Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:56 pm

Dixie Forum series kicks off semester with presentation on Navajo Sandstone


Dixie Forum’s opening event in the Dunford Auditorium was packed beyond capacity again.

Field Institute Director Gerald Bryant’s lecture on Navajo Sandstone drew in the crowd as he explained the geological history of southern Utah’s red mountains.

From Bryant defining geological terms to make them more understandable, to explaining the striations in the cliff walls, the audience listened as Bryant went through pictures that accompanied his lecture.

Bryant’s lecture was the first of 12 Dixie Forum lectures. John Burns, assistant librarian and Dixie Forum director said he was pleased with the turnout. 

However, by a clear majority, the attendees were from the community, with the attending students sprinkled among community members.

Many students said they attended the forum for extra credit.

Part of the reason for low student attendance is getting the information about the Dixie Forum out there, said Leslie Twitchell, a junior English major from Washington.

“I’ve heard of the Dixie Forum, but I don’t know what it is,” Twitchell said.

But not all students are in the dark when it comes to the existence of the Dixie Forum.  When asked whether he had heard of the Dixie Forum, Kyle Shaw, a senior and English major from Ogden.

“The Dixie Forum is fun and informational,” Shaw said. “You always learn something you didn’t know.”

Responses like Shaw’s are the kind that Burns is looking for in regards to the Dixie Forum.
“The Dixie Forum was created with the students in mind,” Burns said.

He said he was glad students came at least for the extra credit, but said he wished to see a more equal student-to-community member ratio.

With the desire to attract a wide group of students, Burns said he works hard to bring a diverse group of presenters to DSU’s campus.

“Being a librarian, I have many tools to research news and media outlets,” Burns said. “Many times, these [Dixie Forum] guests are found because they have been featured in some news or media piece. I take much inspiration from TED Talks and seek to find amazing people with amazing intellects doing amazing things to further humankind.” 

Burns laid out the spring semester schedule with an array of guests to draw in a variety of interests and disciplines.

Burns said he’d recommend two of the forum presenters in particular. 

Douglas S. Fudge and Theodore Uyeno are two biologists that are studying the hagfish, a marine fish that is the only known animal that has a skull and no vertebral column.  They will be presenting on Mar. 15.

Cliff Ricketts is another presenter Burns was particularly interested in highlighting.

“[Ricketts] and his students made a coast to coast voyage,” Burns said, “in a modified Toyota Prius fueled by alternative fuels.”

Ricketts will be presenting April 12.

The Dixie Forum lecture series will carry out through the semester, every Tuesday at noon in the Dunford Auditorium unless otherwise noted on the schedule.