WSU salutes alumni and community members

(Photo by Tony Post) The WSU President’s Award went to the mayor of Ogden, Michael Caldwell, class of 2001.

Weber State University honored distinguished alumni Sept. 26 at the 45th Annual WSU Salutes Homecoming Awards ceremony at the Hurst Alumni Center.

Honorees have led distinguished lives of contributing to the community around them. Each individual was honored with a short video clip about his or her accomplishments.

Keith Stubbs, owner of Wiseguys Comedy Club, opened up the show as the master of ceremonies, engaging the crowd with his many jokes.

WSU President Chuck Wight welcomed all the honorees, whom he called “champions of Weber State and shining examples of humanity.”

The first awards presented went to the Homecoming Royalty, Nicholas DeYoung and Tessa Diamond, for being outstanding examples of WSU students. The Emeriti Alumni Homecoming Royalty, Dean and Kathleen Hughes, also received awards for their extensive work in education and writing.

“We have great, fond memories of Weber, and this is where I met Dean,” Kathleen Hughes said. “Good things have happened here.”

Awards for distinguished service were presented to Bonnie C. Clark and Bettye Gillespie.

Clark, an advocate for the promotion of education for women, has an extensive career in academics.

“It is so great to see these kids have opportunities and resources they’ve never had before,” said Clark in her video. “Help them further their education and better the quality of their life.”

Gillespie grew up during a time of persecution and turmoil. She stood for civil rights and pushed for equality for young women in employment, schools and voter registration. Gillespie is also a recipient of the Rosa Parks Award.

Louenda H. Downs, class of 1978, received the Lewis W. Shurtliff Award for her commitment to the advancement of education. Brett W. Jones, class of 2009 and receiver of three Crystal Crest awards, was honored with the Outstanding Young Alumni award for his work with community service. The help Jones and his family received when he was a child cultivated his desire to give back to the same system that helped him.

“My experience in my initial volunteering,” said Jones during his video interview, “opened my eyes up to that whole world that was possible that you could give back.”

Jones has volunteered around the world and continues to volunteer.

“Volunteer service is a great way to see other cultures,” he said, “not just as another tourist, but directly and to have real meaningful interactions with them. I guess that is why I do these crazy things.”

Michael G. Malaska, class of 1976 and member of the Professional Golf Association, was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for his exceptional achievements and service. Malaska went on to teach golfers and help them improve their technique. He is a director for instruction worldwide and serves as an ambassador for WSU.

“To Weber State I owe my life,” Malaska said.

He also said WSU gave him the opportunity to grow and show the talent he didn’t know he possessed. “A lot of the alumni and professors helped me . . . and gave me this opportunity.”

R. Leon Clark, class of 1957, was awarded with the Emeriti Lifetime Achievement Award for alumni who graduated at least 40 years ago. A successful dentist in California, Clark and his wife have volunteered in many foreign countries, using his love of dentistry to change the lives of individuals around the world.

“I love dentistry,” said Clark during his video. “I am so happy I went into dentistry, and after I sold my practice and we have done humanitarian dentistry for 13 years, I have to say I think I like that better.”

The WSU President’s Award went to the mayor of Ogden, Michael Caldwell, class of 2001. As mayor, Caldwell has pushed to make Ogden into a “college town,” bringing in the WSU Continuing Education Center, campus store and a lab for app creation to downtown Ogden.

“I had somebody at the alumni club meeting the other day say that it is so awesome and refreshing to see both Weber State and Ogden City have its swagger back!” said Caldwell during his video interview. “We stand on the shoulders of our friends and family and the people we have around us. Everything we do, we do collectively. This is a phenomenal community to work for.”