1999 Student Reunion

1999 Reunion


7 Stewart School graduates gather for old times' sake. Visit to U. campus stirs fond memories of '30s.

A group of graduates returned Friday to the University of Utah campus, but it looked a lot different than when they completed classes there in 1933.

But the women, all in their late 70s or early 80s, found one structure, the William M. Stewart Building, looking much the same.Except for missing playground equipment that was outside the building many years ago and some structural changes inside, the ivy-laden building, built in the early 1900s, looked much the same. It is located south of the Utah Museum of Natural History.

The Stewart Training School, a laboratory school for University of Utah students preparing for a teaching career, was where the women either attended kindergarten or first through the ninth grades.

The building housed the school from 1919 to 1966, according to a plaque on the building. It currently houses the university's anthropology program. Many of the Stewart School students, including three of the women in the group Friday, were children of university faculty members.

"Everyone has heard of five-year, 10-year, 20- or even up to 50-year class reunions. But our gathering Friday was to celebrate 66 years. It's unusual for a group to get together after all that time," said Etta Lou Cowles Rose, 81, Walnut Creek, Calif.

A California resident for 54 years, Rose was the "catalyst" for the group getting together for lunch and a brief visit to the school.

The women say many of those who graduated with them in 1933 have moved away or died. They don't know the whereabouts of the rest. But the seven women, most of whom were childhood friends and who grew up in the same neighborhood near the university campus, say they like to keep in touch and to gather together as often as they can.

In 1988, a reunion of many of the former students of the school attracted about 600 to the campus, said Sarah Anne Nelson Jones, who took reservations for that gathering.

Besides Jones and Rose, those who graduated in 1933 and who gathered Friday for lunch or for a visit to the school, are: Gwen Colton Anderson, Betty Jean Neil Anderson, Jacqueline Allen Jeremy and Marsha Ballif Midgley.

Mary Ellen Taylor Jackson, who graduated from the school in 1936 and a close friend of the other women, joined the group.

Several of the women (six live in Salt Lake City) went on after attending Stewart School to attend East High School, the U. or other colleges or universities. Five are graduates of East High and the U.

A visit to the campus brought back many pleasant memories, but some in the group said getting around the campus and finding a parking spot wasn't easy.

"I don't know the university anymore. I get lost up here," said Rose, who toured the campus earlier in the week with a faculty member.

Midgley, 80, who serves on a number of organizations at the U., is a resident of Salt Lake City and more acquainted with how to find her way around on the large campus.

The Cowles Building is named after Rose's father, LeRoy E. Cowles, who was U. president from 1941 to 1945.

Ballif Hall, a men's residence hall, is named after Marsha Ballif Midgley's father, Dean John L. Ballif. He was dean of men at the university.

Mary Ellen Taylor Jackson's father, A. LeRoy Taylor, was dean of the School of Mines and Engineering.

Jackson said she gets together three or four times a year for lunch with quite a large of number of those with whom she graduated in 1936.

"One thing I remember about Stewart School is that the teachers really spent a lot of time getting acquainted with the students. We felt we were really important to them."

Originally published by Douglas D. Palmer in the Desert News.

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History

The Stewart School


Designed by the firm of Young & Hansen, construction was begun in early 1918.

While the building was under construction, it was used as temporary housing for soldiers during WWI as there was a cooperative agreement between the Army and the University to house military personnel during the war.

Although its original use was as temporary housing, it was intended to be used as the Stewart Training School after WWI. This building housed the Stewart Training School from 1919 until 1966. It was officially named the William M. Stewart Building in 1968.

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Explore the SRI

At many universities undergraduates have the opportunity to engage in scientific research only in their junior or senior years. Yet successful scientists all have the same core attributes—curiosity, communication skills and a willingness to learn interdisciplinary techniques— traits that many students already possess as first year students. In 2020, College of Science will give hundreds of undergraduates the opportunity to contribute to real research projects the year that they step onto campus.

The Science Research Initiative (SRI) is a team-based program that will connect students to discovery-based research early in their education to gain valuable scientific skills. The vision is to provide an opportunity to do research for any incoming student in the College of Science. Additionally, the cohort model makes research opportunities more equitable for students from all backgrounds.

The initiative is self-sustaining by design with experienced students tasked with training incoming first year students—a model that could allow hundreds of students to contribute to a principal investigator’s research for decades. The initiative has support from the university, the state, and industry partners who see the benefit of producing students who are ready to thrive in Utah’s STEM workforce.

