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Top 10 USU Highlights for 2010

Friday, Jan. 07, 2011

USU campus and Old Main

This past year marked many significant achievements and recognitions for Utah State University. Here is what USU’s Public Relations & Marketing staff considers to be the university’s Top 10 highlights, and notable mentions, for 2010.

We look forward to touting even more university accomplishments in the year ahead.


Major Reorganization for USU Commercialization, Regional Development

Increased efficiency and improved opportunities to turn innovation into viable commercial successes was the impetus behind a major reorganization involving Utah State University’s research, commercialization and regional development activities.

The new structure refocuses the university’s Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) efforts, as well as keeps pace with expanding opportunities for commercial development and public/private partnerships, both in Logan and at the regional campuses. That means integrating commercialization activities, creating a new governance structure and facilities management team for USTAR and creating a commercialization review and coordinating council.

Rob Behunin, special assistant to the president and associate vice president for strategic ventures and economic development, was named USU vice president over commercialization and regional development. In this new role, Behunin coordinates all university commercialization activities.


Upgraded USU Website Launched

The USU website received a major face-lift that includes a new design layout and navigational features. Significant changes in 2010 include an upgrade to the university website search engine to Google Custom Search; the creation of homecoming and graduate school websites; a new university online directory with data drawn from the Banner system; a new design for the USU Web template; a new university online giving form, including a management system; a first-ever database for the new “Degree Finder” website that helps students peruse information about USU’s degrees.


Another USU Professor Named Carnegie Professor of Year

Utah State University engineering professor Laurie McNeill was one of 38 national winners named as the 2010 Carnegie Professors of the Year.  McNeill’s selection makes the count 10 of last 16 picks in Utah to come from USU. She is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at USU. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education named McNeill one of the nation’s top university teachers, selected from more than 300 professors who were finalists. 

McNeill has received accolades from students and colleagues alike for her innovative approaches to teaching and mentoring students. She tries to broaden the context of lecture materials and to get students to think outside the lecture/equation box.


One College Becomes Two

July marked the official beginning of two new colleges at USU: the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Caine College of the Arts. Prior to this, the college of arts was part of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS). Craig Jessop, a USU alumnus and former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, was named dean of the new arts college. John C. Allen, who served as associate dean for research and graduate education for HASS, became founding dean of the new college that includes humanities and social sciences.


Construction on the Quad

Construction began on the east side of the Quad for the College of Agriculture. The $43 million building will take two years to complete.  The 125,000-square-foot structure will feature two main wings. The first includes three stories of high-tech laboratories and research space. The second rises to four-stories that faces south and houses the faculty and administrative offices, replacing the existing Ag Science Building finished in 1955.


Ribbon Cuttings and Ground Breaking

  • USU Community Education Center, Aug. 12

Utah State University broke ground at the Utah Botanical Center for a new Community Education Building. The center is part of USU’s Regional Campuses and Distance Education programs for Weber County.

The groundbreaking launched the first of three phases at the site. Phase one will be completed March 2011 and includes 6,400 square feet housing 11 classrooms, all fully equipped with cutting-edge technology. The building can receive interactive broadcast courses from Utah State University’s Logan and regional campuses. The new facility provides residents in Davis, Weber and north Salt Lake counties enhanced opportunities to continue and complete a university education. There is also space for community classes, meetings and events. With its location at the Utah Botanical Center, the new building furthers USU’s commitment to sustainability.

  • Utah State University’s College of Agriculture Equine Education Center, Sept. 8

The center was built in response to the high demand for equine education throughout the western region, with the first phase taking less than one year to complete.

The construction for the Equine Education Center was broken down into phases. The first phase, which includes an indoor arena, horse stables and covered hay shed, is complete. Future phases include a building to house classrooms and offices, indoor and outdoor round pens and an outdoor arena. The facility, once fully built, will cover 26 acres and have a total interior of 75,000-square-feet. The physical facilities will be surrounded by a bridle path that allows users to enjoy one of the most beautiful locations in Utah.

  • Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Education and Research Center, Sept. 14

The center, home to progressive programs and research in early childhood education, focuses on improving educational opportunities of young children.

