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Charles Wight named 12th president of WSU

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9 2012 5:50 p.m. MDT

Charles Wight, left, associate vice president at the University of Utah, was named Tuesday as the new president of Weber State University. At right, Dimitri Kusnezov, director of the Office of Advanced Simulation and Computing at the National Nuclear Security Administration within the U.S. Department of Energy, speaks during a presentation to honor the U.'s Center for the Simulation of Accidental Fires and Explosions Jan. 7, 2009.

Jeremiah Stanley, Deseret News

OGDEN — Expressing his "pure delight" at becoming Weber State's newest Wildcat, Charles Wight was named as the university's 12th president Monday by the Utah Board of Regents.

Wight has been serving as associate vice president and dean of the graduate school at the University of Utah.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to lead Weber State University in its next phase of development," Wight said. "Having spent the last 28 years as an educator and administrator at the University of Utah, I am excited to assume a position of leadership at Weber State University and help guide its mission of providing students with personalized learning experiences that will help them become responsible, educated members of their communities."

Wight said his primary goal as president will be Weber State's contribution to Gov. Gary Herbert's goal of having 66 percent of Utahns holding a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2030.

All of Utah's colleges and universities are working toward that goal, he said, but WSU has perhaps a greater role to play than other schools in reaching out to new students and preparing them for the workforce because of the university's community focus and the economic demographics of the Ogden area.

To that end, Wight said his administration will be focused on increasing both enrollment and graduation rates. Too many students, he said, are failing to reach the end of their coursework.

"The most important thing is to make sure students are successful in their degree programs," Wight said.

Another focus of his presidency, Wight said, will be the continued implementation and advancement of technology in education. In his role at the University of Utah, he was involved in technological research, as well as overseeing tech support on campus.

Wight said he brings with him a knowledge of what other universities are doing and what can and cannot be done with technology.

Wight replaces Ann Millner, who announced her resignation in March after 10 years of service. At the time of her appointment, Millner was the first woman to be president of a public university in Utah.

Millner presided over a period of substantial growth for the university, which included additions in degree offerings and a 46 percent jump in enrollment since fall 2007, according to university spokeswoman Allison Hess.

At the time of her resignation, Millner said she had always intended to serve as president for roughly a decade. Prior to her appointment, she worked for 20 years at various positions at the university.

Millner will continue to serve as president until the end of the calendar year, at which point she will assume a role teaching health administration classes at WSU.

"This is home. I'll always be a Wildcat," she said. "I'm going to keep running until we pass the baton, but I'm excited to pass the baton."

Before naming Wight as president, Board of Regents Chairwoman Bonnie Beesley thanked Millner for her service, listing several of the university's accomplishments during her tenure and drawing a standing ovation from the capacity crowd in the Shephard Union ballroom.

"We have here a remarkable legacy president in the best sense of the word," Beesley said. "There are no holes, no crises to attend to, nothing to fix. The institution is strong, stable, poised and ready for the next step."

The Board of Regents selected Wight from a pool of four finalists, including Kathryn Cruz-Uribe, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at California State University, Monterey Bay; Kim Hunter Reed, chief of staff of the Louisiana State Board of Regents; and Michael Thomas, president and CEO of the New England Board of Education.

Regent Robert Marquardt, chairman of the selection committee, said the board received nearly 50 applications for the position.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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