A quick scan of this morning’s Salt Lake Tribune highlights some of the most pressing issues we struggle with as a society – our environment and air quality, conflict across cultures throughout the world and the quest for peace, health in a sedentary society, access to the arts and creative experiences across socioeconomic strata, the effectiveness of public education, clean energy, ethics in political and business leadership.
As a public research university, one of our core missions is the generation of knowledge, through scholarship, that is relevant to the urgent concerns of our time. The challenges we face are complex; meaningful progress in understanding and addressing these challenges will require innovative strategies, strategies that bring together scholars from varied disciplines who, collectively, can shed new light on old problems. In the area of health, for example, we have known for years that physical activity promotes health. What we need to know more about is how to change behavior to promote and sustain the type of physical activity that will enhance health across the lifespan. This work requires the partnership of scholars who understand human behavior with those who study determinants of health outcomes.
In order to strengthen the capacity of our campus to address complex societal problems, we are launching a Transformative Excellence Program (TEP). The TEP enables recruitment of faculty in strategic clusters, clusters that bridge different fields of study, focus on specific areas of societal importance, and build on existing strengths already present at the U. Our hope is that by adding clusters of scholars to our campus in strategic areas, we will significantly expand our capacity to address urgent concerns, strengthen our visibility and impact as one of the nation’s flagship research universities, and extend new knowledge to education and to communities. Additional information on the Transformative Excellence Program, including the request for proposals, can be found at the TEP.