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University of Utah professor L. Jackson Newell has been named president of Deep Springs College, an exclusive liberal arts school in central California, for a three-year term.

Newell, 56, will be on leave from the U., where he is a professor of educational administration."It was the founder's idea that the president should not be a college president in the usual fashion," Newell said. "Deep Springs' president is expected to be a teacher, writer and scholar who leads a learning community."

Newell assumes his post Aug. 1, succeeding Sherwin Howard, a playwright and theater professor at Weber State University in Ogden.

"It's clearly a coincidence," Howard said of two Utahns successively taking the helm at Deep Springs. "But there is a strong Utah connection here."

The college was founded in 1917 by L.L. Nunn, who pioneered hydro-powered electricity in the West and lived in Utah when he dispatched a labor expedition from the state to build Deep Springs.

"A lot of the school's older graduates came from Utah," Howard said.

Newell graduated from Deep Springs in 1959 and taught there in the 1960s before joining the U. faculty in 1974.

The school lies in an isolated valley of the Sierras about 30 miles south of Bishop, Calif. Newell will oversee the education of about 27 students annually, who typically score among the top 1 percent in the national SAT test and show exceptional writing skills.

Students don't leave Deep Springs Valley during the term, and television signals do not reach the remote school.

"The atmosphere for learning is intense," Newell said.