David Pershing has been a fixture on the University of Utah campus for 35 years, teaching heat transfer and fluid mechanics to undergraduates, running the engineering college, guiding the U.’s academic and cultural life, and studying simulated blasts and fires.
All of that was just a warm-up for what awaits Pershing as he prepares to move into the presidential suite in March.
His to-do list as U. president-elect is lengthy: Fix the university’s decrepit utilities. Shore up graduation rates. Keep tuition in check. Recruit more top-flight students. Connect the university with the entire state. And, of course, get the Utes to the Rose Bowl. As the long-serving VP for academic affairs, he had already launched some of these initiatives, which got a boost after the U. was invited to join the Pacific Athletic Conference in 2010.
One thing Pershing wants to stop is the flight of high-achievers to schools in other states and to Brigham Young University. But that means making it more difficult to get into the U.