Dani: who had to choose whether to be valedictorian for HASS or Natural Resources (she chose CNR), now cramming to be a doctor to fix the world, our latest Rhodes Scholar finalist. And Dione Garlick: double major, concert pianist on the side, deciding between Boston College law, UTexas-Austin law, maybe Georgetown, maybe Cornell, UCLA (bingo, lucky Bruins).
Or our boy Jeff Carr: heading to Stanford for a grad program in Russian studies, new baby in his life and fighting the urge to say yes to NYU's prestigious creative writing program instead of ... what, are you kidding — Stanford? Ah, but Manhattan's street cred for the writer in him to match himself against his fellow- USU-writer buddy, John Gilmore, another undergrad — who just happened to win perhaps THE most prestigious student writing award in the U.S. last year, the Norman Mailer Prize in Literary Nonfiction.
Yes, USU students all. The tops of the tops. Not just here, not just in the state. In the nation. These are the best of this nation's elites. And they are ours, although own them we defi nitely do not. In fact, we owe them. They serve as the pulse for what we do.
Students come here as freshmen ... ... meet professors ... ... remold into seniors ... and become alumni who shape this world. The story is the same, whatever decade you preened here. What do buzzcut/ beehived (early '60s), long-haired (early '70s), purple-haired ('80s), mohawked (remember that early '90s craze) students — kids, really — become when they grow up?
We remember 30+ years ago one of those skinny, Frisbee-onthe-quad, class-skipping kids, who ... went on to Harvard grad school ... started a little voice-mail technology business ... shows up now in National Geographic specials ... shows up (wishing he were in the background) in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park where his foundation is helping restore a country's livelihood.
This year we highlighted alumni from around the world: Norah al-Faiz, Deputy Minister for Women's Education in Saudi Arabia and named to Time Magazine's "100 Most Infl uential People"; Michael McCull ugh, Executive VP and CMO, Miami Heat; Richard F. Daines, Commissioner of Health of the State of New York; or, to add a more recent graduate, Joey Lynn Blanch, criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Offi ce in Los Angeles.
As we grew, as we gained, we also suffered losses. There were moments with tears. We lost the "voice of USU" this year, Merlin Olsen, a gentle giant as Father Murphy on the screen, and a gentle giant among true giants of humanity and selfl essness. Merlin, as he was simply known to all, was a driving force in the university's comprehensive campaign (which surpassed the $300-million mark this year!), so it was fi tting that donors and friends unveiled a larger-than-life bronze statue honoring him.
There are always ups and downs, or downs that were up — Huntsman business students rocketing down Old Main Hill on a 200-foot water slide (raising money to fi ght cancer) — or a beloved Landscape Architecture professor walking up that breath-stealing hill, enjoying life, as always, even as he struggled for true last breaths as he faced the disease that took him from us.
If students are the pulse running through our veins, then our faculty are the heart pumping them. Feeding. Working them. Coddling them. Letting them explode. No, making them explode. Sometimes reeling them in and, often, when we are honest with ourselves, just staying out of their insanely brilliant ways. It takes a certain kind of professorial assuredness — the assuredness of knowing one's job — to recognize when to play which card or, better, how to play all those cards during the same class.
Not to brag about our professorial ranks or anything, but we added another Carnegie Professor of the Year this year. Engineering professor Laurie McNeill makes 10 of the last 16 Professors of the Year in Utah from USU — not that we have a big head about these sorts of things, and we of course forgive envy.
Award accolades from the year are always just the spotlight moments, and there were many to detail. There are every year. (On page two we show you one from each college. Just one.) But year in and year out, there always are the unheralded maestros, often young guns unheralded and unknown ... so far. You don't know Tim Shahan in Pyschology, an expert in addiction, a Shaman of addiction. You will. Or Center for Persons with Disabilities researcher Vonda Jump? They know her in Jordan, where she is leading efforts to train kindergarten teachers. Engineering's Chris Winstead, recipient of a prestigious National Science Foundation career-development honor? Rosemary Fullerton in Accounting? Camille Litalien in Theater?
OK, we're name dropping now, but we guarantee that these will be the capitals on the USU map real soon.
We are in places far, places near. We build things, we grow things, and we matter. This was a year of explosive growth in Utah itself, and not just in bodies, structures and pretty new flag poles. Have you been to Vernal lately? Price? On campus itself?
VERNAL, Utah — USU Bingham Entrepreneurship center, a ribbon cutting, in September: We went to the scheduled building dedication but instead witnessed a community dedicating itself ... to itself. This is not a building; it is gift of long-term economic and communal health. Watch this community grow.
PRICE, Utah — USU-College of Eastern Utah partnership, announced in April: We went to CEU commencement and to celebrate with our new partners. But we saw, instead, or in addition to, a celebration of community purpose, a purpose now backboned by our own well-rooted institutional spirit. A great team indeed.
NORTH CAMPUS, SOUTH CAMPUS, THE QUAD, PARK CITY— A (very shortened) list: Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Education and Research Center, Swaner EcoCenter, USTAR BioInnovations 650, Equine Education Center, a new College of Agriculture building to grace the quad ... and Merlin Olsen Field.
2010: A GREAT YEAR
These are our mentors, our memories from a year, our models — models for who we are now, and who we will become, and models that tell us for certain that 2010 was another great year at Utah State University.