“It is my honor, and pleasure, and pure delight to be named the 12th Weber State president,” Wight said in an acceptance speech at the public meeting in the Shepherd Union Building on Tuesday. “I’m proud to be the newest Wildcat!”
Wight thanked everyone involved in the presidential search for helping to bring this process to fruition, especially current WSU President Ann Millner.
“You have done a tremendous job in running one of the most premier institutions in Utah and in the United States,” Wight said.
Wight will remain the dean of the U of U’s graduate school until Jan. 1. He said in an interview that, when he returns to work tomorrow, his department will begin the succession process to find his replacement.
“I anticipate I will be visible on this campus for the next couple of months,” Wight said.
Wight said his main goal as WSU president will be to help more students not only graduate, but do well in their degree programs. He said he will take on at WSU the statewide goal to have 66 percent of college participation by Utahns by 2020.
“I want to make sure every student has the opportunity to come to and finish school,” Wight said.
Wight said he would like to discuss with the vice presidents the possibility of implementing a program where cohorts of students within the same majors would go through their degree programs together, all taking the same classes.
“At registration it’s like, ‘Here’s 5,000 classes — take four,’” Wight said. “I want to create a system of students supporting students being successful here.”
Wight said he hopes to give students opportunities and inspiration to be involved in the university beyond attending classes.
“It’s about student government, community engagement, research, intramural athletics, having the occasional party on campus, having more people walking around at night,” Wight said. “It’s about making this a total experience for growing and not just a place to come to class between going to work.”
Before the motions were made to appoint Wight, the Board of Regents expressed its gratitude and admiration for Millner.
“It’s a poignant moment,” said Bonnie Beesley, chair of the Board of Regents, “because we have here a remarkable and determined, thoughtful, patient, driven president in F. Ann Millner. Ann is driven by making a difference in students’ lives.”
Beesley said Millner has been an attentive and well-rounded president.
“She has built and led a solid institution,” Beesley said. “There are no holes, no crises to attend to, nothing to be fixed. The institution is strong, stable, poised and ready for the next step.”
Beesley said one of Millner’s greatest strengths is her dedication.
“She was always about students, always about Weber, and her own life seemed to come after,” Beesley said.
Millner credited the team efforts at WSU to the success the school has achieved.
“Everyone at Weber State sees the vision of the institution and has worked collaboratively to make it great,” Millner said. “We believe that, by working together, we can be a place like the ad we ran this summer — a place worthy of their dreams.”
WSU Student Association President Andrew Gardiner said Wight won the students over during the meetings yesterday.
“He just seemed like a collaborator, someone we felt our mission was supported by,” Gardiner said. “He listened to us and cared about what we wanted as students. He wanted to talk about what experience we’re having and then make adjustments.”
This year is Millner’s 31st at WSU, and she said that, after she passes the baton to Wight, she will continue to work at WSU as a professor.
“Weber is my home,” she said. “I’ll always be a Wildcat!”
Wight’s wife, Victoria Rasmussen, said she loved what she saw of WSU during a tour with David Matty, dean of the College of Science and a member of Continuing Education.
“I was so impressed when we walked around that they greeted multiple students by name and they had conversations with people,” Rasmussen said. “It just felt like such a student-centered campus . . . I’m just really, really thrilled to move here and to be a member of this community.”