Weber State will stick with its tradition and mission - its commitment to learning - said Paul Thompson during his inauguration ceremony Friday as the school's first university president.
About 1,200 people attended the ceremony that included speeches by Gov. Norm Bangerter and Commissioner of Higher Education Wm. Rolfe Kerr.Formal activities began in the morning with the inaugural ceremony followed by a luncheon, reception, dinner and concert. The event cost the university around $20,000.
Before Thompson addressed the audience during the ceremony, his wife, Carolyn, placed the Presidential Medallion around his neck. In handing the medallion to Mrs. Thompson, Utah Board of Regents Chairman Douglas Foxley said the regents had full confidence in Thompson as the new president of Weber State University and that Thompson had the leadership capabilities to lead the university into the 21st Century.
Thompson, a 51-year-old Ogden native and former vice president of development and university relations at Brigham Young University, said he selected a cold January day for his inauguration because Jan. 7, 1889, was the day the university was founded as Weber Academy.
He also said he chose that day because as of Jan. 1, Weber State College officially became a university.
Thompson was named the new president in July, replacing former president Stephen D. Nadauld, who resigned to work at Bonneville Pacific Corp.
"During the past two weeks, we have held a number of activities marking the transition to university status," said Thompson. "On this day, we are here to honor the institution and the community that has nurtured it through the years, and not just one person."
Thompson attended Weber State, then went on to earn his bachelor's degree in economics at the University of Utah. He earned both his master's and doctor's degrees in business administration at Harvard University.
The new president stressed that the university will remain committed to teaching undergraduate students of all ages and races while expanding a partnership with organizations, private business and government.
He reassured the audience that Weber State would remain a learning institution.
"Weber State will not become a research university in the near future, at least not while I am president here," he said. "Utah does not need another research university, since we already have two such quality schools within the state."
Thompson said he would like to instill in the faculty and students that learning is a lifetime activity, not only for preparing for a job, but also to help us enjoy all aspects of life.
"I feel very strongly that education is not merely preparation for the world of work; it is preparation for life, of which one's work is only a part," he continued.
Thompson also stressed that education should be a learning experience that is both "broad and deep," because there is so much to learn. He emphasized a need to get a well-rounded education in liberal arts. "A broad education will provide a much better foundation for a lifetime of work," he said.
The new president also said that learning is a multicultural activity and that students should expand their education by turning their interests globally.
"We owe it to our students, to ourselves and to our community to see our situation in global perspective," he explained.
Gov. Bangerter said he was pleased to sign the bill that gave Weber State university status and that the school should keep its mission to "teach, challenge and encourage" students.
He also said that Thompson is uniquely qualified in that the new president has a sound background in business and academics.
Kerr said officials in higher education have "full confidence and support" of the new president. "It's a glorious chore to welcome you," said Kerr.