Top 10 Nevada News stories of 2007

Opening of the ‘Joe’ was the defining moment of 2007

12/31/2007 - By: John Trent

The Top Three Nevada News
Stories of 2007

  1. Opening of the Joe Crowley Student Union
  2. 10th anniversary of Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit
  3. (Four-way tie)
    • 'Megafishes' project documented on National Geographic
    • President Milton Glick's "Town Hall Meetings" and "Planning Lite"
    • University sets record for most diverse student body
    • Geography Professor Scott Mensing's unprecedented run of teaching success

In the months leading up to the opening of the new Joe Crowley Student Union, it was hard to miss the buzz.

The University's president, Milton Glick, could feel it.

"The Joe Crowley Student Union programming will create a sticky campus, where students spend more time on campus," Glick said.

The union's director, Chuck Price, could feel it.

"This is their building, their community, their heart of the campus," Price said of the 167,000-square-foot facility, which was built using student funds.

The students' leader, ASUN President Sarah Ragsdale, could feel it.

"The new heartbeat of the University is here, at the Joe Crowley Student Union," she said. "This is our living room."

Given the anticipation and fanfare - as well as the predicted transformative effect "The Joe," as Glick christened it during his opening ceremony remarks on Nov. 15, is expected to have for years to come - it was hard to deny that the opening of the union was among the top stories on the University of Nevada, Reno campus in 2007.

Members of the University Communications staff certainly felt that way.

In a vote of University Communications staff to mark the closing of 2007, the opening of "The Joe" was chosen the top Nevada News story for 2007.

The opening of "The Joe" edged the 10th anniversary of the Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit, which featured the return of President Bill Clinton to Lake Tahoe.

In 1997, it was the visit of Clinton and Vice President Al Gore to Lake Tahoe that created worldwide attention for the beautiful, but ecologically imperiled, mountain lake that straddles two states, Nevada and California.

Clinton's visit in 1997 brought much-needed federal funding to help save the lake and also brought much-appreciated attention to the efforts of Nevada researchers who had been conducting important environmental research at the lake for many years.

Wally Miller, a professor of natural resources and environmental science who attended both the 1997 summit and the return of Clinton in 2007, said the summit pushed researchers to work together.

"(Until the '97 event) there were a lot of people doing a lot of independent research, but we really weren't looking at issues from a collective perspective," he said. "As researchers, we had always talked of the need to get together and collaborate, but (research) competition is competition and we had gone about as far as we could go without a little bit of nudging from the outside world.

"The forum gave us the added incentive to start coordinating our research and to try and just approach issues in a more comprehensive manner. I don't think we'd be where we are today without the forum."

Four Nevada News stories finished in a tie for third place for the top stories of 2007.

They included:

  • An innovative effort, chronicled by National Geographic, by College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources researchers Sudeep Chandra and Zeb Hogan to save the world's "megafishes" in exotic locales such as the Mekong Delta in southeast Asia;
  • The series of "town hall meetings" and other public discussions held by Glick in an effort to inform and engage the campus community regarding a number of important issues. Phrases such as "sticky campus" and "culture of completion" peppered Glick's informal and informational sessions. They ranged in topic from what Glick called "Planning Lite" and the campus' goals for the coming years to the current statewide budget crunch and budget cuts that the University faces as it heads into 2008;
  • The news that the University had surpassed its record for its most diverse student body ever;
  • The unprecedented run of teaching award success experienced by Scott Mensing, chairman of the Department of Geography, who for the third consecutive year won a major teaching award, the Regents Teaching Award;

The remaining top stories of 2007 included:

  • Tragedy hits campus. The deaths of Reynolds School of Journalism Dean Cole Campbell, who was killed in an one-vehicle accident on a snowy January morning while driving to campus, as well as the disappearance and murder of Judy Calder, a longtime and well-respected member of the faculty of the College of Health and Human Sciences.
  • The march up to March Madness. For the fourth consecutive year, the Nevada men's basketball team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Senior Nick Fazekas, the program's all-time leading scorer, and his teammates ranked among the top 15 programs in the country for much of the season.
  • Virginia Tech shootings spur campus reaction. In wake of the murder of 32 students at Virginia Teach University on April 16 - making it the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history - the Nevada campus held a candlelight vigil on April 17 attended by more than 700 members of the student body, faculty, staff and the local community.
  • Class of 2011 Summer Scholars Book Project. More than 2,500 incoming freshman took part in the program, in which the first-year students read the classic book by the late Robert Laxalt, "Sweet Promised Land," then participated in campus discussion groups led by faculty and staff during freshman orientation in August.
  • Davidson Academy nets Time magazine cover. The Aug. 27 cover story, "Failing Our Geniuses," spotlighted the Davidson Academy of Nevada, located on the University campus, as "a new model for gifted education."
  • Washoe the chimp dies. Washoe, the first of five chimpanzees taught by University researchers Allen and Beatrix Gardner to communicate using American Sign Language, died from influenza on Oct. 30, at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute in Ellensburg, Wash., where she had lived for more than 20 years. Washoe was believed to have been 42.
  • Student data breach. In late October, a University employee reported losing a portable USB or flash drive containing an electronic file with names and social security numbers for nearly 16,000 current and former students. The University alerted the current and former students about the situation and allowed them to take precautionary steps to protect their credit information.
  • Orvis School of Nursing celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Orvis School, founded by Arthur and Mae Orvis and opened its doors to 12 students in fall 1957, celebrated its 50th anniversary this fall with a number of events on campus. Said Charles Bullock, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences: "Orvis is known for nursing quality, and that is what makes me really proud."
  • Ants, of all things, could hold key to future Lake Tahoe clarity efforts. According to a team of scientists that includes Monte Sanford, a Ph.D. student, and Dennis Murphy, a professor in the Biology Department, ants could hold important keys to improving water clarity at Lake Tahoe and in maintaining ecological health in the Lake Tahoe basin, playing a substantial role in facilitating water infiltration in forests, which can affect the clarity of the lake's waters.
  • Researchers from Nevada enhance exploration of Moon, Mars. The $1.5 million collaborative project will help develop a center of excellence in planetary surface process research and education, and will align efforts to build on existing strengths of the researchers in the fields of geomorphology, geology, microbiology, geochemistry, atmospheric and hydrologic processes and remote sensing.
  • Master of Business Administration ranked in Business Week Magazine. The part-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) program of the College of Business was ranked No. 17 in the United States by BusinessWeek Magazine in November.
  • English professor one of America's best young novelists. Christopher Coake, assistant professor of English, was named one of the top 21 "Best of Young American Novelists" by the British magazine of new writing, Granta. The honor came only months after Lire, a French literary magazine, proclaimed Coake's book, "We're in Trouble," one of the top 20 best books of 2006.
  • Major Reynolds School of Journalism endowments, major College of Engineering grant. In 2007, RSJ received endowments of $3.17 million for the Paul A. Leonard Chair in Ethics and Writing in Journalism and the Paul A. and Gwen F. Leonard Memorial Scholarship and a grant of $1.5 million to establish a permanently endowed position, the Fred W. Smith Chair in Journalism. In September, the National Science Foundation awarded the College of Engineering a $3.6 million Grand Challenge grant to study the seismic performance of nonstructural systems. The Grand Challenge project will help the college develop an innovative test-bed structure that will be 64 feet long, 26 feet high and 14 feet wide to be used on the three shake tables in the Rogers and Weiner Large Scales Structures Laboratory.

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