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& Completion

WSU fulfills the need for Master of Social Work graduates

Justin Sciarini

Mental health care providers in northern Utah are struggling to fill positions that require a Master of Social Work degree due to a shortage of professionals in the field. WSU answered the call with a new degree that saw its first graduating class of 44 students in spring 2023. Near April’s graduation, about 94% of the class had a job lined up or had already started. 

Justin Sciarini found out he landed a job at the Weber State Counseling and Psychological Services Center, where he had also worked as an intern, soon after graduation. 

“The Weber State community is where I knew I wanted to be,” he said. “I wanted to continue the work I had started, to continue to grow the relationships and networks that I had made. I knew there was so much more I could do, and I am excited to be able to continue.”

College of Engineering

College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology expands retention efforts

The College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology supported Weber State’s retention and completion goals throughout the 2022–23 academic year by stepping up efforts to keep students engaged.

The School of Computing’s Retention Teaching League held monthly meetings for faculty and staff to exchange ideas to improve teaching and retention. Discussion topics included classroom late policies, scheduling office hours on Google Calendar, online discussion boards and more.

The Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering used university faculty development and industry partner funding to engage underrepresented and female students through faculty-led research, peer mentorship and showcasing equipment and laboratories.

Women in Computing, Engineering & Technology, a community of students, faculty and staff committed to increasing engagement and retention in STEM, held events on and off campus for all students. They included guest speakers, hands-on learning and networking opportunities. Students in the group also attended Women Tech Council events at Adobe’s Utah headquarters and The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.

In July 2022, Weber State recognized the Department of Professional Sales for having the university’s highest first-year retention rate. The work to achieve the honor included staying up to date on retention data, advisors staying in touch with students, promoting departmental honors, bringing employers to classes, increasing course accessibility and continuing to offer online degrees.

WSU’s strategic plan outlines goals to reduce the eight-year completion gaps between the overall student population and low-income; first-generation; Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC); underrepresented; and developmental math and English students. The plan also seeks to increase retention among first-time students.

Read the full strategic plan online.

Jessica Oyler

A New Leader for Access & Success

Weber State appointed Jessica Oyler as vice president of the Student Access & Success division in May 2023. 

As leader of the recently realigned division, Oyler will help the university meet its strategic plan goals by working with the campus and community to address enrollment challenges and helping students succeed. 

Oyler has over 15 years of higher education experience. She previously served as associate provost, assistant vice president of Human Resources and executive director of Student Affairs Strategic Initiatives.

 Ivana Fredotovic

Welcoming a chief data officer

Ivana Fredotovic, who previously served as director of research and data analytics at Miami Dade College, became WSU’s first chief data officer during the 2022–23 academic year. As CDO, Fredotovic will be charged with developing a comprehensive strategy for student data and analytics with the goal of ensuring more students are retained and complete their degrees. 

Provost Ravi Krovi said hiring Fredotovic is a defining moment since WSU is among the first to hire a CDO.

WSU task force eases students’ financial burden



Grants awarded to faculty for OER training


faculty & staff participating


courses impacted

A report from The College Board states that students at four-year institutions budgeted an average of $1,240 for books and supplies for the 2022–23 academic year.

At WSU, the Affordable Course Materials Task Force works to ease that burden.

The task force consists of staff from Stewart Library, Wildcat Store and its marketing team and WSU Online, as well as faculty. It formed in 2018, but stepped up its efforts as students dealt with financial hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One way they’ve helped is with Open Educational Resources (OER), materials that are in the public domain or released under a license allowing them to be freely used, modified or shared. The task force awards grants for faculty to train in using the materials. The first year of grants were awarded using Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund money, and they are now funded by the Provost’s Office and library funds. 

Since the grant program started, OER materials have helped students save over $1.6 million, including $790,527 during the 2023 fiscal year.

The task force also encourages faculty to embrace Course Reserves, which include book chapters, films and more in the library databases; and Day One Access, a collaborative program between the Wildcat Store, faculty and publishers to give students access to digital materials at a reduced cost.

In 2023, the task force presented Course Materials Affordability Awards to Kathleen Paco Cadman, associate professor of nursing; Sara Dant, professor of history; and the Department of Foreign Languages faculty for making WSU more affordable for students.

 Physician assistants studying

Meeting the demand for physician assistants

Weber State’s new graduate program in physician assistant studies welcomed its first class of 20 students in January 2023, making it the 20th graduate degree offered at WSU. 

The program focuses on primary and hospital care for adults.

Jessica Stratton

In charge of her future, despite life’s obstacles

A few years ago, Jessica Stratton was living in her car with $2.08 to her name. Now she’s a 4.0 student studying computer science, and recently received the Student Pathway Award from Utah’s Women Tech Council.

Stratton left a turbulent home at 18 with dreams of going to college. Losing her mother to ovarian cancer in 2020 renewed that desire. Through financial aid and private scholarships, she found her way to WSU, where she’s honing the same passions that she pursued as a child and throughout high school: all things computers. 

“I looked into other universities, but I felt like a number to them — a test score, a GPA,” Stratton said. “But at Weber State, I feel valued as a person. Being here helped me see that I’m in charge of my own future.”

Stratton plans to graduate in 2025 and pursue a career that fuses technology and art. She also wants to inspire people of all backgrounds to believe in themselves. 

“I’m not ashamed of my past — that’s still part of me,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, as long as you know what you want and are moving forward.”

WSU hits 60% retention goal

During the fall 2022 semester, two years ahead of its original goal, WSU reached a 60% retention rate for first-time students from one fall to the next. The accomplishment improves on the fall 2019 rate of 56%.


increased enrollment in WSU’s Graduate Studies in Education program.

Graduate Studies in Education grows enrollment

Enrollment in WSU’s Graduate Studies in Education program has increased 45% over the past five years. Students in the program have seven areas of emphasis they can choose from, ranging from educational leadership to family life education. More than 70 students were expected to begin the program in fall 2023.

David Gonzalez

Past hardship drives criminal justice graduate’s future

David Gonzalez grew up seeing the effects substance abuse had on loved ones. Those formative experiences inspired his educational and career goals. 

“I had family members who would abuse alcohol and prescription drugs,” said Gonzalez, a recent graduate of WSU. “Being surrounded by all of that definitely shaped why I wanted to study criminal justice.” 

Gonzalez said his parents emphasized the importance of education, but getting started felt daunting. 

Thankfully, GEAR UP advisors helped him with admissions and financial aid, while the Wildcat Scholars program provided mentorship and introduced him to other students from diverse backgrounds. 

While at Weber, Gonzalez’s professors connected him to an internship with the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System, which solidified his interest in working within the justice system. 

Now Gonzalez is earning a master’s degree in social work while interning with Salt Lake County Jail’s mental health team. He’s confident his experiences — both personal and professional — give him unique insight to help the individuals he’ll be working with.