January 2007

Honorable Mention Achievements of U of U Faculty, Staff, and More

James Ferguson has been named president of Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) North America. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, CDR was founded in 1986 to provide a fully automated test system for assessing changes in human cognitive function in clinical trials. Currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Ferguson has 32 years’ experience conducting clinical trials, with an expertise in central nervous system research. He was the founder and president of both the Pharmacology Research Co. (sold to Protocare) and the Pharmacology Data Management Co. (sold to Quintiles), and has conducted more than 600 clinical trials for the pharmaceutical industry. He has authored 85 articles and 10 books, and serves the industry widely as a consultant to numerous companies. Ferguson’s primary role with CDR will be aiding the company in recruiting and training a staff in its Chicago office to better serve pharmaceutical companies in North America.


Ira and Mary Lou Fulton have made the BusinessWeek list of the 50 Most Generous U.S. Philanthropists for the third year in a row. The Fultons are in very prestigious company: Topping the list are Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, and George Soros. The Fultons landed at No. 36 on the list, ahead of such business giants as DreamWorks’ David Geffen, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and film giant David Lucas. Ira Fulton is the founder of Tempe-based Fulton Homes, which builds about 2,200 homes a year. The Fultons have given more than $10 million to the University of Utah, most recently in the “Fulton Challenge,” matching alumni, faculty, staff, and student donations to refurbish the Block U.


Three Ute men and two women received regional Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings for the fall: Zach Ganger, second; Wes Hancock, No. 11; and Jason Smits, No. 26. Ganger and Smits were ranked sixth in doubles. On the women’s side, Elizabeth Ferris is eighth as an individual and in doubles, with Leigh Walsh, 14th.


Beth Launiere, University of Utah volleyball head coach, was named the Tachikara/AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) Division I West Region Coach of the Year on the heels of guiding her team to a historic finish in 2006. This marks Launiere’s second time receiving this recognition, the first coming in 2001. The honor makes Launiere eligible for the Tachikara/AVCA National Coach of the Year award. Utah finished the season with school records in wins (28), conference wins (16), and winning percentage ( 875). In 1990, Launiere took over a Utah program that had won only one match in all of 1989. Now, 17 years later, she took her ninth consecutive team to the NCAA Division I Tournament, won her fifth Mountain West Conference title, and has recorded 11 straight 20-win seasons (12 overall). Five U of U volleyball players were also honored by the AVCA, garnering all-region accolades for their efforts. (See Airial Salvo, et. al., below.)


Alex Mack, a 19-year-old University of Utah freshman, co-directed a short documentary that the world will see at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival this month. The 22-minute documentary, Mother Superior, directed by Mack and Diana Montero, is one of 71 short films chosen from 4,445 submissions for Sundance. Mack and Montero, high school students when the film was made, are among the youngest filmmakers ever to show their work at Sundance.

Mack was 17, a junior at West High School, when she was taking the after-school “Pitch-nic” workshop at Spy Hop Productions, the Salt Lake City organization that teaches high-school students how to write, shoot, and edit their own films. Mack was having trouble choosing a topic for a film when she learned that a relative was addicted to methamphetamines. After doing some research, Mack found that Utah had the third-highest rate for methamphetamine use by women. She spent the next year talking to Utah mothers who were recovering meth addicts, women she found through rehabilitation facilities and newspaper articles.

Mother Superior won the Best Documentary award at the T Tauri Film Festival in Arkansas, an event spotlighting under-18 filmmakers, and played at last summer’s Los Angeles Film Festival. It has screened around Utah, and Mack and Montero received commendations from Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. at an August screening at Utah Valley State College. Spy Hop is slso celebrating its first film at Sundance with the short. The festival runs Jan. 18-28 in venues in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and the Sundance resort. Some short films will be available free on the Internet, at www.sundance.org, starting Jan. 18.


Louie Sakoda, a University of Utah sophomore kicker/punter, was the co-recipient of the Mountain West Conference league’s first-ever Special Teams Player of the Year, sharing the award with New Mexico kicker Kenny Byrd.


University of Utah sophomore Airial Salvo and junior Whitney Webb have received American Volleyball Coaches’ Association All-America honors. Salvo landed on the second team, while Webb collected third-team distinction. They are only the second and third All-Americans in Utah history. They join Kim Turner, who was the program’s first as a third-team honoree back in 2003. Snagging honorable mention All-America honors was Utah junior middle blocker Emillie Toone, who was among the top blockers in the nation with 1.93 per game. Sydney Anderson won the region’s Freshman of the Year honor, while Lori Baird bagged honorable mention all-region accolades.

The University of Utah Development Office received one silver and one bronze at the 2006 Golden Spike Awards ceremony honoring the work of communications professionals along the Wasatch Front. The awards were presented in December by the Salt Lake and Utah Valley chapters of the Public Relations Society of America, the Utah Society for Healthcare Communication Marketing, and the International Association of Business Communicators.


Laura Wall has been hired as the director of development for the Swaner Nature Preserve in Park City. She was formerly the major gifts officer at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. She also has previous experience with the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society.


Amber Walter, a University of Utah senior, was selected as the Mountain West Conference Women’s Swimmer of the Week the first week in December after setting a MWC record in the 50 freestyle. Ute Andrew Jones was named MWC Men’s Diver of the Week.

Eric Weddle, the University of Utah’s star defensive back, received a slew of accolades in December, including being named the Mountain West Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row, joining former Aztec linebacker Kirk Morrison as the only players in league history to accomplish the feat. He was also given seven All-America honors, including being named All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, a first-team All-America selection by SportingNews.com, and a second-team All-American by the Associated Press. Weddle, a U of U senior, is one of just eight Utes ever to make an AP All-America team, and the first since 2002. Weddle was also named one of 10 finalists for the annual Awards and Recognition Association (ARA) sportsmanship award, given to one outstanding NCAA Division I collegiate football player who best personifies the spirit of sportsmanship on and off the field. Weddle tutors learning disabled children, is a speaker at Utah Youth Correctional Facility, and volunteers with the Utah Food Bank.

Regarded as a definite prospect for April’s NFL draft and as one of, if not the most versatile players in the nation, Weddle gave a stellar performance in his final season at the U. He has proven dominant in both pass coverage and run support, intercepting six passes during the regular season and scoring three defensive touchdowns, in addition to five on the offensive end as well. He also finished with 58 tackles (two for loss), one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.

Find out more about University of Utah faculty, staff, and student achievements at Recognizing U, a U of U site created to showcase their outstanding efforts and congratulate the honorees and recipients for their excellence.



U-News & Views © 2007 An online publication
by the University of Utah Alumni Association
Questions? Concerns? Contact Linda Marion, editor (801-587-7837)
or Marcia Dibble, assistant editor (801-581-6996)