Weber State University President Chuck Wight plans for future of school

Feb 27 2013 - 12:38am

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WSU president Chuck Wight, who took office Jan. 2, on Monday met with the Standard-Examiner’s editorial board. Allison Barlow Hess, WSU’s public relations director, looks on.
NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/ Standard-Examiner
WSU president Chuck Wight, who took office Jan. 2, on Monday met with the Standard-Examiner’s editorial board. Allison Barlow Hess, WSU’s public relations director, looks on.
NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/ Standard-Examiner

OGDEN -- Weber State University President Chuck Wight envisions continued enrollment growth for the university, a chance to serve an underserved portion of the community and the opportunity for WSU to better connect with nonstudent members of the Greater Ogden community.

"One hundred percent of the growth in enrollment is due to minorities," Wight said in a Monday meeting with the Standard-Examiner editorial board.

"We would like to encourage them. There's not always the expectation in their families that they will attend college, and in some cases, it's expected that after high school they will enter the work force."

Education increases the chance of getting a more satisfying job and better pay, Wight said. Several programs are in place to help cut costs for needy students, he said.

Concurrent enrollment can help high school juniors and seniors get many of their basic college requirements out of the way before 12th-grade graduation, and at a very low cost, Wight said.

In addition, Wight said he hopes to draw more attention to the Dream Weber Program, which, since 2010, has provided free tuition and general student fees to many students whose annual household income is $27,000 or less. The program uses federal and state financial aid, and funds provided by program donors. For full information on the Dream Weber Program, visit the website, www.weber.edu/dreamweber.

Wight also talked about Weber State's ongoing plans to redefine Ogden as a university town, helping community members to feel more served by, and invested in, the university.

WSU administrators have been in talks with Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell to bring a part of the campus to downtown, to a building at 24th Street and Washington Boulevard. The mixed-use building would contain a campus store, with WSU logo items for sale. The site could also sell tickets to Weber State sporting events, Wight said, and provide a downtown location for students to pay tuition and buy bus passes. The building would also house other retail interests, such as an Apple store, he said.

Over time, the space could evolve into a home for some continuing education classes, Wight said. In addition, Weber State would like to bring some WSU events to downtown venues, such as Peery's Egyptian Theater, he said.

Asked what effect the Affordable Care Act would have on WSU adjunct professors, Wight answered that it would have little effect.

The act imposes a financial penalty on employers with more than 50 employees, who don't offer health insurance to their full-time workers, defined as those who average at least 30 hours of work per week.

Asked if adjunct professors' hours might be cut to avoid the need to offer them health insurance, Wight said that is not an issue for most adjunct professors.

"There won't be caps, per se, but we will consider what constitutes three-quarters employment," he said.

Wight said Weber State has roughly 450 adjunct professors, about the same number as WSU faculty members.

About 70 percent of courses are taught by faculty members, Wight said, with adjunct professors teaching the balance.

Most adjunct professors teach far less than an average 30 hours per week, Wight said.

There are only about a dozen cases of adjunct professors teaching close to three-quarters time that will have to be examined, he said.

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