Weber State University President Charles A. Wight will become the next president of Salisbury University, the University System of Maryland announced Tuesday.
Wight will replace Janet Dudley-Eshbach, who is stepping down after 18 years as the university’s president. He will take over the position July 1.
“(Salisbury is) in really great shape,” Wight said in an interview. “I am grateful to President Dudley-Eshbach for her leadership over the past 18 years.”
Wight led Weber State, located in Ogden, Utah, for nearly five years. Weber State is a public university with 28,000 students. He has led efforts in fundraising, increasing enrollment and building infrastructure.
At Salisbury University, Wight will take over a school with 8,700 students, one that has worked aggressively in recent years to become more integrated with the local community.
“On behalf of the Board of Regents, I’m delighted that Charles Wight is bringing his breadth of experience to lead Salisbury University as its next president,” James Brady, chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, said in a statement. “His list of accomplishments at Weber State University reflects a visionary style that helped his institution attain the kinds of successes that align with current priorities at Salisbury. We look forward to having Dr. Wight become a part of the USM family.”
Weber State’s fundraising campaign raised $164 million, exceeding its goal by $39 million. The campus also built or renovated eight buildings during his tenure. Enrollment at Weber State grew more than 5 percent during Wight’s time at the campus.
“In an era of competing pressures on higher education, Charles Wight realized an impressive number of milestones during roughly five years of leading Weber State,” Robert L. Caret, the chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said in a statement. “His acumen in fundraising, growing student enrollment, and working seamlessly with state and private funding sources position him well to continue Salisbury University’s strong tradition of success.”
In January, Wight announced to the Weber State University that he was a finalist for several president jobs across the country and would be stepping down in May. At Weber State, he had met the goals he set for himself and was ready to find new challenges, Wight said.
“Five-and-a-half years ago, I set out to accomplish some things at Weber State. Largely I have accomplished many of those goals already,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “I was looking for a new adventure.”
He also said he was concerned about the changing environment for education in Utah, with more power being removed from the university regents.
Salisbury’s status as a residential college will be a new challenge for him, Wight said. It is a change he looks forward to after Weber State, where only about 5 percent of the students lived on campus.
“Salisbury is a residential university,” he said. “I am really looking forward to interacting with students on more of a full-time basis.”
Wight is a professor of chemistry and an expert in chemical explosions. He taught an honors general chemistry course every spring semester. He plans to settle in at Salisbury before deciding whether he will teach a course there, he said.
Raised in northern Virginia, Wight received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Virginia and earned his Ph.D. from Caltech in 1982.
He said moving to Salisbury would be an opportunity to reconnect with where he grew up. His father and sister live across the bay in Deale.
“The real attraction of Salisbury is that I have family in the area. I grew up in northern Virginia,” he said. “It’s kind of liking coming home to my roots where I grew up.”
Wight held leadership positions at the University of Utah for 13 years before arriving at Weber State. Those positions included associate dean of undergraduate instruction, assistant vice president of continuing education, associate vice president of academic affairs and dean of the graduate school.