Portrait of Ninth SU President Charles Wight Unveiled
By SU Public Relations
SALISBURY, MD---Serving as Salisbury University’s ninth President, from 2018-2022, Dr. Charles A. Wight led the institution through one of the most unprecedented times in history, taking actions to keep the University thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, his portrait joins those of his predecessors in honor of his service to SU. Created by Jinchul Kim, SU professor of art, the painting was unveiled during a festive ceremony in advance of its installation outside the President’s Suite in Holloway Hall.
“This portrait represents, as we just heard [from Kim], more than just strokes of paint; it represents the spirit of leadership, dedication and commitment to the pursuit of knowledge, progress and Salisbury University,” said SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre.
“Chuck’s unwavering belief in the power of education as a force for positive change propelled our institution forward, nurturing an environment where curiosity flourished and innovation thrived, even under the most difficult of circumstances.
“Through his tenure, he instilled values that continue to resonate throughout our community — values of integrity, compassion and inclusion. This legacy is not merely a chapter in the archives of our history; it is a guiding light that continues to illuminate our path toward a brighter future.”
“It is quite an honor to have my portrait hung beside the Presidents who created such a monumental foundation for SU before me,” said Wight. “As our rankings have shown for more than two decades, Salisbury University is one of the preeminent institutions of higher education not only in the region, but in the nation, and I am proud to have played a part in its history.”
As President, 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.
Under his leadership, SU established its Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion (renamed the Charles A. Wight Multicultural Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion upon his retirement in July 2022), reinstated its Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and completed a campus climate study. Other new facilities opened during his tenure included the Dave and Patsy Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship at SU Downtown and an enhanced 3-D arts studio.
Academically during his time as President, SU was 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 launched three new academic majors and 18 new minors.
In 2020, for the first time, 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.
Each year during Wight’s time as President, SU was named among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Students by the U.S. Department of State and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Students also received prestigious awards including the Goldwater, Fulbright Canada, St. Andrews, United Nations Millennium, Amgen, Boren, Critical Language, and Running Start Congressional fellowships, among others.
In addition, SU excelled on the athletic field during Wight’s presidency, 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.
Another major initiative was “We Are SU: The Campaign for Salisbury University,” a $75 million fundraising effort representing the largest in campus history. During Wight’s presidency, the SU Foundation, Inc., saw its endowment top $100 million for the first time. Wight and his wife, Victoria, provided personal support for SU in the way of gifts and endowments, as well, including the $20,000 Dorothy Ruxton Student Chemistry Research Fund, named in honor of Wight’s mother.
Toward the campaign’s conclusion, SU launched its current brand, “Make Tomorrow Yours,” which has won multiple national advertising and marketing awards.
In addition to these successes, Wight also led the University through several challenges, including modified operations during the COVID-19 pandemic and incidences of racial injustice both on and off campus.
Wight’s retirement as SU’s President capped a higher education career spanning nearly four decades, starting as an assistant professor in chemistry at the University of Utah in 1984. Prior to coming to Salisbury, he served as president of Weber State University in Ogden, UT. After his retirement, he remained on faculty at SU as an adjunct professor of chemistry.
Wight’s portrait unveiling marked the culmination of a string of honors he received following the announcement of his retirement, including a citation from former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and a spot on the Daily Record’s inaugural “Power 30” compilation of the state’s top higher education influencers. The City of Salisbury honorarily dedicated Camden Street as “Chuck Wight Way” in his honor in 2021. The street fronts SU Downtown, the University’s downtown campus.
His portrait is the second representing an SU President to be painted by Kim, who also created the official portrait of his predecessor, President Janet Dudley-Eshbach, as well as that of former Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan.
Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at www.salisbury.edu.