Education

BYU Reopens Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum

May 29, 2014
Dan Bammes

  The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at Brigham Young University has re-opened after a two-year renovation project.  

The museum first opened in 1978 to showcase Monte Bean’s collection of big game trophies from a lifetime of hunting.  With an additional 30-thousand square feet, there’s lots of new exhibit space as well as room to house a number of research collection of animal specimens.

Dan Bammes

  The University of Utah will become the new owner of the historic Wall Mansion at 4th East and South Temple in Salt Lake City.

The Wall Mansion was built in the 1880’s and renovated by mining millionaire Enos Wall early in the 20th Century.  In the 1960’s, it became the home of  LDS Business College, but it’s been empty since the college moved to the Triad Center  in 2006.

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In five days, 977 students will graduate from Westminster College. That’s a record for the private liberal arts school.

The 2014 graduating class includes 610 undergraduates and 367 graduate students. It’s made up of students from 35 U.S. States and more than two dozen foreign countries.

John Baworowsky is Vice President for Enrollment Management.  He says a variety of degree programs have motivated more undergraduate and graduate students to enroll at Westminster.

The University of Utah will be closing its Red Zone retail stores after the year 2017. The Utah Board of Regents decided Friday to allow the stores to complete their contracts. The decision comes in light of a 2013 audit that accused the stores of unfairly competing with private businesses.

    

Utah’s superintendent of public schools is apologizing for a political endorsement that was posted earlier this week on the state office of education blog. An official with the lieutenant governor’s office says the endorsement is a criminal offense, but the office doesn’t plan to pursue charges.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Westminster College held a celebration on campus Friday for the 23 students who recently competed in Sochi. The liberal arts school had more student-athletes in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games than any other college or university in the country.

Leading the parade was the Westminster Griffin, followed by a stream of Olympic athletes. Halfpipe skier Maddie Bowman came in with a gold medal around her neck, and stepped up to the podium with the help of some crutches.

Brian Grimmett

The Utah Department of Workforce Services is launching a $6 million grant program to help public schools in Utah fund science, technology, engineering and math or STEM programs.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is recommending employee pay raises and continued funding for air quality initiatives in his 2014-2015 budget proposal. He’s also calling on the state auditor to look into why the city’s property tax revenue is lower than expected. 

Speaking to the press Tuesday afternoon Becker once again stressed the city’s role in addressing poor air quality.

“ It is very much at the heart of this city’s financial success and prosperity," Becker says. "It is a dark cloud hanging over the city.”

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Ann Romney, the former First Lady of Massachusetts, delivered the keynote address to the Class of 2014 at Southern Utah University this morning. She quoted evangelical Christian Pastor Rick Warren in urging the graduates to live a purpose-driven life. She recalled the day when her husband, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, got the call from Kem Gardner asking them to take over the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Brian Grimmett

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he supports school grading, but he says a single letter grade isn’t enough information to determine how well a school is performing. Herbert was speaking at his monthly televised news conference on KUED.

Governor Herbert says it’s important to have an accountability system that clearly illustrates a schools successes and weaknesses. He says his education advisor Tami Pyfer has come up with an alternative system that would do that.

Foxy1219 via Wikimedia Commons

Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s education advisor is working to replace Utah’s two school accountability systems with one easy-to-read, yearly report card. The newest school grading system received mostly negative responses when letter grades were first released last fall.

Utah’s school accountability systems use factors like end of year tests, student growth and graduation rates to show how schools are performing. School grading assigns letter grades A through F and the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System or UCAS grades schools based on a 600-point-scale.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the state of Michigan’s ban on affirmative action. Utah lawmakers have considered a similar ban in the past. But advocates say marginalized groups still need protections.

Whittney Evans

Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is featured in Next month’s issue of National Geographic. The article explores Utah’s ancient history as a hot and swampy island teeming with dinosaurs.

The article follows a group of researchers, hunting fossils in the remote landscapes of Southern Utah, which about 75 million years ago, looked more like the Louisiana Bayou.

University of Utah Campus Store

  The University of Utah’s athletic teams will continue to be known as the Utes under an agreement worked out with the Northern Ute Tribe.

University President David Pershing and other university officials traveled to the Ute tribal headquarters in Fort Duchesne on Tuesday to announce the agreement.  The university will use the Ute name with the full support of the tribe.  The U’s trademarked drum and feather logo is not part of the agreement, though tribal leaders are encouraging its continued use.

Whittney Evans

The walls are up at the new  Guadalupe School in Rose Park. And school administrators say the fundraising campaign is on target for an August opening. 

Bob Nelson

 The first annual Exposition of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, was held on Saturday at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy. The free event was hosted by Beehive Science and Technology Academy, a STEM charter school in Sandy. Hundreds of students in grades 6 through 12 demonstrated their STEM skills to the crowd of parents and spectators.

University of Utah

Utah’s higher education system has been chosen to collaborate with 11 other states to improve college participation and completion rates. The state has received about $200,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the time and resources the project will require. Higher education officials have identified three key issues the state will focus on.

