WSU Salutes Celebrates 50th Anniversary Honoring Outstanding Contributors

OGDEN, Utah – For contributions to the community and the university, 12 outstanding individuals will be honored at Weber State University’s 50th Annual WSU Salutes ceremony on Oct. 12. The public is invited to attend the free event hosted by WSU’s Alumni Association as part of Homecoming. The program begins at 7 p.m. in the Browning Center Allred Theater and will include a short biographical video of each award recipient. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 801-626-7535.

Distinguished Alumnus

Raised in Sanpete County, Mark A. Russell, who earned his Bachelor of Integrated Studies in ’87, recently retired as president and chief operating officer of Worthington Industries, a global diversified manufacturing company. Previously, he was CEO of Indalex Inc., and served in several executive roles at Alcoa Inc. Russell graduated from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School and began his career as an attorney at the Chicago-based law firm of Kirkland & Ellis. With encouragement from a mentor, Russell transitioned from law to business, which allowed him to utilize the business education he received at Weber State. A standout linebacker who signed a free-agent contract with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, Russell transferred to Weber State after playing one year at Snow College. His athleticism and intelligence caught the attention of recruiters from Stanford, California and Kansas, but in the end, Russell chose to become a Weber State Wildcat and continues to support Wildcat Athletics.

Outstanding Young Alumna

Sarah Callister Sellers, who earned her bachelor’s in nursing in 2013, cast a global spotlight on her alma mater on April 16, 2018, when, in only her second marathon race, she battled wind gusts and pounding rain to finish second in the Boston Marathon. Afterward, requests poured in from news media powerhouses near and far, making Sellers one of the most sought-after interviews in the world. At Weber State, she was a nine-time Big Sky champion and was awarded the prestigious NCAA Elite 89 award. Sellers also excelled in the classroom, maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She is the only student-athlete in Weber State history to earn Academic All-American honors three times. She is currently a nurse anesthetist in Tucson, Arizona.

Distinguished Service

Donna B. and Ralph E. Friz have enjoyed supporting the Ogden community and Weber State University for nearly six decades. Ralph earned his medical degree from Northwestern University. The couple moved to Utah in 1957 for Ralph’s medical residency at the University of Utah. In 1959, they moved to Ogden where Ralph practiced anesthesiology at McKay-Dee Hospital for 50 years. For 21 years, he directed the McKay-Dee Surgical Center. Ralph served two years in the U.S. Air Force and six years in the Utah Air National Guard. The Frizes are longtime members of the Wildcat Club and have supported athletic programs since 1959. Ralph and Donna named two rooms in Tracy Hall Science Center, created a scholarship within Academic Affairs and contributed to the renovation of the Browning Center.

WSU President’s Award

East Coast transplants and longtime Ogden residents Bob and Marcia Harris are actively engaged in the growth of Weber State University and its neighboring communities.

Bob, who earned a Juris Doctor from Creighton University School of Law and an MBA from Harvard University’s graduate school of business administration, was Thiokol’s vice president and general counsel before retiring. As a judge in the Utah state courts, Bob has decided civil cases for more than 20 years. Marcia was raised in upstate New York. She graduated in sociology from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia and completed graduate work at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Maryland. To promote and reward teaching excellence at Weber State University, the Harrises recently pledged $1 million to help create the WSU President’s Outstanding Teaching Endowment. The program recognizes exemplary faculty with cash awards and provides teaching innovation grants. Bob serves on the Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities advisory board. The Harrises have generously supported the university’s teacher excellence program, the Bonneville Chamber Music Festival, the design center, scholarships for string and piano students, study abroad programs and Wildcat women’s tennis.

Emeriti Alumni Lifetime Achievement

Richard M. “Dick” Webber, who earned an associate’s degree in ’57, is a retired real estate developer, a community activist and an Ogden ski legend who has made an indelible impression on the local ski scene. He helped design Snowbasin’s downhill course for the 2002 Winter Olympics. As a member of Weber College’s ski squad, Webber helped the Wildcats vanquish the University of Utah team in 1956 and still counts that victory among his proudest achievements. Five years ago, at age 75, Webber skied 74 mph during a super-G race to capture a silver medal in the speed category for his age division at the USSA Masters National Championships in Big Sky, Montana. Webber is a member of the community development board of Intermountain Foundation at McKay-Dee Hospital. He is also a loyal WSU benefactor. For his athletic prowess and impressive history of philanthropy, Webber was inducted into Ogden High’s athletic hall of fame in 2010.

Lewis W. Shurtliff Award for Contributions to Education

A native of Rochester, New York, Amir A.H. Jackson came to Utah in 1999 by way of the United States Air Force. Shortly after his honorable discharge, Amir enrolled in psychology courses at WSU. As a class assignment, he taught poetry to sixth-graders at an elementary school in Layton — an experience that transformed Amir’s career goals. Hoping to reach more kids and have a greater impact on the community, he founded Nurture the Creative Mind (NCM) in 2007. The organization partners with school districts, charter schools, shelters, juvenile facilities, treatment centers and other groups to help young people find value in themselves and others through creative expression like creative writing, music and visual arts. Jackson’s mantra is: The greatest gift we can give to young people is the gift of belief. To date, NCM has served more than 15,000 Utah children. Jackson has received numerous accolades for his work including the American Red Cross Heroes Recognition Award.

Emeriti Homecoming Royalty

C. Kent Russell BS ’68 and Annette Mozley Russell AS ’65, are this year’s Emeriti Homecoming Royalty. At Weber State, Annette studied education and home economics while Kent majored in accounting. Both joined campus social clubs. Annette followed in her older sister’s footsteps and pledged La Dianeda; Kent joined Excelsior and was later elected president. After graduation, Kent worked as a CPA in the Los Angeles offices of Arthur Andersen. While working for a client, Kent’s career shifted from accounting to healthcare finance administration. He retired as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Catholic Health East, a national health system which he helped build. Today, the Russells spend time in Oro Valley, Arizona, and Eden, Utah, but still feel a tremendous loyalty to Ogden. Kent currently serves on the investment committee of the WSU Board of Trustees. The Russells have funded scholarships at WSU to assist education and business students from Weber County, and recently arranged a generous legacy gift.

Student Homecoming Royalty

Jack Hyer and Michayla Jackson embody the spirit of student scholarship, leadership and service. Jackson graduated from North Sanpete High School with 28 college credits. She enrolled at Weber State after earning an associate’s degree at Snow College. Jackson is an aspiring respiratory therapist and former Miss Sanpete County. The five-time state tumbling champion was first runner-up in power tumbling at the 2014 USA Gymnastics Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Jackson recently traveled to Russia to teach English to young Russian children.

Hyer is a former WSU admissions ambassador who helped recruit new students by visiting high school and junior college campuses. His GPA has landed him on the dean’s list every semester. He has been awarded the Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities scholarship, the Abrelia Seely Hinckley Scholarship for honor students, and a Foreign Language Departmental Scholarship. Hyer, who speaks fluent Spanish, recently received the Howard F. Phillips Memorial Scholarship to participate in a study abroad program in Spain. The former high school debate champion is working toward a bachelor’s degree in Spanish teaching with a minor in English as a second language (ESL). He is the proud founder of the university’s Improv Club.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Contact:

Nancy Collinwood, Alumni Association executive director
801-626-6885 • nancycollinwood@weber.edu

Author:

Karin Hurst, Office of Marketing & Communications
801-626-7337 • karinhurst@weber.edu