Fall 1988, Volume 5.2
Neila C. Seshachari
Weber Studies dedicates its volume 5, numbers 1 and 2, to Weber State College on the occasion of the institution's centennial. It is pleased to participate in the year-long process of celebrating the institution's past achievements and of honing its present resources in forging newer visions to meet the changing needs of its students in its second century.
FOCUS ON WEBER STATE COLLEGE—II
On 10 June 1988, Weber State College held its 100th annual commencement exercises and stepped into its second century.
In the presence of a packed audience of dignitaries and families in the 12,000-capacity Dee Events Center, Stephen D. Nadauld, President of Weber State College, inaugurated the year-long centennial celebrations of the college even as he awarded academic degrees to over 2,000 students.
This "celebration" comes in the wake of a severe tide of fiscal cutbacks for this state-funded institution. Utah, which is con- stitutionally bound to balance its budget, is going through a prolonged economic depression. Its prospects for industrial growth are currently bleak, its birth rate is inordinately high, and its funding in all sectors including education is dwindling. Every summer, there is an exodus of Utah's new college graduates in search of jobs elsewhere.
One would not be surprised if all these were to cast an abiding gloom on the campus. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Despite doubts and disheartenment, what is phenomenal on campus in these hard times is the coming of age of the pioneer spirit, imbued with not only the instinct for survival but also the determination to succeed and excel.
In the last twelve-month period, the college administration and faculty have met, debated, discussed, and approved a new College Mission Statement which will have far-reaching impact on future planning and programs. In reworking its stated mission, its goals, its programs, and its very philosophy of education in light of changing local and global demands—in short, in this process of evaluating its role and forging its own future—the college has emerged confidently with a vision of itself that promises to launch it beyond its own dreams in its pursuit of excellence.
Even since this harrowing self-evaluation process began, there have sprung, here and there in all its eight schools, "pockets of excellence," as President Nadauld proudly calls them. These include partnership with the private sector, writing across the curriculum programs, formal alliances with schoolteachers in an effort to strengthen elementary and secondary education, and development of excellent programs in the sciences as well as liberal arts.
As the college enters its second century, there is a concerted thrust to improve its image and enhance the quality of its programs. This is not to say that the campus lacked a good image or that its programs and graduates were not valued earlier—the institution's growth and achievements in its first 100 years have been nothing short of spectacular—but this is to emphasize the continuing effort of the college to be at the cutting edge of our times.
A unique dimension of the centennial "celebration" is the Centennial Gift Campaign, which, under the direction of community leader John Hinckley, has crossed the eight-million-dollar mark in its race to reach the target of 13.1 million. Such communal efforts will ensure the nurturance of the college's "pockets of excellence" in the context of subsistence-level state funding in the immediate future. They constitute the indomitable pioneer spirit on which both this state and the college were built.
This issue of Weber Studies, with its "Centennial Wave" cover illustration, is the second number dedicated to Weber State College.
At the practical level, the idea of the centennial has injected a renewed zeal on campus and engendered new ideas, new committees such as the Centennial Planning Committee, and an outstanding calendar of events.
At the philosophical level, the centennial has given the campus a sustained, year-long occasion to think of long-range planning and possible shifts in "paradigms," which (as T. S. Kuhn says in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions ) are necessary for genuine change to occur. But not all change need be revolutionary. Actually, any change in higher education is often better when it is "evolutionary," because the evolutionary process maintains pedagogic and academic sanity of all involved in the pursuit.
Year-long "celebrations" also tend to gently coerce all campus areas to indulge in realistic self-evaluations and euphoric visions alike. But self-evaluations of needs and goals do not mean much for journals unless these are buttressed by administrative support.
Weber Studies has fared well in its "centennial scrutiny." President Nadauld included the journal in the college's "pockets of excellence" mentioned earlier in "Focus on Weber State College--II." Even more gratifying is the sanctioning of a half-time position of Editorial Assistant to Weber Studies beginning this September. I thank Academic Vice President Robert B. Smith and Dean Sherwin Howard for recognizing and meeting this need of the journal. For student Lisa Dayton and me in the Weber Studies office, this addition virtually signifies the coming of age of the journal. Things should be less harrowing, more pleasurable, and certainly more manageable with new help on board. We hope to find time to plot excellence more diligently and serve our growing readership even better.
Indeed we have been plotting already to publish an exciting series involving four writers beginning next year. When and if the project comes through, we would have realized a cherished goal, which had its origin in daydreams spawned by the ubiquitous idea of the centennial.
This issue of Weber Studies features, as did our Spring 1988 dedicatory issue, more Utah scholars and writers. We lead off with a personal essay on "missing the mark" by Kenneth W. Brewer, who is a member of our Editorial Board and who has done everything but miss the mark. His poems that follow illustrate how confidently he can dance to his own music!
Jean Bickmore White, in commemoration of the adoption of the U. S. Constitution in 1789, explores the legal position of women, who were all but excluded from civic or legal rights in the document. She points out how women used that document to wrest the limited constitutional equality they have earned in the last two centuries in court battles and through political action.
Dorothea Kehler's provocative article pointing at Desdemona's unwitting "complicity" in bringing about her own death at the hands of her husband even before their marriage was consummated will especially interest those who saw Othello performed at the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City, Utah, this summer.
Poems by James A. Minor, Rita Kiefer, Rawdon Tomlinson, and Paulann Petersen are sure to please the readers. Book reviews in this issue feature Alan Cheuse's Fall Out of Heaven and Lisa M. Steinman's Made in America: Science, Technology, and American Modernist Poets.
Finally, "Newsboy," the fiction in this issue, comes from Levi S. Peterson, who is also a member of our Editorial Board. Levi has agreed to edit Weber Studies for the next six months as I go on sabbatical leave beginning this fall. Novelist and fiction writer, Levi S. Peterson has been an editor of Encyclia: The Journal of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters and has guest edited Western American Literature for a year as well. So I bid au revoir rather literally and happily until the next fall issue.