Presenter’s Office future uncertain as it seeks to replace adviser

The recent resignation of Presenter’s Office adviser Jenny Thomas has left some wondering about the future of the Associated Students of the University of Utah’s programming division.

Thomas, who worked for the office for more than six years, was in charge of both advising and aiding the students who worked there. Perhaps more important, however, were her connections and expertise within the entertainment industry, according to those who worked for her.

“There aren’t connections between the industry and the U Presenter’s Office. The connections were with Jenny,” said former Concerts Chairperson Sean Marcotte.

Emily Justice, director of the Presenter’s Office since last November, disagrees.

“We’ve received a large number of calls from groups we’ve worked with telling us that they still want to do business with us,” said Justice. “Sure, we’ll have to rebuild some connections, but in general things remain unchanged.”

ASUU president Alex Lowe has created a search committee to find someone to take on Thomas’ duties.

These duties include working with local businesses, bidding for acts and negotiating contracts. Some are skeptical that students will be able to make the transition effectively.

“They’re running around like chickens with their heads cut off over at the office,” said former Performing Arts Chairperson and Chronicle page designer Brooke Behunin. “They don’t know what to do.”

Thomas’ resignation could be another sign of the division that has existed at times between ASUU and the Presenter’s Office since its creation in 1997.

“ASUU structure is always changing,” said Thomas. “There were difficult circumstances for some in the Presenter’s Office.”

Some of these difficulties arose after last January’s reorganization of the Presenter’s Office. There were a variety of opinions as to whether the restructuring was a positive move, or even if it was done in an ethical matter.

“Before Christmas break, ASUU mentioned some possible changes that we would discuss in the future,” said Marcotte. “But when I came back in January, everything had already been done without our input. That didn’t really help establish a rapport between the two bodies.”

According to Justice, unity, not tension, between ASUU and Presenter’s Office resulted from the changes.

“People in the office have been here three or four years and are used to doing things a certain way,” Justice said.

“Individual roles changed, but there was more interaction and communication between the office and ASUU.”

Whether Thomas’ resignation will be a positive or negative turn for the office remains to be seen. For now, however, a split exists between those who supported it and those who did not.

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