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December 29, 2011
By John Trent
Important dates can become frozen in time, and one date that the University of Nevada, Reno will always remember will be April 16, 2011 - the day President Milt Glick passed away at age 73.
The news shocked the entire University and the community. For five years, the University's 15th president had toiled to create what he often called a "sticky campus," a campus that was characterized by what he termed "a culture of success."
By almost every account, often against imposing odds as the campus struggled to maintain its equilibrium in the face of record-setting state-mandated budget cuts, Glick's mission was successful.
In the days and weeks that followed Glick's death, members of the campus community, former colleagues, and leaders throughout the state of Nevada, recalled a man who had an uncanny ability to grab the collective imagination of a University in pursuit of a singular goal: to build an institution that represented quality, student success and that served its state with distinction.
More than 1,000 students, faculty and staff held a candlelight vigil in Glick's honor following his death. Then, on April 21, another 3,000 gathered in Lawlor Events Center for Glick's memorial service.
Glick's friends - former colleagues, current students, faculty members and administrators, legislative leaders - recalled a man who was passionate about everything he did, a man who loved his University and the students who made the institution so special.
Former ASUN President Eli Reilly, who worked closely with Glick for two terms, said Glick's influence on the institution was so profound, "there was not one square foot of campus I could walk by and not be reminded of Milt. Milt believed students will change the world ... (and) this University holds the connective tissue that holds this community, this state, and this world, together."
Rosemary McCarthy, a longtime professor in the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism, summed up Glick and what his life meant well. She said that it would have been easy for Glick to turn and leave when the economy soured in 2008, forcing the University into a series of painful budget reductions over the next three years. Instead, she said, Glick's words and actions in the wake of the budget reductions convinced her that Glick was a special kind of person, one who found possibility no matter how dire the situation might be.
"I realized," McCarthy said, echoing the sentiments of so many in attendance that April afternoon, "that I was dealing with a very different caliber of man."
For these reasons and many more, the story of President Milt Glick's passing has been selected as the University's top story of 2011, in a vote of members of the divisions of Media Relations and Integrated Marketing. To be nominated, a story had to have appeared in "Nevada News" on the University website during 2011.
In addition to the passing of a president, here is the list of the top 10 stories for 2011.
The University's growth has been notable and impressive, especially considering what previous high-water marks were for the University only a few years ago.
Take the 18,000-student enrollment figure that the University reached in fall 2011. Only five years ago, the University eclipsed the 16,000-student barrier.
Or, consider the 48 National Merit Scholars who were enrolled in classes this fall. Just two years ago, the University had 28 National Merits Scholars on campus.
The numbers were not only historic. They were substantial proof that the University was doing what it does best: providing the state of Nevada with an educated workforce. In 2011, with 3,561 students graduated and a record number of freshmen having enrolled in the fall, the University, as one speaker put it during a spring Town Hall meeting, was "filling the graduation pipeline fuller."
The Wolf Pack football team's dream season of 2010 - which included a home victory over No. 24 Cal, a road victory at BYU, a stunning upset of national power Boise State and a 13-1 record - was so dreamy it actually spilled into 2011. More than 25,000 northern Nevadans traveled down Interstate 80 for the Jan. 9 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park in San Francisco against Boston College.
Senior quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Co. made sure the Pack's season ended in dream-like and not in nightmare fashion, as the Pack prevailed, 20-13.
Kaepernick, who took a knee on three straight plays before he was enveloped by Nevada fans who stormed the field following the final whistle, said the Pack's support was one of the keys to their victory. "This was the best atmosphere we've been in," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal after. "It seemed like all 42,000 fans (paid attendance: 41,063) were from Nevada."
If Colin Kaepernick, a tall, vivacious and extremely well-spoken young man, was the poster boy for Wolf Pack athletics for the better part of four seasons, then Max Alderman, a tall, vivacious and extremely well-spoken young man from Reno, was without doubt the poster boy for Nevada academics for the better part of four years as a student at the University.
During his time at Nevada, Alderman became arguably the most successful figure in national parliamentary debate history. He teamed with David Pena in 2009 to bring the University its first National Parliamentary Debate Association Tournament championship ever, and capped an historic double that year by also capturing the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence. It was the first time the same team had captured both titles in the same year. Last spring, Alderman earned the title of the top collegiate debater in the country when he was named Top Individual Speaker at the National Parliamentary Debate Association's Championship Tournament.