The facility was made possible by a $25 million gift from the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation and an additional $1 million gift from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. The Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Education and Research Center and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for Early Care and Education will offer early childhood educational opportunities for students as well as applicable experience and research for USU undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Dr. Randall and Julianne Stockham Student-Athlete Academic Hall of Honor, Sept. 18

The Stockham Student-Athlete Academic Hall of Honor is located on the third floor of the Jim and Carol Laub Athletics-Academics Complex, located in the north end zone of Romney Stadium.  In the same way our Aggie Sports Hall of Honor celebrates the tremendous past accomplishments on the fields and courts, our new Academic Hall of Honor pays tribute to the significant academic accomplishments of our past student-athletes as well as the achievements of our current student-athletes.

  • Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center, Uintah Basin Campus in Vernal, Sept. 24

The 70,000-square-foot Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center is a state-of-the-art, high-tech educational facility that will train students in business, entrepreneurship, accounting, engineering, water management, natural resources, environmental policy and other programs. Through the efforts of the Bingham Center, its scientists, researchers, laboratory partners and industry consortia, USU will be able to create innovative “best practices” for resource and economic development, environmental stewardship and education access. 

  • The USTAR BioInnovations 650 building, Oct. 7

This state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research building on the USU Innovation Campus is a 110,000-square-foot facility designed to foster collaborative relationships among all USU life sciences researchers, industry and other higher education institutions.

The new USU USTAR building is a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Gold designated building.


Topping $300 million

The university passed the $300 million mark in August of its $400 million Comprehensive Campaign. The real story behind the numbers can be measured best in five major focus areas: (1) dramatic changes in USU’s physical facilities; (2) dramatic expansion of regional campuses; (3) increase in endowments, chairs and professorships; (4) the campaign’s impact on access to education; and, (5) the impact on Aggie athletics. By September, USU’s endowment had grown to nearly $180 million, a 4 percent increase in the past two years, the same period in which university endowments nationwide have plummeted. USU’s increase came mostly from new gifts.


Merlin Olsen

Utah State University mourned the passing of USU football legend Merlin Olsen. He died March 11 at age 69 after battling mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.

Some three months earlier, in December, 2009, Olsen appeared before a sellout crowd of 10,270 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. He was honored for the naming in the fall of the Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium.

On Oct. 23, 2010, a larger-than-life bronze statue of Merlin Olsen was unveiled on the South Plaza of Romney Stadium.

Olsen was a three-year letterman on the offensive and defensive lines for USU’s football team from 1959-61, earning All-American honors during both his junior and senior seasons. During his senior season in 1961, he won the Outland Trophy as the nation's outstanding interior defensive lineman.

Olsen also was a three-time academic All-American at Utah State and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Kappa Phi in 1962 with a degree in finance. He went on to play in the National Football League with the Los Angeles Rams from 1962-1976. In his 15 seasons, he was selected 14 times for the Pro Bowl and was a six-time All-Pro choice.

He also made a name for himself as a sports commentator and as an actor in motion pictures and TV shows. He was a spokesperson for FTD, and he helped the Children’s Miracle Network raise more than $3.4 billion since its inception in 1983.


The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter  private gift to USU

The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter in Park City became the largest private gift in Utah State University history. The gift transferred the Swaner Preserve to USU ownership and oversight. The monetary value of the gift is in excess of $30 million. The addition of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter directly advances USU’s statewide scientific, educational and outreach mission in the Park City area.


USU-CEU merger

Passage of Senate Bill 69 marked the first-ever merger in the state’s system of higher education when the College of Eastern Utah officially became part of the Utah State University system. CEU’s new name is Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah. The mission of USU-CEU is to remain as a regional community college. The merger increases USU’s reach in southeastern Utah, from Price to Blanding. USU-CEU students will find an easier transition once completing their first two years to continue their studies toward four-year and graduate degrees.

Notable mentions:

USU Brigham City Campus Expansion Plans

Utah State University received Regents, Box Elder County and Brigham City approval for the $4 to $5 million purchase of 40 acres of property on the former Intermountain Intertribal School property in Brigham City adjacent to existing university property at the former K-mart site. This acquisition will provide opportunities for the university to expand campus offerings in the years ahead. The USU-BC campus enrollment has grown from fewer than 200 students 15 years ago to a student-body of 1,087 in the fall of 2010.

