Weber State University students had the chance on Monday at the Davis campus to hear President Charles Wight’s story on how he became successful in the administrative world and eventually became president of WSU.
Wight started off his speech with some background information about himself. Before getting hired at WSU, he taught chemistry at the University of Utah and then moved into administration.
“Two of my closest friends and mentors came to me and encouraged me to apply for it (the presidency at WSU), and that was a big change,” Wight said. “Provost jobs are very different than president’s jobs. (My wife) Victoria and I really had to think about this carefully, and decide whether this was the right thing for us. Together we made that decision to apply for this job. It’s been tremendous and world-changing for both of us.”
One of Wight’s main points was the three paradoxes of leadership: (1) “In order to become a great leader, you must be a great follower;” (2) “As a leader, you cannot control others, but you can control yourself;” and (3) “To predict the future, you have to look at the past.”
“It’s really looking at who your heroes are, who the people you look up to are, and looking at how those people behave as leaders, what leadership qualities they have and trying to adopt those qualities in themselves,” Wight said.
Business majors are required to take Business Administration 4620: Executive Lectures, which presented the lecture from Wight. These lectures are not exclusive to WSU students, though; community members and anyone else who would like to attend are invited.
“I think one of the main purposes is to expose our students to business leaders and leaders from government and the public sector,” said Bruce Davis, vice provost and dean of Continuing Education at WSU. “We want them to see examples of good leaderships. I like to talk about ethics a little bit; ethics is always a challenge for every profession. I usually ask the speakers to address ethics a little bit: What are the ethical challenges in their line of work, and how they address them. That is largely the purpose of the class.”
Stephanie Jester, a WSU student who attended the lecture, said she found the lecture useful.
“I think I gained the knowledge on how to become a great leader, and how using the skills he talked about will help you in business,” she said.
Wight said he was pleased to be able to speak for this class and be a part of the lecture series.
“I wanted them to hear about my experience with leadership opportunities and take some of those experiences and apply them to their own experiences themselves,” he said. “But there are more general aspects of leadership which I think students can benefit from, listening to my stories and listening to the stories of other guest speakers that come to the class.”
The class has presented 11 of these business lectures, and there are still more to come this semester.
“It’s a good way to get a sense of different lines of work,” Davis said. “We have CPAs, we have business attorneys on occasion, we have marketing management, accounting, finance kind of people — then a wide range of companies so they can learn about different functional specialties in business as well as different industries, which is helpful for them.”