Wight ready to lead Salisbury University
After 18 years with Dr. Janet Dudley-Esbach at the helm, Salisbury University has a new captain. Dr. Charles "Chuck" Wight. For the former Weber State University president, the move to the Eastern Shore has a been a homecoming of sorts.
"I was born in New York, Long Island and grew up in Fairfax, Virginia and came out to the beach and Ocean City a lot during my high school and early college years and just really loved the place," Wight said, adding that when he found out there was an opening at SU he thought, "that's like home."
Although Dudley-Eshbach completed a lot in her 18 years, what Wight has done during his past 5 at Weber State is almost equally as impressive. On top of increasing the student population, the university also built 8 new buildings under his watch.
Now the University of Virginia and California Institute of Technology grad seems more than excited to bring that same success to Salisbury. First on his agenda though, is listening.
"I've been telling everyone that I'm on a100-day listening tour and I am learning as much as I can about the institution and the community and the relationship between Salisbury University and it's community. Before I make any firm decisions on where to go," Wight said.
For Wight the most important part of the job is the students and his relationships with them.
"I just love interacting with young people who are bright and at the beginnings of their lives and just trying to figure it out. It's wonderful, it's my favorite thing," Wight said.
Although he hasn't made any definitive plans yet, one of the things Wight does bring is a strong passion for education for all. At Weber State, the University had something called the Dream Weber program, where low-income students could essentially go to school for free as long as they met certain requirements.
"What we found was that if you lower the financial barriers to college and instead challenge students to commit themselves to earn a degree in a short period of time, then students will rise to the challenge," Wight said.
47 ABC asked him if we would see something similar at SU.
"I'm not ready to commit to that but I am ready to say that I am very interested in making college affordable for all students. That opportunity and accessibility to education are really important to me, so we'll do something," Wight said.
One thing Wight says they will also do is taking a look at Maggs gym. A place students complained about last year saying the facility is out of date and too small for a growing student body.
"I go through the East Campus and see the amazing facilities for football, baseball, lacrosse, field hockey, softball and it's an amazing facility, the Maggs Gym is a little bit less amazing and the auditorium, in particular, is on a short list for at least an upgrade if not a replacement so we'll see what we can do to raise money for that," Wight said.
Ultimately time will tell what mark Wight will leave on Salisbury, but one thing that students should feel immediately is his passion to teach because it was evident to us, just listening to him share stories.
"All of a sudden her eyes got really big and I said Maddie what's going on, is there a problem and she says 'I just realized this class isn't about memorizing formulas and equations, this class is about how the world works!' That was a huge win for me and that's exactly the way I want students to feel. I want them to feel like they're learning how the world works cause that's so important for college," Wight said.
Move in day for SU is set for Thursday August 23.