“Research opportunities for undergraduates are transformative experiences. The problem that the college has historically faced is that there are many more science majors than there are openings in faculty research laboratories. The SRI solves that problem by scaling up the model of one-on-one faculty mentorship in the framework of vertically integrated research streams,” said Peter Trapa, Dean of the College of Science.

The SRI aims to give 500 undergraduates per year the opportunity to contribute to scientific discoveries, just like Bridget Phillips, a Crocker Science House Scholar and sophomore biology major with a math minor, had this summer.

Phillips was working in biologist Mike Shapiro’s Pigeon Genetics Lab writing code for a project looking for genes that determine the birds’ eye color. She was mining mountains of data searching for a quantitative trait locus (QTL) peak.

She was comparing the genotypes of two groups of pigeons with different eye colors. Because pigeons breeds are the same species, their genetics should look identical except for the gene locus underpinning eye color.

“I got a QTL peak that showed where the gene might be,” she said, smiling. “It was nice. I impressed the postdocs.”

Phillips has been working in Shapiro’s lab since her freshman year. She is an alum of ACCESS, a program where rising freshman in STEM disciplines join a cohort of like-minded undergrads ahead of their first semester in college. ACCESS facilitated her placement in the lab where she found her passion—coding and genetics, two things she never knew existed in a one career.

“Starting in a lab as a freshman is so useful, but the fear is that you don’t know what you’re doing. But you learn the skills really quickly,” Phillips said. “The earlier you can start, the better. If you find out your freshman year that you don’t like research, that’s good to know. If you like research, like I do, then you know what to aim for.”

The college based the SRI on a similar program at the University of Texas-Austin that impressed Henry White, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and former dean of the college who championed the initiative during his tenure. Since starting the program 20 years ago, UT-Austin has increased enrollment and improved student success, particularly among those from underrepresented groups in STEM fields.

“Students from families who’ve been going to college for generations come to campus recognizing that research opportunities are just as important as the classes themselves,” said White. “This program is meant to promote students who haven’t had the opportunity to be involved in research. We hope to introduce underrepresented, first-generation students to research opportunities, enriching their experience at the U.”

During the first semester, a cohort of students will take a research course to learn basic lab techniques that will replace a traditional prerequisite class. The second semester, the students begin work in a lab led by a principal investigator. They continue the research for their third and fourth semesters, and train an incoming cohort to create a “steady-state” model. During their third year, the students can do an internship or work on an individual project that resembles a more traditional undergraduate lab experience. The college aims to have different streams of research in data science, molecular biology and many disciplines across the College of Science.

In January 2020, a small pilot cohort began the SRI journey. White, Shelley Minteer, professor of chemistry, Markus Babst, professor of biology, and Braxton Osting, professor of mathematics, have committed to developing initial projects. The goal is to eventually have 500 freshmen, sophomores and transfer students participate every year.

SRI brings benefits beyond campus. Others outside the university see benefits beyond student success. Funding has come from many sources, including corporate, foundation and individual gifts and workforce development funds from the Utah State Legislature. ARUP Laboratories, a national pathology lab, research facility and a nonprofit enterprise of the University of Utah, and BioFire, a medical diagnostics company, are sponsoring SRI because they view the partnership as mutually beneficial.

“We are constantly looking for well-qualified people to work in labs. It’s a career that’s understaffed—graduates have no problem finding a job, but there’s not a good awareness of this as a possible career path,” said Sherrie Perkins, CEO of ARUP Laboratories and professor of pathology at the U School of Medicine. “We’re so pleased to be a part of this exciting new program and to continue the pipeline of excellent students coming out of the university that we employ.”

Research opportunities indeed open many doors, agreed Rachel Cantrell, a senior chemistry major and Goldwater Scholarship recipient. Also an ACCESS alum, Cantrell has worked in Ryan Looper’s organic synthesis lab since her freshman year. At the time, she thought she wanted to be a pharmacist. Instead, she fell in love with research.

She is developing a scaffold for new antibiotic candidates, a crucial field of inquiry as bacteria are constantly building resistance to current antibiotics. Cantrell’s molecule is modeled after a natural product that kills both bacteria and human cells. Her project focuses on modifying the molecule so that it will only kill the bacteria and leave human cells alone. She plans to pursue a PhD after graduating this year. Beyond the research, the community and networking aspects of ACCESS made a big impact on her life.

“I met a lot of great people there that I’m still friends with. I got to meet faculty and was selected for a scholarship to study in Germany—the community aspect was huge,” she said. To undergrads thinking about whether they want to work in a lab, Cantrell has this advice, “You have to give it a chance. I worked as a pharmacy technician for a while, but I loved being in the lab more. Check out what you like. It can open some huge doors.” The new SRI aims to do just that.

 

 

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