I want to say farewell to Allison Barlow Hess. For several years, Allison has been a regular contributor to the Standard-Examiner's "Top of Utah Voices" column. Once a month, Allison, along with myself and several others, write a column for the Standard. Allison began writing for the Standard a few years before I did. When I started writing, it was suggested that I look to Allison's regular columns as an example of a good editorial. Allison wrote her last column in June.
Allison recently got a new job. For over a decade, Allison has been an instructor in Weber State University's Communication Department. She has served as a teacher and mentor to hundreds of WSU students. She recently accepted an appointment as WSU's Director of Public Relations.
As an award-winning teacher, I am certain that Allison will miss the classroom and the day-to-day interaction with students. She will also miss advising the students who work for WSU's student newspaper, The Signpost. At the same time, I can understand the attraction of accepting responsibility for WSU's public relations efforts. WSU has a great many things worth publicizing.
Last month, the new U.S. News college and university rankings were announced, and WSU was once again ranked as one of the top 20 public universities in the West. In the most recent Community College Week ratings, based upon the number of associate's degrees awarded by four-year institutions, WSU ranked eighth nationally in nursing, seventh nationally in health professions, tenth nationally in general associate's degrees, and 16th nationally for all disciplines. Within the state of Utah, WSU is the largest provider of both nursing and health professions associate's degrees.
For the fourth consecutive year, WSU was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This award is the highest national recognition a university can receive for civic engagement and service to the community.
Over the past five years, WSU has grown more rapidly than any university or four-year college in the state. Since the 2005-06 academic year, WSU has added 4,997 students. In terms of five-year growth, Utah Valley University, which is often lauded for its high growth rate, lags WSU by more than 700 students.
This fall, almost 24,000 students will enroll at WSU. More than 68 percent of these students indicate that WSU was their number one choice.
Clearly, I can understand why Allison is attracted to a job where she can promote WSU. Regrettably, Allison's new appointment as Director of Public Relations is the cause for her stepping down as a contributor to the Standard-Examiner.
It isn't that she wouldn't have the time to write columns. It just wouldn't be appropriate for someone tasked with promoting WSU to write a regular news column. I wish her the best of luck in her new job.