Weber State University and the city of Ogden were selected to receive the annual Larry Abernathy Award at the 2015 International Town & Gown Association conference.
The announcement was made on Tuesday in Washington D.C. at the ITGA conference. The award recognizes Weber State and Ogden for their exceptional collaboration in forming a college town experience.
“The National Town & Gown group tries to bring cities and colleges closer together and work together on economic development initiatives, student life, and safety,” said Ogden Mayor and Weber State alumnus Mike Caldwell. “It’s a combination of those different things that we’ve worked really hard on in the last three years.”
Together, the city and university organized an application which highlighted the programs and features of Ogden and Weber, including their partnerships, community events and support of local businesses. The application also emphasized the College Town Initiative, a partnership between Ogden and Weber State that has formalized their positive collaboration through the signing of a charter and vision statement.
“This College Town Initiative with Ogden City is the linchpin in our recent efforts to nurture the university’s ongoing relationship with our region,” WSU President Chuck Wight said in a press release. “I am delighted that Weber State and the city have been recognized with this award.”
As part of the award, $1,000 was given to the university and the city by the ITGA. The money will be added to the funds of the Weber State University Dream Weber program.
Since 2014, the Dream Weber program has worked to provide students who have an annual household income of $40,000 or less with free tuition and general fees.
As a former Weber State student, Caldwell has been working on helping graduates realize that there are many job opportunities available in Ogden. He hopes to work with WSU to inform students of their options.
“When I graduated from Weber State, I did not look necessarily at Ogden as a real, right place to come find a good high paying job and high quality of life,” Caldwell said. “And I thought that really needs to change. I want (graduates) to know there are lots of unique opportunities here.”
But the collaboration between WSU and Ogden will continue. The meetings and outreach will continue between Weber State and Ogden, as well as expand to include other local communities. Caldwell said that WSU and Ogden have also reached out to Hill Air Force Base and the city of Layton to continue to expand their collaboration.
“To have people from the outside measuring us against much more well-known colleges and for us to rise to the top is a great credit to the commitment we all have to this,” Caldwell said.