Dixon Awards winners are staples among WSU faculty, staff

OGDEN, Utah — Among Weber State University’s outstanding faculty and staff, two familiar faces earned this year’s H. Aldous Dixon Award. The winners were honored during a ceremony here March 27. 

Each year since 1970, the WSU Alumni Association has honored beloved members of WSU’s faculty and staff with an award bestowed in memory of President Dixon, who served as the school’s chief administrator from 1919 to 1920, and from 1937 to 1953. Dixon Award recipients have demonstrated careers of excellence and have gone above and beyond to support students.

Sara Dant, Professor and Chair, Department of History

Dant is a distinguished educator and scholar whose contributions have left an indelible mark on Weber State University during her 23-year career.

A renowned historian specializing in the environmental history of the American West, Dant has authored two books, 12 scholarly articles and numerous book reviews. She also served as a historical consultant and interviewee for Ken Burns’ recent documentary film The American Buffalo. Her latest book, Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West, received widespread acclaim, earning praise from Burns and Publisher's Weekly for its penetrating insights into human-environment interactions. She is a sought-after speaker who lectures across the country. 

Beyond academia, Dant’s commitment to environmental advocacy is evident in her role as an expert witness in legal proceedings to protect public access to Utah waterways. Her meticulous research and compelling testimony have played a pivotal role in shaping public policy.

Dant’s impact as an educator is profound. Whether teaching foundational courses in American history or exploring complex themes in environmental studies, her knowledge and passion connect with students. “I’ve had many students tell me that the skills and content they learned in my classes continue to enhance their success in life, long after they have left Weber State,” she said.

Dant has served as chair of the Department of History for the past seven years, bringing a strong focus on student success and making college accessible and inclusive. For her large History 1700 lecture courses, she adopted an open-access textbook that is available free online. 

“For more than 20 years, my office door has been wide open,” Dant said. “Students know they can come to me for help with anything from study tips to graduate school applications to sharing their post-graduation success stories.”

Outside the classroom, Dant has helped shape WSU’s academic landscape by spearheading initiatives to enhance curriculum offerings, support faculty development and foster a vibrant scholarly community. Her service extends beyond departmental boundaries, encompassing leadership roles in campuswide committees and professional organizations.

In recognition of her contributions, Dant has been honored with the Hinckley Fellow Award and a Brady Presidential Distinguished Professorship, highlighting her dedication to excellence in teaching and scholarship.

As Dant prepares to retire at the end of the semester, her legacy as a transformative educator, dedicated scholar and engaged community member will endure. 

Alan L. Ferrin, Senior Manager, Creative Academic Technology Solutions

It would be difficult to find another Weber State staff member who “bleeds purple” more than Ferrin.

The son of longtime professor Luan H. Ferrin, Alan spent his childhood exploring the education building and befriending his father’s colleagues. He attended Weber State and began working as an assistant video producer while he was a student.

When Ferrin graduated in 1995 with a degree in communication with a broadcast emphasis, he began seeking full-time employment and interviewed at several companies. “The CATS director, Alan Livingston, told me that I should stick around Weber, as they would be having a full-time position opening up,” Ferrin said. 

In 1997, he was offered that full-time job, and he has been with CATS since. In 2014, he became manager of the CATS team, where he refers to his colleagues as “creative geniuses and good friends.”

Ferrin’s deep ties to Weber State extend through his family: His wife, Mindy, is the daughter of legendary track and field coach Jim Blaisdell, and four of the couple’s five sons have graduated from or are attending WSU — so far (one is still in high school). Ferrin spends as much of his free time as possible with his family. He also enjoys creative hobbies like painting, being outdoors, and participating in religious and community service.

While Ferrin has made many contributions to academic technology at WSU as a member of CATS, his proudest academic project has been establishing COMM 3200, Live Event Production, in 2006. Recognizing the importance of providing students with real-world experience, he collaborated with communication faculty to create a course that merges classroom learning with industry practice as students broadcast Wildcat Athletics events. Many former students have gone on to event production jobs in professional and collegiate sports.

Other memorable professional accomplishments include being on the International Sports Broadcasting production crew for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. And in 2008, Ferrin was recognized with WSU’s Presidential Outstanding Professional Staff Award. 

“Any professional success that I have had or been a part of is because I am surrounded by amazingly talented individuals,” he said. “Our success is a testament to the power of teamwork and the combined talents of our Wildcat family.”


Jen Wright, Marketing & Communications 
801-726-2150, jenwright@weber.edu


Rachel Badali, news coordinator
801-626-7362, rachelbadali@weber.edu