WSU's new president moves in, reveals 100-day plan: Lots of listening
OGDEN, Jan 03, 2013 (Standard-Examiner - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
New Weber State University President Chuck Wight traveled light for his first day on the job Wednesday.
He brought in a few sentimental reminders of his 28 years as a chemistry professor and administrator at the University of Utah.
His vintage junior chemistry set, like the one that set him on his career path during boyhood, went into a glass-doored cabinet. So did a wooden gavel, a colleague's gift after Wight retired as president of the U of U faculty senate.
But on the desktop in Wight's small office sit items directly related to his Weber State University future: a journal for recording thoughts and seeds of ideas; a short stack of ties in Weber State purple; and a universityissued mail inbox, already overflowing.
"The inbox rivaled my moving box for how full it was," Wight said with a laugh.
Wight, who was born Charles but has always gone by Chuck, was named to the position in early October after a nationwide search to replace F. Ann Millner, who in spring 2012 announced her intention to leave the position after a decade of service.
Reporters immediately pushed Wight to reveal his plans for Weber State, but he resisted, saying he had a lot to learn about the school first.
Asked again Wednesday, Wight revealed his 100-day plan.
"For the first 100 days, I'm going to do more listening than talking," Wight said, smiling.
"And anyone who knows me well knows how hard that will be. But it's very important for anyone coming into a job like this to listen. You can't know what may need to be changed if you don't listen."
Wight has visited campus recently for several events, including a holiday fete sponsored by the Ogden OUTreach Resource Center and WSU's Center for Diversity and Unity.
Wight said every time he has visited Weber State, he has left more impressed with what is going on and believing that Weber State is headed in the right direction.
He said he has no plan to try to transform WSU into another version of U of U.
"They are very different schools, and that would not be appropriate."
Wight, 57 and a Virginia native, said saying goodbye to friends at the University of Utah was harder than he expected.
"It was a little emotional," he said. "And cleaning out my offices was hard. I saw papers with names of people I haven't seen for almost 30 years. There were all kinds of memories of students and professors I worked with. This job is going to be completely different from the jobs I've had in the past."
Except for the few items that made it to Wight's new office, the contents of his two U of U offices went to his new home, south of campus. He's grateful for the storage and the built-in book cases there, he said.
Wight -- a marathon runner who is also a pilot who volunteers for charities -- said his wife, Victoria Rasmussen, is excited about being more active and supportive in the WSU community. She even found and purchased two purple dresses, Wight said.
"I did see a man's suit for sale that was entirely purple," Wight said. "But I thought, 'No. No.' It seems like there are more appropriate purple accessory choices for a woman than for a man."
Wight does plan to make use of the purple ties on days when he's not wearing brown suits. On brown-suit days, he will wear a WSU tie pin.
"I'm not sure if purple goes with brown," Wight said.
"One thing I do know for sure is that I can never match Ann Millner and the high bar she set with her purple clothing. I could never top Ann."
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