OGDEN — Aligning university coursework with jobs in the marketplace is key to Weber State University’s mission.
That’s a major mission for the school, said University President Chuck Wright.
“Workforce alignment is the thing we pay very close attention to – to make sure our degree programs and the number of graduates in each area are well aligned with job opportunities in Davis County,” he said.
The WSU Davis campus, in northeast Layton, is not only very close to Hill AFB, the state’s largest single-site employer. It’s also near such workforce powerhouses as the Freeport Center and Freeport West.
For example, the school has provided more computer science training and resources to meet growing needs at Hill AFB, Wright said.
About 900 students are enrolled in computer science at the Davis campus, with 150 graduating annually.
“All of our electronics engineering is taught at Davis, our MBA is at Davis, as is interior design and nursing,” the president said. “A lot of the high demand, high quality job areas - those programs are at Davis,” he said.
All of that keeps the Davis campus humming at full capacity. The addition of a second classroom building last fall enabled the campus to teach more than 4,000 students.
Wright outlined the university’s three core themes, all aimed at helping not only students, but also the communities from which they come.
Those are access, learning and community.
“We serve as not only a four-year regional university but also as a community college for Davis, Weber and Morgan Counties. Most of our students are from Davis and Weber Counties,” he said.
“Our faculty takes an amazing personal focus,” Wright said in discussing the learning component. “We have small class sizes, especially at the upper division level. Our teachers are really there to meet with, and help guide our students to be successful.”
That atmosphere and commitment helps students be well-prepared to enter the workforce or continue in graduate work, he said.
Colleagues at the University of Utah, where he came from, told him “WSU students come to graduate programs so well prepared for graduate level work. It was a really heart-warming testimony to the quality education that students get here.”
Wright praised the pioneering efforts of former state senator Haven Barlow of Layton. “He helped us get a legislative appropriation to purchase land out there. There was a lot of help from donors and other members of the community.”
“It’s very bright,” Wright said of the future for higher education. “We’re very grateful to the legislature for their support this year. We had some erosion on high education funding during the economic downturn. We made a big leap in state funding this year for students.”
Wright is continuing the tradition of former president F. Ann Millner. Not only does he liked to be referred to simply as Chuck, but he likes to keep in touch with the classroom and students at that level.
This year he’s team-teaching a course in general chemistry. “I got into the business a little more than 30 years ago because I liked to teach. Why would I give that up now?” he asked.