Jan. 20, 2012 – The State Board of Regents has selected Dr. David W. Pershing as the
15th President of the University of Utah. Dr. Pershing, who is currently the Senior Vice
President for Academic Affairs of the University of Utah, will succeed Dr. Michael K. Young
who left in 2011 after accepting the Presidency at the University of Washington, and Dr. Lorris Betz, who has served as Interim President.
A 20-member Presidential Search Committee chaired by Regent Nolan Karras, narrowed the
search down to two finalists announced earlier this week. Working with a search firm, the
committee considered more than 80 potential candidates and recommended Pershing as a
finalist after an in-depth screening process and several days of comprehensive interviews.
Dr. Pershing is a Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering who has spent the last 14
years in a leadership role at the University of Utah helping the U navigate a challenging
economic climate for higher education by finding innovative ways to fund growth and drive
academic excellence. A gifted teacher and prolific researcher, Dr. Pershing is the recipient of
both the Distinguished Teaching and Distinguished Research Awards and the Rosenblatt
Prize for Excellence. He has authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, won more
than 20 research grants totaling approximately $60 million, and earned five patents. He was
named Engineering Educator of the Year by the Utah Engineering Council in 2002 and is a
winner of the Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology. He was director of the University of Utah’s Center for Simulation of Accidental Fires and Explosions, fueled by a $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy of Utah.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the University of Utah into its next growth
phase,” said President Pershing. “When I arrived at the U three decades ago my sole
ambition was to become an effective teacher in the Chemical Engineering Department. I
never dreamed that I would be given so many wonderful opportunities — to teach bright,
inquisitive students, pursue exciting research and, in my most recent role overseeing
academic affairs, help shape the remarkable trajectory of this institution. Now I am eager to
work with our superb faculty, deans, cabinet, trustees and staff to accelerate our efforts. I am committed to ensuring that the U sustains its focus on academic excellence, outstanding health care, and cutting edge scholarship and research, while finding innovative ways to
support our amazing students and maximize our economic contribution to the State of Utah.”
Dr. Pershing joined the University of Utah as an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering
in 1977. He was named a Presidential Young Investigator by the National Science Foundation in 1984 and became Dean of the College of Engineering in 1987. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, both in Chemical Engineering.
The University of Utah is the flagship institution of the Utah System of Higher Education.
Founded in 1850, it is the first and largest public higher education institution in Utah, with
more than 31,000 students and a campus comprising almost 1,500 acres in the eastern
foothills of Salt Lake City. A major academic and research institution with an extensive health sciences center, the university offers majors in 72 subjects at the undergraduate level and more than 90 major fields of study at the graduate level, including law and medicine.
About The Utah System of Higher Education: USHE includes all of Utah’s eight public
colleges and universities: The University of Utah, Utah State University, Weber State
University, Southern Utah University, Snow College, Dixie State College, Utah Valley
University and Salt Lake Community College. For more information on the Utah System of
Higher Education, visit our website at http://www.higheredutah.org.