USU Beats BYU in Football

For the first time since 1993, USU gained possession of the Old Wagon Wheel, as the traveling trophy returned to Logan following a 31-16 Aggie football victory over the BYU Cougars Oct. 1. Since 1948, the winner of the in-state game has taken home a wagon wheel that records the winner of the each game. The wagon wheel has been in BYU's possession since 1994. The Aggie victory snapped a 10-game losing skid to BYU.

New Women’s Academic Unit

Ann M. Berghout Austin was named founding director of the new USU Center for Women and Gender. The center brings together the Women’s Center for Lifelong Learning, the Women and Gender Research Institute and the Women and Gender Studies program into one funded program that allows for synergism between the research, teaching and outreach components of USU’s land-grant mission.

USU Sets New Enrollment Record

Utah State University marked another enrollment milestone in its 122-year history with a record fall headcount of 25,767 students, up 702 students from 2009 and includes a record number of first-time students entering college on the Logan campus.

The numbers do not reflect the 21 percent growth at Utah State University – College of Eastern Utah, which merged with USU in July. USU-CEU saw an increase of nearly 500 students for a total of 2,634.

USU Cited in National Rankings of Note

  • USU named one of the top 100 public institutions of higher education in the Best Colleges of 2011, (U.S. News and World Reports, Aug. 2010)
  • No. 1 highest-ranked public university among schools with the lowest tuition in America’s Best Colleges (Forbes, Aug. 2010)
  • No. 1 highest-ranked public university in the West and No. 5 highest-ranked public university in the nation in America’s Best College Buys (Forbes, “America’s Best College Buys,” Aug. 2010)
  • No. 2 ranking for aerospace engineering funding (National Science Foundation’s fiscal report)
  • One of the country’s most environmentally responsible universities (Princeton Review, “Guide to 286 Green Colleges,” April 2010)
  • “Best in the West” College (Princeton Review, “2011 Best Colleges: Region by Region,” Aug. 2010)
  • Aggie Athletics labeled the third most efficient athletic department in the nation (Excellence in Management Cup, Texas A&M Institute for Intercollegiate Athletics, July 2010)
  • Ranked 5th nationally and 4th among the mid-major conferences for commitment of financial resources to women’s sports (The Gender Equity Cost-Benefit Scorecard, June 2010)

Stephen R. Covey joining Huntsman School of Business

Stephen R. Covey joined USU’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business as a tenured, full professor at USU and as the first incumbent of the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair in Leadership. Covey is an internationally recognized authority on leadership and a best-selling author. He is best known for his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His books have sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages. Forbes named the “7 Habits” book one of the top 10 most influential management books ever written.

USU Basketball’s Continued Prowess

The men’s basketball team took the WAC championship for the third time in a row and celebrated yet another NCAA appearance. This marked the 11th straight post season playoff appearance for the men’s basketball team, the fourth highest winning percentage in the nation.

Women’s Volleyball Wins First-Ever WAC Tournament Championship

The Aggies unfurled a 24-8 banner year, the seventh most volleyball wins in school history and the most unforgettable season since the 1982 team went 28-19.

Goldwater Scholars Named

Two USU students are named 2010 Goldwater Scholars and one Aggie received honorable mention in a prestigious national competition established by Congress that recognizes outstanding undergraduate achievements in science and mathematics. Daniel Fenn, of Tremonton, Utah, and Justin Koeln, of Poolesville, Maryland, were recipients of the award. Robert Call, from Batesville, Indiana, received honorable mention. With this year’s honorees, USU boasts 15 Goldwater Scholars and six honorable mention recipients since 1998.

USU iPhone Application Launched

On Dec. 30, USU quietly went international with the launching of its first-ever smartphone application – an Aggie App that puts USU in everybody’s pocket. Users can now access the latest news and events, navigate campus and find out when the next shuttle bus arrives. Students can use one of 14 widgets to check their grades or to catch the time of the next game.

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