May 27, 2009 — Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Undergraduate Studies Charles A. Wight has been selected from a pool of nearly a dozen candidates to be the new Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Utah. He replaces David Chapman who will return to teaching and academic research.
Upon learning of his appointment, Wight pledged to enhance existing programs. “Working in partnership with the colleges and departments, I am committed to the pursuit of excellence in professional training programs, to the creation of new knowledge and ideas through research and scholarship, and to strengthening programs through diversity of the students, faculty and staff,” said Wight. “Graduate programs represent many of the crown jewels of the University of Utah. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the graduate school forward on the course set by my distinguished predecessors, most recently Ann Hart and David Chapman.”
Professor Wight earned his bachelor of science degree in chemistry at the University of Virginia and his Ph.D. in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. He joined the University of Utah chemistry faculty in 1984, and he has most recently served as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Undergraduate Studies.
“Professor Wight has proven his leadership abilities in both the management of large, interdisciplinary research projects and the administration of multiple academic and administrative units. He has had personal experience with successfully directing graduate students and post doctorial associates as well as a clear vision of the future of higher education in the flat, wired world of this century,” said David Pershing, senior vice president for academic affairs. “Chuck has a strong commitment to the continued modernization of the graduate office processes for the good of the students and faculty and plans to increase the recruitment of more outstanding, diverse students.”
In his faculty role, Professor Wight’s research group investigates the rates and mechanisms of chemical reactions that are important in the combustion and detonation of high explosives and rocket propellants. He is the deputy director of the Center for Simulation of Accidental Fires and Explosions (C-SAFE).
In his administrative role, Wight has been responsible for assessment and oversight of a broad range of issues relating to academic outreach, online courses, educational technology, undergraduate course requirements, the university’s Continuing education unit, the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, and the U’s institutional partnerships with the Academy for Math, Engineering and Science (an early college charter high school) and with Dixie State College. He uses online learning tools in his teaching, and he is the founder and chief software architect of an open education web site http://practicezone.org that is specifically designed to help students in general chemistry courses.
Outgoing dean David Chapman says it has been his privilege to be part of the graduate school for the past 16 years and he wishes the best for the new dean. “The new dean inherits an amazing staff that serves over 6,500 graduate students and 350 post doctoral scholars with efficiency, creativity, and unswerving professionalism,” said Chapman. “I wish Chuck much success in one of the best academic leadership positions in the university.”