Weber State University professor Kathleen “K.” Stevenson was awarded an Ogden City Mayor’s Award in art education on Nov. 1.

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(Weber State University Department of Visual Arts & Design)

Each recipient was honored with a custom-made award, designed and built by Lauren and James Argo with the Industrial Arts and Design.

Stevenson was recognized by Michael Vaughan, a professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality at Weber State University.

Stevenson and Vaughan worked together in 2001, when he invited her to teach an assignment in his class where they talked about the visualization of data.

Stevenson tries to teach in a way that people can emotionalize and feel passionate about something that is usually very mathematical.

“That’s really what it’s about and why the arts are so important for everything we do,” Stevenson said. “They really help people internalize and experience something in a different way that otherwise might just be very scientific or very cognitive.”

Stevenson’s influence in the community through the arts continued to 2008 when she began the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program pilot in collaboration with Brent Rhodes at James Madison Elementary.

According to Stevenson, attendance at James Madison went up nearly 50 percent.

“We were essentially trial running stem to steam and it went super well,” Stevenson said.

However, WSU was not the first college to incorporate the Sorenson Legacy Foundation. The University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Utah State University, Southern Utah University and Westminster College have similar endowments, according to the Deseret News.

“Out of all the other universities that the Sorensen Foundation had placed in endowments, we developed a program that got big enough that the state legislature got involved,” Sorenson said.

The $3 million gift from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation also broke a WSU record.

“It’s the largest endowment that our college has gotten in history,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson’s influence continues as she collaborates with Nurture the Creative Mind to give students of both organizations the opportunity to work with artists and create Movable Murals. These murals have been placed throughout the Downtown area.

Stevenson helped raise student attendance, expand a growing art program and earn Weber State’s Art and Humanities the largest endowment seen yet.

“My part in all this was only bits and pieces, here and there, and coming together with community activists and colleagues on campus to really make these various things happen,” Stevenson said. “I feel like I’m just a relatively small part of it all but just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

 

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