The University is known colloquially as "the U." This stands for both University and Utah, and lends its format to the nickname for in-state rival, Brigham Young University, which is known as "the Y." The U. is the flagship Research I institution of Utah, and is one of 10 institutions that make up the Utah System of Higher Education.
The University's School of Computing has made several important contributions to the field. In 1968, the University joined with the University of California, Los Angeles, SRI (at Stanford University) and the University of California, Santa Barbara to form the first four nodes of the ARPANET, direct ancestor to today's Internet. Other accomplishments include the first method for representing surface textures in graphical images, the Gouraud smooth shading model for computer graphics, invention of magnetic ink printing technology, the Johnson counter logic circuit, development of the oldest algebraic mathematics package (REDUCE) still in use, and the Phong lighting model for shading with highlights. The school has pioneered work in asynchronous circuits, computer animation, computer art, digital music recording, graphical user interfaces, and stack machine architectures. Companies founded by faculty and alumni include Adobe Systems, Ashlar, Atari, CAE Systems, Centillium Technology,Cirrus Logic, Word Perfect, Evans and Sutherland, Myricom, NeoMagic, Netscape Communications Corporation,Pixar, Pixal Plane, PlanetWeb, and Silicon Graphics.
The University of Utah's School of Medicine is respected as one of the region's finest with several notable achievements, and the University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics has consistently ranked as "Best Hospital" by U.S. News & World Report. In 1970, the school established the first Cerebrovascular Disease Unit west of the Mississippi River. In 1982, Barney Clark received the world's first permanently implanted artificial heart, the Jarvik-7, during an operation performed by William C. Devries, M.D. Clark survived 112 days with the device. The campus houses both the Huntsman Cancer Institute, one of the premier cancer research centers in the country, and the Moran Eye Center, an ophthalmic clinical care and research facility. Areas for which the school is often praised include cardiology, geriatrics, gynecology, rheumatology, pulmonology, oncology, orthopedics, and ophthalmology.
The University is well known in the field of biology for its unique contributions to the study of genetics. This is in part due to the heavy emphasis placed on genealogy by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which is headquartered about 4 miles from the University. Local members of the Church are an asset to researchers who are able to use family records to trace genetic disorders through several generations.
In 2002, the University hosted some Winter Olympic events, including the opening and closing ceremonies. Prior to the events, the University received a facelift that included extensive renovations to the Rice-Eccles Stadium, a light rail track leading to downtown Salt Lake City and an array of new student housing (first used by the Olympic athletes) at nearby Fort Douglas.
Some consider the University a "commuter campus" as many students commute from all over the Salt Lake Valley and even from Davis County to the north and Utah County to the south. However, parking at the University has gone from bad to worse as the administration continues to sell far more parking permits than there are parking spaces.
The University is spread out along a corner in the foothills of the towering Wasatch Mountains overlooking Salt Lake City across to the Oquirrh Mountains.
The University, as many do, has public broadcasting entities: