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College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

TODD ROSE Class of 2000

His dream: To dispel the myth of "the average"

Picture of the book The End of Average
Head shot of Todd Rose

"Human beings don’t line up perfectly. There is no average learner. They have strengths and weaknesses. They all do. Even geniuses do."

Digital illustration of points of light emminating out of a brain

From High-School Dropout to Harvard Faculty

Todd Rose came to Weber State in the late 1990s a high-school dropout with a 0.9 GPA. He had been labeled a class clown, a troublemaker, and, as he explained in his new book The End of Average, “More than one school official told my parents that they would have to temper their expectations about what I would be able to achieve in life.” 

Rose, however, felt that “something wasn’t right with [that] analysis.” “I felt sure I had something to offer; it just seemed like there was a profound mismatch between who I really was and the way the world saw me,” he wrote. 

At WSU, Rose forged his own path based on his strengths and weaknesses, and found success. Today, he is the director of the Mind, Brain, and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he leads the Laboratory for the Science of the Individual. 

Rose believes that “the average” is a mythical yardstick that hurts everyone. His mission is to dispel the myth of “the average” and help the public understand the importance of the individual.

Professor Offers Firsthand Knowledge of Syrian Crisis

Before international scholar and Syrian refugee Abdul Nasser Kaadan began teaching at WSU as a visiting international history professor, he taught at the University of Aleppo in Syria and was a orthopedic surgeon running a prosperous clinic. He has a medical degree and a Ph.D. in history of medicine. 

By 2015, life in Syria consisted of daily bombings, attacks and kidnappings. Kaadan and his wife fled their homeland to seek refuge in Turkey. 

They arrived in Utah in December 2016. In the spring of 2017, Kaadan taught courses on the history of science, the history of the Middle East and the Syrian crisis. He will continue to teach through the fall of 2017.

“Weber State is very lucky to have Dr. Abdul Nasser Kaadan as a visiting scholar on our faculty,” says Susan Matt, history department chair. “He is an internationally known scholar and a pioneer in the field of the history of Islamic medicine. His research has been groundbreaking.

“In addition to his outstanding record of scholarship, we are fortunate to have Kaadan lend a firsthand perspective on the origins and consequences of the ongoing crisis in Syria.”

Social Science Renovation Underway

After more than four decades of dutifully serving Weber State, the Social Science building is being renovated into Lindquist Hall, a showstopper facility that will provide learning opportunities for years to come. 

The building is named in honor of the Lindquist family. John E. Lindquist, president of Lindquist Mortuaries and Great Western Insurance, gifted $5 million to help the dream become reality. In addition, the Utah Legislature allocated $14 million for construction in 2017, with the intent of earmarking another $15 million in 2018 to complete the project. 

Lindquist Hall is scheduled to open to students in January 2019. 

How Does That Make You Feel?

Thanks to two WSU professors, we can now add empathy to the ever-growing list of benefits associated with reading literature. English professor Sally Shigley and psychology professor Lauren Fowler, who heads up WSU’s neuroscience program, joined forces to study a possible connection between literature and empathy. 

The study measured the psychological signs of empathy (facial muscle activity, heart rate, skin temperature) in its subjects as they read the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit. The play chronicles a woman battling stage 4 cancer. The results of the study showed that reading literature was a good way to elicit empathy because readers assumed the role of the main character. 

Shigley and Fowler have presented the study at several conferences, including one at Oxford University. It will soon be published
into a book.