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SU Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion Named in Honor of President Charles Wight

Spirit of Salisbury University Award presentation
SU President Charles Wight and his wife, Victoria Rasmussen, display the Spirit of Salisbury University Award

SALISBURY, MD---When Salisbury University President Charles Wight dedicated SU’s Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion in 2018, he did so with the hope of building upon the campus’ culture of diversity and inclusion.

In recognition of his dedication to those ideals, SU’s executive leadership recently announced that the facility will be renamed the Charles A. Wight Multicultural Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion.

Campus leaders surprised Wight with the tribute just weeks prior to his planned retirement from the presidency on July 14.

“SU has been my home for the past four years, and I can’t think of any place I would rather have been,” said Wight. “To know that my name will have a permanent place on campus is a great accolade, and to have it associated with SU’s diversity and inclusion efforts, which I championed as a major initiative from my first day in the President’s Office, is one of the highest honors of my career.”

“President Wight’s commitment to diversity and inclusion included the reinstatement of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, new staff positions dedicated to multicultural student services, the campus’ first climate study, and the continuation of the recently renamed President’s Diversity and Inclusion Champion awards,” said Eli Modlin, SU chief of staff. “The opening of the Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion, less than six months after he began his SU tenure, was a landmark initiative that symbolized his commitment to ensuring all students feel welcome on campus and led the way for other accomplishments.”

In addition to overseeing SU’s diversity and inclusion initiatives for the past four years, Wight notably took a stand against acts of social injustice both on and off campus, publicly condemning racially and sexually charged vandalism perpetrated by an off-campus community member in 2019 and 2020, as well as the Minneapolis Police murder of George Floyd while in custody in 2020.

Currently located in Blackwell Hall, the Wight Multicultural Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion serves as the home of SU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, as well as the University’s African Diaspora Center, American Asian Pacific Islander Center, American Sign Language Zone, disAbility Resource Center, Latinx Center, LGBTQIA+ Resource Center and Women’s Center.

University leaders also honored Wight with the Spirit of Salisbury Award. Presented to select individuals who have made continuous and notable contributions to SU’s mission, quality and character, the award has been presented only twice before: to the late Dr. Norman Crawford, who served as SU’s president from 1970-1980, and to Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach, Wight’s presidential predecessor from 2000-2018.

Since becoming SU’s ninth president in 2018, Wight has focused on priorities including ensuring educational accessibility and affordability, building on SU’s culture of diversity and inclusion, being a steward of financial resources and the environment, and furthering mutually positive community relationships, all with the ultimate goal of providing students with the greatest opportunities for success.

In addition to the Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion, new facilities opened under his leadership have included the Dave and Patsy Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship at SU Downtown and an enhanced 3-D arts studio.

Academically during Wight’s tenure, SU has been lauded among the nation’s top universities and best values in higher education by national publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Money, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and The Princeton Review. The University also has launched three new academic majors and 18 new minors.

In 2020, The Princeton Review named SU’s Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons among the nation’s 20 best college libraries. That same year, SU announced the endowment of its Glenda Chatham and Robert G. Clarke Honors College, providing expanded opportunities for high-achieving students. The University’s College of Health and Human Services, announced in early 2018, also launched during Wight’s tenure.

Since Wight took the helm as SU’s president, students also have earned national and international academic honors. Each year during that time, SU has been named among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Students by the U.S. Department of State and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Others have received prestigious awards including the Goldwater, Fulbright Canada, St. Andrews, United Nations Millennium, Amgen, Boren, Critical Language, and Running Start Congressional fellowships, among others.

SU also has excelled on the athletic field during Wight’s time on campus, earning NCAA Division III national championships in baseball and women’s lacrosse, as well as a host of conference championships in baseball, field hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and men’s track and field.

In the community, the University has supported efforts including the City of Salisbury’s Truitt and Newton community centers, physical and mental health care through initiatives such as its Center for Healthy Communities (also established under Wight), and local schools through its award-winning Professional Development School partnerships, among others.

During that time, SU also has completed a strategic plan for 2020-2025 and, as part of those goals, launched a new branding initiative following a year of research and development.

Another major initiative has been “We Are SU: The Campaign for Salisbury University,” a $75 million fundraising effort representing the largest in campus history. Under Wight’s presidency, the SU Foundation, Inc., has seen its endowment top $100 million for the first time. Wight and his wife, Victoria Rasmussen, also have provided their support for SU in the way of gifts and endowments, including the $40,000 Dorothy Ruxton Student Chemistry Research Fund, named in honor of Wight’s mother.

In addition to these successes, Wight also has led the University through several challenges, including modified operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wight, who began his higher education career as an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Utah in 1984, has continued to play an active part in the classroom, teaching one course each year. He will continue that role into fall 2022 as a part-time faculty member in SU’s Chemistry Department.

These were not Wight’s first tributes since announcing his plans to retire as SU’s president. In November, Salisbury Mayor Jake Day announced the honorary renaming of Camden Street in Downtown Salisbury, which fronts SU Downtown, as “Chuck Wight Street.” The campus held a retirement celebration in Wight’s honor last month. Multiple local and state elected officials also have presented him with citations for his service to SU and the greater community.

Learn more about how SU students and faculty are exploring opportunities for greatness and making tomorrow theirs at the SU website.