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Community Engagement

Big Names Tackle Big Topics at WSU

Throughout the 2018–19 academic year, WSU hosted a variety of public figures who tackled a wide range of topics, including activism, journalism, race relations and science.

In September, human rights activist Dolores Huerta, who helped found the United Farm Workers union in the 1960s alongside César Chávez, delivered the keynote speech for WSU’s Hispanic Heritage Month activities. In January, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow, whose groundbreaking article in The New Yorker was a catalyst for the #MeToo movement, visited for an interview with radio host Doug Fabrizio. As part of Black History Month in February, retired law enforcement officer Ron Stallworth shared his story of infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan — a story that inspired the motion picture BlacKkKlansman. In April, WSU capped the academic year with famed scientist and entertainer Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” who took part in a moderated Q&A.

WSU Research Reveals the Government Shutdown’s Real Impact

Most American families do not have enough savings to cover even a $1,000 emergency. The financial and emotional stress that can bring became apparent during the partial federal government shutdown, which began Dec. 22, 2018.

Weber State’s Center for Community Engaged Learning-Research Extension (CCEL-RE) conducted a set of surveys to study the impact of the shutdown on individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations in northern Utah. They worked in partnership with Ogden City, Weber and Davis counties, the Division of Workforce Services and WSU’s economic development director.

Findings revealed that during the 35-day shutdown, more than 35% of furloughed employees missed a rent or mortgage payment, 30% went to a food pantry or received a free meal, and 65% were “very” or “somewhat concerned” about finances after the shutdown. Another 72% reported experiencing high anxiety or stress, but only 4% received mental health support.

CCEL-RE plans to continue its research with focus groups to explore why furloughed employees had such low rates of savings, how employees working without pay can receive services and how the community can meet the mental health needs of those affected by a financial emergency.

CEC By the Numbers:


Number of classes offered at the CEC


Number of students served


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Number of children attending the children’s school

Caring for the Community Through Education

With warm colors and a flood of natural light, WSU’s new Community Education Center provides a welcoming atmosphere for those seeking pathways to a degree or career. Located in central Ogden, the center helps WSU further integrate into the community by offering residents courses in English as a second language, basic computer skills and job-search skills, and helping future students navigate college registration and financial-aid applications.

The center also houses a Melba S. Lehner Children’s School extension, the Ogden Civic Action Network and the Center for Community Engaged Learning Community Partnerships Extension.

“The Community Education Center reaches out and helps those who may not think furthering their education is attainable,” said Brian Stecklein, associate dean of the Division of Online & Continuing Education. “It is a place where people can come and prepare for the next steps in their educational process.”

Celebrating 150 Years

Weber State Special Collections partnered with Weber County Library and Union Station in 2019 to host the Whistle Stop Tour, a series of lectures and exhibits marking the Transcontinental Railroad’s 150-year history. Lectures focused on a wide range of topics, including the railroad’s diverse workforce and how Ogden became the “Junction City.” Exhibits centered on the railroad’s impact on northern Utah and Ogden’s 50th anniversary celebration held in 1919.

The Intermountain Sustainability Summit, hosted by WSU, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019.

The 2019 lawn mower exchange program provided 1,259 electric mowers and 972 trimmers to eligible Utah residents.