Over half a century after attending what was once known as Weber College, James and Joan Hurst will be crowned as Weber State University’s homecoming king and queen on October 13thby WSU Salutes.
According to Lynell Gardner, executive director of the WSU Alumni Association, the 43rd annual event will honor “outstanding alumni and friends of the university” through a composition of inspiring short films.
If there is any evidence of WSU being a launch pad for success, it is in the stories of its alumni.
One of James and Joan Hurst’s most memorable contributions was when they served as members of the WSU Emeriti Alumni Council in 2003 and spearheaded what they called the “Greatest Generations Project” and subsequently brought together over 500 people for a tribute to WSU’s World War II veterans.
Among those honored that day was former First Lieutenant E. LaMar Buckner, who has also proved to be an exemplary graduate of Weber not only by flying 23 combat missions, but also in his subsequent life’s work. An entrepreneur at the age of 24, he started an insurance business with his father.
“It has grown and we’ve been pleased at the success…,” said Buckner. “I did that all my life until later I was called to many positions in the LDS Church. I was the first stake president of the Weber College Stake when it was organized.”
Later, Buckner became a church mission president in Sacramento, California and afterward was called by the president of his church to be the president of the Ogden Temple. He eventually also served as president of the Alumni Association in 1958 and 1959. He advises students to never delay their education and to be open to taking a variety of classes, as it provides “a basis for a broader knowledge about the world.”
“I think my overall experience at Weber gave me a real foundation for life,” said Buckner. “I was on the Board of Regents for a few years after I’d served in the legislature for 10 years, and I can see as we learned about the other schools in the state of Utah that Weber can carry its own with any program.”
James Hurst said the same of Weber, recalling the time he spent at the prestigious Duke University.
“Again, here I’d had all my education in Utah and I was wondering… how is my education going to back me up there? I went to Duke and learned that my preparation matched all of the other graduate students, and faculty members for that matter… I hearkened back to the preparation at Weber. It was solid.”
Joan Hurst praised Weber as well, claiming that the training, opportunities for on-campus employment, and her involvement with social clubs such as the La Dianaeda sorority allowed her to acquire a good job and gain meaningful friendships.
“…Come and be as involved in campus as (you) can…,” Hurst advises students. “There are so many opportunities in the Union and elsewhere on campus to be involved. That’s where you’ll have some good experiences that’ll be life-long… and a good opportunity to make connections that will be important.”
In addition to the award of homecoming king, James Hurst will be presented with the Emeritus Lifetime Achievement Award for taking his education from Weber and using it to “launch a career in helping students on many campuses,” according to Gardner who cited Hurst’s time as vice president of student affairs at the University of Wyoming. There, he was recognized by the governor of Wyoming who declared a statewide “James C. Hurst Day,” in part for helping the community heal following the brutal murder of student Matthew Shepard.
WSU Salutes will also honor several other alumni on October 13, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information about the event, visit www.alumni.weber.edu.