Brady Presidential Distinguished Professors

The Weber State University designation of Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor recognizes and rewards faculty members who have displayed an incredible dedication to teaching and education.

Faculty members are nominated by current or past WSU colleagues, administrators and/or students. Nominees are screened and evaluated by a selected group of senior faculty and academic administrators appointed by the provost. The finalists are recommended by the president of the university to the Board of Trustees for approval.

Each professor receives a cash prize of $16,000, payable over four years, which may be used to further professional academic goals. Honorees also will retain the Presidential Distinguished Professor title throughout their tenure with the university. Upon retirement from WSU, "emeritus" will be added to the end of the title.

The honor was established in 2006 as a way to recognize WSU faculty members who have demonstrated the highest quality teaching, scholarship, research and community service. A generous gift from Rodney and Carolyn “Mitzi” Brady made funding for the recognition possible. The late Rodney Brady served as WSU president from 1978-85.

2019 Brady Presidential Distinguished Professors

Two Weber State University professors, acclaimed for contributions to their disciplines of political science and string studies have been named Weber State University’s 2019 Presidential Distinguished Professors. Leah Murray, political science professor and Shi-Hwa Wang, director of strings studies and professor of violin/viola were recognized officially during commencement April 26. 

Leah Murray

According to Washington Monthly's College Rankings, Weber State University is one of the nation's best schools atencouraging students to vote. For Leah Murray, civic engagement is a passion, which she has shared with her students, the university and the community.

Murray earned her Ph.D. in political science at the University at Albany. In 2002, she joined WSU’s Department of Political Science & Philosophy, where she has taught a broad range of courses, including Political Behavior, Identity Politics and the American Presidency. The College of Social & Behavioral Sciences selected her as an endowed professor in 2017.

Committed to deepening political participation on campus, Murray helped launch and coordinate the American Democracy Project (ADP) in 2004. Under her direction, student volunteers bring a full slate of national, state and local experts to discuss community issues of concern. She has also served as ADP National Steering Committee chair.

Murray directs WSU’s Constitution Week events and is part of a collaboration that conducts election-day polling and voter registration outreach both on and off campus. During the 2016 presidential election, she helped organize a “Rock the Vote” concert in conjunction with the Ogden City Twilight Series. More than 700 people attended, and all were encouraged to register and to vote by WSU student volunteers. 

To encourage lifelong engagement, Murray helped collaborate and create WSU’s Civitas program — a specific designation for civically engaged scholars. Students who demonstrate distinction in four areas of civic engagement earn the phrase “non sibi, sed civitas” (not for self, for community) on their transcripts, an idea she has presented at several regional and national conferences.

A highly sought-after presenter and commentator, Murray has made many appearances on local television and radio programs, and shared her passion and understanding of democracy and the political process with various community groups.

Her scholarship includes two books: “American National Government” and “Politics and Popular Culture.” She has also authored seven book chapters. Murray accepts the responsibility to educate students to become and stay active, informed, civil participants in the political and electoral process in order to prepare them to emerge as Utah’s future leaders.


Shi-Hwa Wang

Shi-Hwa Wang is the director of strings studies and professor of violin/viola at Weber State University.

In demand as a violin teacher, he has established himself as an active recruiter of high-caliber students who have routinely won the concerto, solo and chamber music competitions at the state, regional and national levels. Wang has had seven national finalists in the Music Teachers National Association national competition, 21 first-place state strings competition winners in Utah and 30 WSU Concerto Night competition winners. Several of his violin students have received full scholarships to attend prestigious graduate music programs, such as the Eastman School of Music.

Also active as a leader in ensembles, Wang has served as the concertmaster of the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, Ballet West and Utah Chamber Orchestra, Ann Arbor Symphony, Classical Music Festival Orchestra in Austria, Southfield Symphony Orchestra, and Illinois Opera. He is the founder of the Kismartin String Quartet, Browning String Trio/Quartet, Wasatch Piano Trio, and the Formosan Violin-Piano Duo.

He has performed with world-renowned musicians such as Noah Bendix-Balgley, Anne-Sophie Mutter, János Starker and François Rabbath. Wang’s solo recordings include “Formosan Duo Classical Album,” “Formosan Duo Romantic Album” and “Formosan Duo Chinese Album.”

Wang has been on the faculty in the American String Workshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan, International Music Workshops in Norway and Austria, Sewanee Music Festival in Tennessee, InterHarmony International Music Festival in Italy and Germany, and many state string workshops and conferences. Wang was a visiting violin professor at the Haydn Konservatorium in Austria in 2009. He was a featured violin master teacher multiple times at the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference and has given master classes in many states in the U.S., Singapore, China, Taiwan, Canada, Austria, Germany, Italy and Hungary.

Wang served on the national planning committee for the ASTA National Conference in 2003 and was the Utah American String Teachers Association State President for four years. He received the Utah ASTA Educator of the Year and the Outstanding Teaching Award. Visit more news about Weber State University.