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Improvements and Innovations

Computer & Automotive Engineering Building, Now Open for Learning

A worldwide pandemic did not stop construction on the new Computer & Automotive Engineering Building at WSU Davis, which opened as planned fall semester 2020.

The 51,000-square-foot building will help the College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology accommodate growth. In addition to six classrooms, the $20 million building features a testing or “sandbox” environment for computer science and software engineering courses. The new home of the automotive technology program will enjoy updated automotive shops, including a Tesla learning center and an engine test cell.

New Wildcat Leaders

Having the vision to lead a university is a significant challenge at any time, let alone during a worldwide pandemic, but leaders who joined Weber State during the 2019–20 academic year stepped up to guide the university through a tumultuous period.

When provost, Ravi Krovi, arrived in March 2020, he presented WSU President Brad Mortensen with a 90-day plan, “which went out the window in the first week, as we moved into COVID crisis mode,” Krovi remembers with a laugh.

What the crisis did provide was an intense crash course on the university’s people and processes. Krovi said he was pleased the strengths that attracted him to Weber State have been on constant display during the crisis. He noted especially the student focus, collegiality, shared governance and fiscal stability.

“You have to be adaptive and flexible,” Krovi said. “That is part of my operating model. Get everyone engaged. You have to collaborate and communicate, which means engaging all the key stakeholders, faculty senate, administration and students in important decisions.”

Weber State also welcomed Kristin Hadley, dean of the Jerry & Vickie Moyes College of Education, and Matthew Mouritsen, dean of the John B. Goddard School of Business & Economics. Both deans were selected in national searches, though each had many combined years of teaching and leadership at Weber State. Hadley and Mouritsen assumed responsibility for their colleges well prepared for a crisis they never expected to face.

Hadley said the College of Education had been working diligently with technology before the pandemic to implement virtual courses for the Master of Education. “These experienced faculty then became the ‘experts’ needed on campus to train faculty in other areas,” she said.

“When we needed them most, our values and principles helped us steer through some of the most trying times any of us have faced,” Mouritsen said. “Our sudden transition to virtual teaching was made much easier because we already knew how we would focus on students.”

New vice president for University Advancement Betsy Mennell arrived with 20 years of external relations experience at several universities, including many years at Northern Arizona University. She found Weber State, with its proud 131 year history, was well positioned to continue serving students and the community in any environment.

“The university’s stability and dedication to helping our students succeed, sustains and strengthens positive relationships with donors and the community even in the most difficult of times.”

Computer Science Offers More Paths for Students

Weber State students can now earn an associate’s degree in computer science in 14 months, though the time frame is flexible, thanks to an innovative new program.

In fall 2020, the computer science program launched CS Flex, a collection of 10 online computer science courses that allow students to move at their own pace, advancing through the material as soon as they master it, said Linda DuHadway, associate professor of computer science and coordinator of CS Flex.

“It’s unique across the country,” DuHadway said of the program. “Other programs have built flexibility within a certain time frame, and we’ve broadened that time frame and made it more flexible.” Students can begin and complete courses outside the schedule of a traditional semester, she said, and they can work at a slower or faster pace, based on their needs.

Computer science faculty developed the online curriculum for CS Flex with the support of a Talent Ready Utah grant for $249,281 awarded in July 2019, DuHadway said. The grant concluded in June 2020, but the curriculum the program built will continue to be used and updated, extending the benefit of the grant for years to come, she said.

The grant also funded tuition scholarships for 10 high school teachers who participated in a pilot of the program during the spring and summer of 2020.

In July 2020, the School of Computing also added the new Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Teaching program.

“We noticed a lot of schools wanting to teach computer science, but they lacked educators who had experience or degrees to qualify them to teach the courses,” said Drew Weidman, professor of computer science and coordinator of high school concurrent enrollment for the computer science program. “That was the driving force behind creating this degree.”

Student-Produced App Streamlines Study Abroad

With funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research, Rose Harris, a double major in German and computer science, created a new smartphone app to help students prepare to study abroad at the University of Bayreuth in Germany. Based on her own experience at University of Bayreuth, Harris’s app — called Bayreuth Study Abroad — walks students through applying to the university, securing housing and finding social and academic support. In May 2020, Harris launched her app in the Google Play Store, and she’s in the process of publishing the app through the Apple App Store.

Language of Business

Foreign languages department expands, redesigns business language curriculum with help of federal grant

Over the fall and spring of 2019–20, faculty in the Department of Foreign Languages launched updated business language courses in Japanese and Spanish. In spring 2020, the department offered a Chinese business language course for the first time.

Craig Bergeson, professor of Spanish and former department chair, said the business language courses meet a demand from students, which is one of the reasons the department updated and expanded its offerings.

The effort was supported by a Title VI grant, awarded to the department in 2018 through the U.S. Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program. The grant provides $165,000 over three years to fund faculty travel and training in business language, benefiting every language in which the department offers a major or minor.

During the summer of 2019, prior to retooling their courses, faculty traveled to Spain, Japan and China, where they received additional training in business language instruction from native speakers who are experts in the field. When international travel restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted, other faculty members will travel to France and Germany for similar training.

WSU Foreign Languages by the Numbers


languages are taught in the Department of Foreign Languages.


language clubs and organizations are housed in the department.

During the 2020–21 academic year, faculty will teach Chinese, French, and Spanish to


students in


local high schools as part of the Dual Language Immersion Bridge Program.

An average of


language and culture courses are taught every semester.


students currently major or minor in foreign languages.

Saving the Planet, Saving Lives

Two new WSU academic programs meet serious demands

Weber State students can now prepare to save the planet or save lives with two new degree options available in fall 2020: a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Science in Radiologic Sciences, Cardiac Specialist.

For students like Allison Stanley, who are interested in tackling the tough issues facing our planet, the new environmental science degree is particularly welcome.

“I realized I could take the time to explore many of the different approaches when tackling the climate emergency,” Stanley said.

This interdisciplinary degree will allow students to take classes across both physical and life science subjects. Some of the work already being conducted in the College of Science includes evaluation of drinking water in Weber County and secondary biomonitoring of heavy metal pollutants in Ogden.

“Faculty and administration in the College of Science chose to pursue this degree because we are located in a region — and on a planet — with pressing environmental issues,” said Andrea Easter-Pilcher, dean of the College of Science

Chris Steelman, Coordinator of the Cardiac Specialist Program at the School of Radiologic Sciences, is excited to welcome students from a variety of health professions into the new invasive cardiology graduate program.

Students who choose the cardiac specialist emphasis will acquire the knowledge and clinical skills necessary for a career in a cardiac cath lab. New advancements in medical technology have enabled an increasing number of procedures to help people with heart disease avoid open-heart surgery.

“We are working on a heart through a hole in your body the size of a straw,” Steelman said.

The transcatheter method allows people to have surgery on their heart by inserting small tubes into their body. This less invasive method can be used to repair issues such as closed arteries or congenital heart defects.

“As cath labs continue to expand the services they offer, there is an increasing need for professionals with the experience acquired in our program,” Steelman said.