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U Names Five Beacons of Excellence

October 28, 2013 – The University of Utah has recognized five individuals or programs for helping transform the undergraduate experience with opportunities for real-time research, promoting healthy lifestyles, and exploring academics and culture through theater in London.

The U’s Offices of Undergraduate Studies and Student Affairs are celebrating the second Annual Beacons of Excellence Award with a luncheon on October 31 in the University Union Ballroom. The award began in 2012 to recognize engaged learning experiences on U campus, whether by individuals, programs, centers or projects.  There were 279 nominations for the award in 2013, with the majority submitted by students.

“The Transforming U:  Beacons of Excellence Award” recognizes pockets of brilliance at the University of Utah,” says Martha Bradley, senior associate vice president for academic affairs. “These inspiring teachers, empowering programs and engaging research opportunities demonstrate the core values of the campaign to transform the student experience.”

About the 2013 Award Recipients

Academic Associate Research Program, School of Medicine

The U’s Department of Pediatrics offers students an opportunity to understand and experience clinical research in a healthcare setting. Maija Holsti, M.D. leads the Academic Associate Research Program Team. Through courses and clinical studies, students gain exposure to clinical research, interact with pediatric patients and their families, and develop relationships with pediatrics faculty members. Students learn professionalism in the clinical setting, study design, how the Institutional Review Board works, ethics and submitting to scientific journals.  One nominator noted that through the program, undergraduate students have the unique experience of conducting real-time research in the fast-paced environment of the Primary Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.

Jill Baeder, Undergraduate Studies

As associate director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, Jill Baeder has spent the last 12 years engaging students through the art and science of research. She meets with them individually to assess their needs and interests, and recommends possible matches with research faculty. Once a match is finalized, she mentors them through the research process, provides grant monies and avenues for them to present their research — such as the Research Posters on the Hill where students present their results to legislators. Baeder is recognized for inspiring and motivating students to expand their studies and reach beyond the confines of the classroom while helping to provide them with the means to do so. 

Students Promoting Eating Disorder Awareness and Knowledge (SPEAK), College of Health

This influential campus group focuses on the troubling trend of eating disorders on university campuses nationwide. The diverse students involved help promote self-esteem, healthy body images and healthy eating habits, but also the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. Since inception by Justine Reel, associate professor of health promotion, the organization has focused on students promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviors, which is important for college-age students.

Elizabeth Tashjian, David Eccles School of Business

Elizabeth Tashjian, associate professor of finance, is recognized as a powerhouse for connecting students to her discipline of finance as well as the joy of learning at the U. The recipient of numerous campus and community awards, Tashjian has invested extensively in improving the student experience by advising the Finance Club, teaching a course that facilitates the Student Investment Fund, and preparing students for future careers through the Week on Wall Street trip.  A student nominator wrote that she has changed the lives of countless students, by challenging them to challenge themselves — both in and out of the classroom.

Theatre, Fine Arts, and Humanities in London Learning Abroad Program, College of Fine Arts

The London Learning Abroad Program was initiated in 2001 and has offered hundreds of students the opportunity to explore a global perspective of theater with faculty who know the academic and cultural background as well as the locale of London.  The summer program is sponsored by the theatre department and Learning Abroad Center and is led each year by theatre faculty members Tim Slover and Jane England. The leaders use living theatre as a window and London as a classroom to explore art, cultures, history and urban living in this most cosmopolitan of the world’s cities.