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Remembering Linda S. Bender

Linda BenderLinda Bender came to work at Weber State University (WSU) in 2008. She worked as a valued member of the IT Division for the past 14+ years. Linda passed away on November 23, 2022, at the age of 63, surrounded by family and friends. In memory and in honor of Linda, a Celebration of Life was held at WSU with family, friends/colleagues on December 20, 2022. 

Linda had a love for baseball and if you talked about the sport with her, she would share her passion for the L.A. Dodgers. Linda was able to watch her team dominate the majors in 2022, “winning a franchise record of 111 games during the regular season. Los Angeles became just the fifth team ever to win that many games” ( We are thrilled that Linda was able to watch her L.A. Dodgers make such a feat!

Linda loved working in the IT Division at WSU and cared for everyone professionally and personally. She was meticulous in all the finance office work and ensured the IT staff complied with the campus and division needs. She was loved by many within the division and throughout campus. 

Linda had a very kind and caring heart. She was loved by all. If you talked sports with Linda, especially about baseball (LA Dodgers) she would talk your ear off. She loved her job at Weber State University. Linda was always working behind the scenes making sure everything was done right. Ironically, her favorite color from childhood was purple so Weber State University was the perfect place for her to work.

Dr. Bret Ellis

"Linda embodied loyalty, dedication, efficiency, thoroughness, and much more. She kept the IT Division in order and was not afraid to go against the grain and say "No" when needed. She loved the division and wanted it to be successful, which was apparent in everything she did. We knew her secret boyfriend was Tommy Lasorda and she enjoyed listening to Toby Keith. We will miss Linda, both professionally and personally."

 - Dr. Bret Ellis, Vice President of Information Technology


We want to thank all her friends and coworkers for their support during the fight with Cancer. Thank you, Heidi, for all you did for our sister and Aunt. Thank you, to all at McKay Dee Hospital and McKay Dee Cancer Center, for taking such good care of our sister and Aunt.

Linda will be greatly missed!

Digital Transformation at WSU

The IT Division’s Communication Events Training and Education (CETE) team includes Ty Naylor, Kyle Peterson and Briana Scroggins. The team helps with marketing, events and communication for the IT division and also assists faculty and staff campuswide in training opportunities.

Weber State is in the majority of the 71 percent of colleges and universities currently engaged in developing a digital transformation strategy ( A portion of the digital transformation focuses on extended reality (XR), which includes virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). CETE has collaborated with faculty members to bring digital experiences to their classrooms.

Weber State’s Digital Fluency Faculty in Residence, Stephanie Speicher, has utilized VR in her Introduction to Women and Gender Studies and Exploring Teaching classes. The VR experience used in those classes allowed sets of two students to test their communication and collaboration skills by working together to disarm a bomb in the "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes" application. The student in the VR headset has to describe the bomb to the other student with the bomb-defusing manual. The manual has specific steps the student in the VR headset must take in order to effectively disarm the bomb within 5 minutes. This experience helps students understand how to effectively share one’s point of view and overcome communication barriers. 

Stephanie Speicher

"This was a distinct immersive experience, as it allowed the content we were exploring in class to come to life in a way the textbook or traditional lecture could not provide. The VR experience thrust students to communicate strategically and solve problems creatively. Also, this class session had the best attendance than any other class over the course of the semester - a point of reflection on my part as a faculty member and how these immersive digital experiences entice students to come to class, participate, and be attentive to their peers. Virtual reality has numerous applications across disciplines, generating excitement and curiosity. It broke down barriers to allow students to connect in ways not typically present in higher education classrooms."

 - Stephanie Speicher, Assistant Professor: Teacher Education

Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Aminda O'Hare, challenged her perception class to face their fears safely by using VR to walk on a plank at the top of a skyscraper in "Richie's Plank Experience.” One student responded in a survey questionnaire, "It was a fun class. It's an excellent lesson because you can experience it firsthand."

IT Communications team testing virtual realityAssociate Professor and Chair in Teacher Education, DeeDee Mower, brought a completely different VR experience to her Elementary Social Studies Method class. "Traveling While Black" is a VR documentary film that allows participants to view segregation firsthand and hear the tragic experience of Tamir Rice's mother, Samaria. One student responded in a survey questionnaire, "this is a great way to add emotion and feeling to a lesson."

Professor of Political Science and Director of the Walker Institute, Dr. Leah Murray, provided students an opportunity to interview and debate in a mock press conference using avatars in her Campaign and Elections class. First, students watched Ron DeSantis' victory speech and then took turns playing the role of DeSantis' campaign manager or reporters from various news outlets. One student responded in a survey questionnaire, "I love the idea and think [VR] could be a great addition to a teacher's toolbox."

Of the Weber State University (WSU) students who participated in a VR experience in Fall 2022, sixty (60) percent of survey respondents said they strongly agree that using VR in class increased their understanding of the topic being taught: "Please make this widely available to professors at WSU and easily accessible at every building at WSU."

Of the students surveyed, seventy-three (73) percent said they strongly agreed they would like to see more VR experiences in their classes at WSU. Students are excited to see how VR can help teach them in the classroom.

Suggestions include:

  • seeing how exposure therapy works in psychology
  • exploring molecules in chemistry
  • experiencing different cultures and travel
  • public speaking or teaching in front of a room full of people and practicing quick responses to various stimuli in criminal justice 

If you would like to see how XR experiences can be utilized in your classroom, email