Weber State University honored teacher education professor Forrest Crawford on Thursday evening with a reception and presentation on the work he’s done both for and outside of WSU. The ceremony came as a result of his decision to transition back to his full-time role in teacher education.
Crawford’s time at WSU has been lengthy. He began as an undergraduate student and even played football as a Wildcat, graduating with the class of 1975. Crawford has worked at WSU since 1977. In addition to his work in the education department as a professor of teacher education, Crawford has served as the assistant to the president for diversity and as the secretary general for the International Society for Teacher Education, a worldwide organization focused on the exchanging of ideals and pedagogies in line with teacher education.
“Dr. Crawford has been an absolutely first-rate advocate of diversity, not just at Weber State, but at state, national and international levels,” said Charles Wight, WSU president. “Forrest has been instrumental in advancing the Weber State diversity initiative, not only at the university level, but in the classroom as well.”
Luz Robles, a Utah state senator and the first Mexican immigrant to run for the Utah State Senate at 28 years old, was at the ceremony to help honor Crawford. Robles said she wouldn’t be where she was today if it wasn’t for Crawford and his influence on her life.
“That’s what motivates me to be a better public servant, to be a better citizen, to be a better mother — people like Dr. Crawford,” she said.
Fraser Nelson, the executive director of the Community Foundation of Utah, worked with Crawford at the Disability Law Center and the And Justice For All organization in Utah. Nelson said that, in addition to being a dapper dresser, Crawford pushed her to be brave and was always there to encourage and help strategize, always fighting for equality, always moving them forward in ways they could never imagine.
Nelson said that at one time, their organization was working on passing legislation for hate crimes in the state of Utah.
“There were times we were negotiating that bill with various parties, and they would say, ‘Oh, we’ll pass hate crime legislation, as long as you leave out people who are LGBT, as long as you leave out gay, then we’ll be with you,’” Nelson said. “Forrest was not only adamant that that not happen, he embraced people he didn’t know very well — communities across the state — and said, ‘We will never turn our back on one group of people to pass a piece of legislation.’”
Percy Morehouse met and bonded with Crawford at the Mountainwest Educational Equity Center at WSU and complimented his effect on the lives of others.
“Forrest is an educator and change agent who has dramatically affected the lives of others through his choices, characteristics and resolve,” Morehouse said. “Forrest was always pondering ways in which he could promote inclusive educational excellence to equal educational opportunity for all students. Forrest served his community in many ways, and in particular promoted civil rights for those individuals who were denied their civil rights.”
Adrienne Andrews has taken over Crawford’s role as assistant to the president for diversity.
“The shoes are too big, I’m just telling you now,” Andrews said, “though I’m grateful that Forrest remains here at Weber State to shepherd and guide me.”
The celebration was intended not to thank Crawford for a career completed, but to praise his diversity work and cheer him on to ever greater accomplishments going forward. The program also announced the creation of the Dr. Forrest C. Crawford Distinguished Stewardship Award, an endowment in Crawford’s name to provide scholarship opportunities for graduate students to continue pursuing their studies.
“When this is all over, I’m changing my phone number,” Crawford joked.