Dedicated to the late professor John Fritz, the Cultural Commons in the center of the new Instruction and Administration Building (IAB) on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus is a place where students, staff and faculty can study, discuss and generally mingle.
“What John envisioned was a space that would be a shared space, a shared resource, for exhibits, permanent and temporary, for gatherings of all kinds, informal and formal,” says John McCormick, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science. “Where the acknowledgement and the exploration and the celebration of the increasingly diverse and vibrant cultures that make up both Salt Lake Community College and the larger community could take place.”
Fritz was the department chair at SLCC for history and anthropology. One of a handful of experts in the United States in ethnography of Western Native American people, Fritz worked on various projects throughout his life protecting native lands from destruction.
“He worked with the Ute, Coyote, Shoshone, Sioux and Navajo people to give them a voice and to help them protect their cultural heritage and resources,” said Cynthia Bioteau, president of SLCC during her dedicatory speech.
The Cultural Commons area was the idea of Fritz.
He envisioned an area where anyone from any culture, background or ethnicity could come together and share ideas. Fritz’s philosophy about people and life has left an impression upon, not only on his students, colleagues and family, but now upon the school itself.
“You know, as an ethnographer, John lived with cultures to understand them and yet kept an objectivity about him in order to be able to tell the story of that culture,” says Bioteau. “That’s what John envisioned for this space, the Cultural Commons. This is a place for all of us to gather in celebration of inclusive cultural conversations.”