Ruth Watkins

President’s Message: Student Innovation @ the U 2021

Innovation and entrepreneurism is a distinctive characteristic of the University of Utah and of our state. Our students ask questions that are the root of all good ideas: Why not? What if? What would happen if I?

And then they work hard to answer those questions and to develop the possibilities that surface.

The outcome of that exploration: New discoveries, products, and proposals. This report from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute highlights some of our students’ stories. Of course, failure is often a necessary prelude to success. But our students are resilient. They persist. They try again — and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is there every step of the way with the support, advice, and mentorship students from all parts of our campus need to see a big idea through from start to finish.

Innovation is hard work, period. What makes these students’ accomplishments even more remarkable is their unwavering passion and commitment in the midst of a pandemic that upended all aspects of their lives, from coursework to campus engagement. The stories shared here should inspire you and, more importantly, give you confidence that these wise, thoughtful, and spirited students are leading us forward even in a time such as this.

On a personal note, this will be my final letter as president in the “Student Innovation @ the U” report. It has been such a pleasure to watch the growth and development of our student entrepreneurs. Pierre Lassonde and his namesake Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute have set the bar high for how to successfully challenge and then lift bright, young scholars and entrepreneurs as they imagine and turn their dreams into reality. I will always celebrate — and share — the incredibly good work that happens here.

Ruth Watkins, president, University of Utah

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