But that wasn't all. In November, it was announced that Alderman had earned a prestigious Marshall Scholarship. For the first time in 58 years, Alderman became the first University student to ever be named a Marshall Scholar, which is similar to the Rhodes Scholarship and includes a full-ride, two-year scholarship at any United Kingdom university.
Said Alderman, a National Merit Scholar from Reno High School: "I'm really excited. I studied in London in fall 2009, through USAC [University Studies Abroad Consortium], and loved it. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and was really a defining experience for me. I found out what I wanted to do and I really wanted to go back there and study again."
"Te be; er not te be?"
Or was it, "To be; or not be?"
Theater loves from around the globe watched and listened in the fall as "Hamlet" was staged and performed in "Original Pronunciation" for the first time in centuries, thanks to a group of international Shakespearean scholars and the Nevada Repertory Company. It was the first time "Hamlet" was presented in its original dialect since the early 1600s. An international creative team that included British superstar actor and scholar Ben Crystal, who played Hamlet, worked with University students in the production beginning in August under an agreement with the University/Resident Theatre Association.
The College of Business' part-time MBA program has always ranked among the nation's best, earning a reputation as an affordable, quality program that has produced a number of key business leaders and innovators.
But November's news was unprecedented. The program ranked No. 4 in the country in BusinessWeek's 2011 Top Part-Time MBA Programs Report. Said Kambiz Raffiee, the program's director: "I believe this is unprecedented. I don't think I have heard of any of the University's programs being ranked so highly - not in my 28 years at the University. It really makes a statement about the quality of our faculty and how hard they work to make this program one that sets the standard for other programs in the country."
In 2010, the news that the University was ranked as "Tier I" among the nation's top 100 public universities by U.S. News & World Report was history-making. It was the first time in Nevada higher education history that an institution had been so honored.
In 2011, the news that the University had again attained "Tier I" status was taken as a hopeful sign that the University's trajectory, even after record-setting budget reductions, was still clearly upward.
There are many streaks worth noting in the world, including Cal Ripken's "ironman" streak of consecutive games played in Major League Baseball, for example, which spanned 16 years.
Mere child's play, however, compared to Don Pfaff's longevity record at the University.
In May, Pfaff celebrated the completion of his 100th semester - and 50th year - of teaching at the University. By his own estimation during this time period - and remember, he's a mathematician - Pfaff has graded close to 60,000 assignments, taught close to 20,000 students and spent close to a million minutes doing mathematics instruction to students.
If that's not enough, then consider this: At 50 years of service, Pfaff has established the faculty record for longevity for the University of Nevada, Reno and the Nevada System of Higher Education as the longest-serving professor ever.
Time Magazine recently dubbed 2011 The Year of the Protestor, and students throughout the Nevada System of Higher Education made sure their voices were heard during the Nevada State Legislature's 2011 session. With record-setting budget cuts threatening higher education, about 1,300 college and university students - about half of which were from the University of Nevada, Reno - descended upon Carson City to voice their support of higher education.
The rally was a combined effort, bringing together students from all higher education institutions in Nevada, with buses traveling from as far away as Las Vegas.
"I was really pleased with the total number of students brought by all of the campuses," Casey Stiteler, president-elect of ASUN, said. "See each school there was great."
Thomas Kozel has established a reputation as one of the campus' finest researchers. The professor of microbiology and immunology in the School of Medicine has had one of the robust and productive research agendas in University history. Kozel has had many banner years at the University, and certainly 2011 will be remembered as one of his best. In February, it was announced that Kozel was part of a collaboration between the University and Immuno-Mycologics (IMMY) in Oklahoma in developing a new, rapid blood test that could lead to early diagnosis and potentially save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people stricken with fungal meningitis, a leading cause of AIDS-related deaths in developing countries. If successful, the new field test to detect cryptococcal antigen will use a drop of blood from a finger-stick or a urine sample to immediately identify the presence of the disease so treatment can begin instantly, rather than having to wait for results to be processed at a lab. Kozel developed the antibody used for the Cryptococcus test in his lab at the University. In December, it was announced that the technology transfer publication "Better World Report" featured Kozel's work for a remarkable second year in a row. In April, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health made a five-year award of $3.5 million to Kozel and his research team. The grant will support translational research to develop a new generation of tests for diagnosis of anthrax in the event of a bioterrorism attack that are rapid, simple and inexpensive.
John Trent is senior editor of news and features in Integrated Marketing