Deseret News composite photo
The Utah Legislature gave the outgoing presidents of the University of Utah, Utah Valley University and Weber State University a "sweet" send-off Thursday morning, gifting each with a basket of their favorite treats and a collective standing ovation.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature's Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee gave the outgoing presidents of the University of Utah, Utah Valley University and Weber State University a "sweet" send-off Thursday morning, gifting each with a basket of their favorite treats and a collective standing ovation.

U. President David Pershing is retiring from the top administrative position he's held since 2012 to return to the university's chemical engineering faculty. His successor, Ruth Watkins, was appointed Jan. 18.

The same day, Weber State President Charles A. Wight announced he is a finalist in presidential searches elsewhere and he announced his plans to step down from the Ogden university.

The meeting room was packed with WSU alumni and supporters clad in purple who acknowledged Wight, who has served as president since Jan. 1, 2013.

UVU President Matthew Holland is stepping down because he has been called as a mission president by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission starting in July.

Holland was appointed UVU president in 2009, the first leader to hold that position after the institution attained university status in 2008.

Committee Chairman Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, noted the committee's gift to each president, baskets of chocolate doughnuts for Pershing, chocolate chip cookies for Wight and frosted animal cookies for Holland, each adorned with a ribbon representing their respective school colors.

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Holland, in a budget presentation later in the meeting, joked that the committee's kindness and generosity "compensated for the little bit of disrespect for the frosted animal cookies."

Searches are underway for Holland's and Wight's successors.

Utah Commissioner of Higher Education David Buhler said each of the presidents has made significant contributions to their respective universities.

"We're going to miss each of these presidents and wish them well as they go their various paths. They've provided great contributions to the students of our state," Buhler said.