OK, one more time — it's pronounced WEE-burr

Friday , April 27, 2018 - 4:00 AM1 comment

MICHAEL VAUGHAN, special to the Standard-Examiner

On the third Monday of April, Ogden native and former Weber State University track star Sarah Callister Sellers shocked the world by placing second in the Boston Marathon. Reporters asked, “Who is this previously unknown runner?” Newspapers and television stations around the world scrambled to construct a story. Who is Sarah? Where did she come from? Did Sarah previously compete in track, perhaps in college?

The clamor brought Sarah some much-deserved attention and little sleep. Yet, it also created some mix-ups. One reporter said Sarah attended Utah State University, instead of Weber State University. The ABC affiliate, KGUN, in Arizona reported that Sarah attended college in Utah without mentioning anywhere specific. Still others correctly identified that Sarah attended Weber State but then went on to mispronounce Weber State.

A few years ago, I published a primer on Weber State and how to pronounce the name. It looks like I need to publish a revised second edition because some folks are slow learners.

Sarah Callister Sellers attended Weber State University. She didn’t attend some unknown college, and she didn’t attend Utah State University. She attended Weber State. The first syllable of Weber is pronounced “WEE.” It rhymes with degree. This year, WSU will award more than 5,772 associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees — the largest class on record. WSU is one of the largest providers of undergraduate degrees in the nation.

Regarding degrees, Sarah earned hers in nursing. Nursing is a marquee program for WSU. In the most recent Community College Week ratings, based upon the number of associate degrees awarded by four-year institutions, WSU ranked sixth nationally in nursing. Within the state of Utah, WSU is the largest provider of both nursing and health-professions degrees.

The second syllable of Weber is pronounced “burr.” It goes nicely with trailblazer, as in the Portland Trail Blazers. Former WSU basketball player and current NBA All-Star Damian Lillard leads the Portland Trailblazers in both points and assists. Damian is also one of a small number of NBA players to actually earn a college degree. Damian finished what he started. Coincidently, in 2012 Sarah and Damian were Weber State’s female and male Athletes of the Year.

Weber sounds similar to entrepreneur. The university has produced scores of successful entrepreneurs, and it fosters entrepreneurship among students across the United States. In March, WSU’s Hall Global Entrepreneurship Center invited students from around the world to compete in a contest by pitching outdoor-related business ideas. Participants vied for a chance to win a $30,000 grand prize and the opportunity to be mentored by Marcus Lemonis, the star of CNBC’s “The Profit.” Eighty contestants, including entrants from outside the United States, competed by sharing innovative outdoor-related business plans.

The “ber” in Weber also rhymes with “ner” in partner. WSU’s Center for Community Engaged Learning fosters numerous creative partnerships with the community. For 10 consecutive years, the Corporation for National and Community Service has named WSU to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service. This award is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement.

Come on, guys. You better learn about Weber State. You better learn where it is located, and you better learn how to pronounce the name. I can guarantee you are going to be seeing more great accomplishments from Weber State students and alumni.

As an endnote to this piece, I will simply say well done Sarah. The community is proud. Weber State, Weber State, Great, Great, Great!

Dr. Michael Vaughan is a Weber State University economics professor and directs the Center for the Study of Poverty & Inequality. Email: mvaughan@weber.edu.

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