Beloved international director takes new position

Pascal Friedmann

Morteza Emami (middle) talks to former and current collegues at his farewell luncheon. (Ariana Berkemeier / The Signpost)
Morteza Emami (middle) talks to former and current collegues at his farewell luncheon. (Ariana Berkemeier / The Signpost)

Morteza Emami’s favorite memory of his 11 years as international office director was when some of his students crafted him a photo collage for National Boss Day.

Emami will be remembered among Weber State University’s international students as much more than just a boss.

“The international students were part of his family,” said Hasan Nezam, international student senator and WSUSA senate member. “He’s been a great helper for me personally and he has always been advising me.”

Emami came to WSU from Iran in 1986 when he was 22 years old and a student himself.

He never left.

“He has probably the most experience of anyone,” Delaram Hajhassan said. “He knows everything on campus and he can help students with almost anything.”

Hajhassan, who is also from Iran, said that Emami played an important role in her finding her current job as an admissions assistant.

“Also, it is a great experience to work with someone who understands you because he’s from the same country,” she said.

Giana Curtis, who teaches English as a second language at WSU and has known Emami since his arrival at WSU, said that despite students coming from vastly different backgrounds, Emami could relate to them all.

“I also remember that he was always smiling when I saw him, and he still is,” Curtis said. “He has always been very approachable.”

Since Emami first took over, the international student population at Weber State has grown at a fast rate.

“Since Morteza has started his position, the number of international students has increased tenfold,” International Dean Cliff Nowell said. “No one will ever increase the number of students tenfold again at WSU, so that is an outstanding accomplishment.”

Despite the measurable increase in enrollment, Emami said that numbers are not what matters most.

“Individual students who graduate despite challenges mean much more than numbers,” he said.

“That is why I’ve come to love this job,” Emami said. “Leaving it was a very hard decision.”

Emami’s new position involves recruiting potential nontraditional students from the community and raising public awareness of WSU’s downtown campus.

No replacement has been found for the position of international office director.