Seventeen teachers in the Ogden School District were told not to come back to work next fall.  Many were surprised to learn one Jr. High School took the brunt of the layoffs. 

Six teachers at Highland Jr. High School will now have to find a new job. 

Ogden School District Spokesman Zach Williams says the school isn’t keeping pace with the progress other schools are making, adding the district is in the process of implementing a school improvement program.

Tnvols2 via Wikimedia Commons

An official with the U.S. Department of Education is in Salt Lake City today talking about the impact technology has on young children. Dr. Libby Doggett is President Obama’s deputy assistant secretary of early education. She's at the Hilton Hotel speaking and taking questions.

Doggett’s presentation, called “High Tech Tots: Opportunities and Challenges” explores how ever-increasing screen time can both aid and impair early learning. But she’s focused on helping technology improve education for young people. 

http://schools.utah.gov/superintendent/

The Utah State Office of Education announced today State School Superintendent Martell Menlove will retire after only a year and three months on the job.

Menlove was appointed as State Superintendent of Public Instruction in January 2013 after serving as deputy to Superintendent Larry Shumway, before Shumway, himself retired in 2012. 

Menlove said in a statement his immediate plans are to spend time with family.

The University of Utah is bringing science education to inmates at the Salt Lake County Jail. Starting today, scientists and educators will volunteer to give lectures and arrange hands-on projects inmates can do to get them motivated for life outside.

One by one, cell doors at the county jail open to release about half the inmates lodged in a housing unit of about 64. They take a seat and turn their attention to Nalini Nadkarni, a professor of biology at the University of Utah and director of the U’s Center for Science and Math Education.

Utah’s Higher Education Commissioner is recommending the smallest tuition increase in more than a decade. The Utah Board of Regents will meet next Friday to consider the proposal.

Anna Botz via Wikimedia Commons

A professor at Utah Valley University who founded the Utah Women in Education Project says women in the state continue to lag behind the rest of the nation in college graduation rates, despite gains in recent years. Dr. Susan Madsen was speaking at an annual meeting of the independent research group Utah Foundation.

The focus of this year’s Utah Foundation meeting was growing the state’s economy with graduates.

Dr. Susan Madsen, a keynote speaker at the event says in a statewide comparison between men and women, women are outpacing men by about 6 percent.

Photograph by Trisha Empey

East High School in Salt Lake City is widely known for being the film location of the Disney movie High School Musical. Now the public school is making its mark in the world of art. When the closing school bell rings Friday afternoon - a public art exhibit will be installed on an exterior wall of East High School. It’s intended to spark conversation about Utah’s cultural diversity, and it’s part of a global art project known as Inside Out.

About 450 elementary and middle school students were in Lehi today competing to see who could build the best underwater robot.  The event is part of an annual competition that gives students a hands-on introduction to science, technology engineering and math or STEM education.

Ashton Adamson and Brenna Pope are sixth graders at Snow Springs Elementary School in Lehi. They’re sitting poolside, where Adamson says they’re preparing to submerge their robot named Nemo into a tiny obstacle course. 

Early education won big this legislative session. State lawmakers set aside $6 million for preschool programs.

The Utah legislature had been reticent to fund preschool programs in previous years. Some were concerned about taking kids out of the home too soon. But Republican House Speaker Becky Lockhart says this year legislators were swayed by information about the value of preschool, especially for at-risk kids.

Some of the fastest growing Utah colleges and universities also receive the lowest amount of state funding per student. But this year, the state legislature has set aside $50 million to strike a balance at these institutions and keep costs low for students.  

Utah Valley University, Weber State University, Salt Lake Community College, Dixie State University and Utah State University regional campuses will all get some of the so-called equity funding.

A bill that would provide training for teachers and parents on child sexual abuse and give schools the option to educate students about avoiding abuse cleared its last major hurtle in the state legislature on Tuesday.

House Bill 286, sponsored by Democratic Representative Angela Romero requires the State Board of Education and Department of Human Services to approve the required curriculum by 2016.

Kevin J. Worthen Appointed President of BYU

Mar 11, 2014
BYU TV

  Kevin J. Worthen will become the 13th president of Brigham Young University.  His appointment was announced Tuesday morning at a student devotional.

Worthen is a former law professor and the current vice-president of advancement at BYU.

Among his challenges in the new job will be dealing with hundreds of young men and women coming home from missionary service.  The change in the age for service to 18 for men and 19 for women meant BYU had a smaller incoming freshman class this year.  Worthen thinks those returning missionaries may be better prepared.

Brian Grimmett

Utah House and Senate leaders have finally come to an agreement on the state budget following a week’s-long impasse. The sticking point was primarily House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart’s proposed $200 million technological upgrade for public education. But that bill is now off the table.

House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart says the technology initiative would have required up to $50 million in ongoing revenue to make it worthwhile. But Senate leaders were unwilling to spend more than $26 million.

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