OGDEN, Utah – Marie Kotter, professor and chair of Weber State University’s Department of Health Sciences, and John Knight, recently retired executive director of student life, are the recipients of the WSU Alumni Association’s 2008 H. Aldous Dixon Awards.
Both Kotter and Knight began their careers at Weber State College in 1973. In the 35 years since, they have made outstanding contributions to students, faculty and staff. They will be formally honored at a luncheon on March 18 at noon in the Shepherd Union Ballroom.
Kotter earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in medical technology from the University of Utah prior to joining the faculty of Weber State College.
Known for her leadership abilities, Kotter not only helped build WSU’s clinical laboratory sciences (CLS) program—a program that is now one of the largest and most renowned in the nation—she also became the university’s first female vice president.
When she was hired, Kotter was one of very few female faculty members. She was the only woman to serve on the faculty senate executive committee, and her involvement would lead to amazing opportunities.
In 1981, two years after earning her doctoral degree in educational psychology from the University of Utah, Kotter became Weber State’s assistant vice president for Academic Support. She was the first woman to ever hold such a high position in the state higher education system. Five years later, she became the vice president of Student Affairs.
Student Affairs was a new division at the college, and Kotter said it was similar to building the first CLS program. “My colleagues and I had to define the division and bring areas together that had never been together before.”
Under her direction, Student Affairs became a model for other universities across the nation. Many of Kotter’s policies and processes are still in use today.
After 12 years as vice president, Kotter returned to the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions to teach in the Department of Health Sciences.
A breast cancer survivor, she counts her blessings every day. WSU is among them. “This university allowed me to maximize my gifts. It’s magic here.”
For Knight, working at Weber State was also a great joy.
“There was always something to do … new opportunities, new challenges,” he said.
In his 35 years at the school, Knight served at one time or another as assistant professor of physical education, director of Campus Recreation, acting dean of students, acting director of the Shepherd Union Building, supervisor of the Student Health Center, and executive director of student life, the position he held when he retired in February.
A self-described “man with a servant’s heart,” Knight also served on a variety of committees, boards and councils.
“Service is the key in anything I’m involved with, and I tried to model that with my leadership style,” he said.
While Knight had numerous responsibilities over the years, overseeing Campus Recreation was one he enjoyed for more than three decades. Today, the well-respected, comprehensive program includes Wilderness Recreation, group fitness classes, intramural sports, and nationally competitive, non-NCAA club sports.
From day one, Knight worked to build a program that promoted not only fitness but also interpersonal relationships, critical thinking and lifelong learning.
“Today we have about 100 students working for Campus Recreation. It provides great learning experiences that they can transfer to their future careers and a great environment to make lifelong friends,” he said.
“And because faculty and staff often participate, it gives students opportunities to interact with them outside the classroom. All of these things contribute to student satisfaction.”
In 1998, Knight transitioned into the position of executive director of student life, adding housing and residence life to his list of responsibilities. He helped lay the groundwork for WSU’s University Village, and he increased the number of student rooms in Promontory Tower.
Looking back, Knight said it was the little successes he’ll always remember … “a smile on a student’s face when he just scored a point during an intramural contest, or when students return from the Mt. Ogden Hike talking about what great experiences they had.”
Named in memory of the former Weber College president, the H. Aldous Dixon Awards have been presented by the WSU Alumni Association annually since 1970 to honor faculty and staff members who have demonstrated careers of excellence and gone above and beyond the call of duty to support students. Dixon served as president of Weber College from 1919 to 1920, and again from 1937 to 1953.
The public is welcome to attend the luncheon. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased online at alumni.weber.edu or by calling the Lindquist Alumni Center at (801) 626-7535 by March 13.
Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.
Contact: Lynell Gardner, Alumni Relations director
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- John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
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