September 26, 2011
Expectations for a University of Utah president
(Robert R. Johnson and Sidney Green for Salt Lake Tribune) — The University of Utah is Utah’s largest higher education institution. It is a strong economic driver for our state, and was recently recognized nationally as having the most spin-off businesses of any university, exceeding even Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
It was also recently recognized as having highly efficient medical care facilities as part of its health center and teaching/research hospitals. In the near future, the University of Utah will hire a new president. This is a position that affects all Utah citizens, who pay about one-third of the university’s total operating budget. All citizens would do well to reflect on their expectations for the new president.
The new president, to a large extent, will be the intellectual, philosophical and ethical leader for the University of Utah community. The objectives established for the new president by the Utah State Board of Regents should be public knowledge for all to understand and support. The goals should be lofty and more than just generalities.
The issues and considerations below are intended to be food for thought:
• What is the point of a University of Utah education?
• What should be the balance between liberal arts and learning for life versus education in the professions?
• What curricular disciplines are missing or unnecessary?
• What is the right balance between local-state interests and America’s or even world interests?