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Charles A. Wight Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion naming
From left: Eli Modlin, SU chief of staff and vice president of public affairs and strategic initiatives; Dr. Dane Foust, vice president of student affairs; Dr. Charles A. Wight, SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre; and Jason Curtin, vice president of advancement and executive director of the SU Foundation, Inc.

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

SALISBURY, MD---During his first semester on campus in fall 2018, Dr. Charles “Chuck” Wight, ninth President of Salisbury University, dedicated the SU Center for Equity, Justice and Inclusion (CEJI).

Upon his retirement in 2022, members of his Executive Staff announced the center would be named in his honor, celebrating his commitment to diversity and inclusion. They recently fulfilled that promise, making the name official during a surprise presentation at this year’s SU President’s Diversity and Inclusion Champion Awards ceremony.

“From the first few weeks on campus, Chuck knew he needed to put resources and energy into developing robust resources for diversity, equity and inclusion,” said his wife, Victoria Rasmussen, who shared her thoughts on the honor during a video presentation. “He also understood that meaningful growth in this area would only result if people could come together, trust each other, and openly discuss and develop programs that they believed in.”

The foundation of these discussions were casual conversations Wight had with students while dining in the Commons and attending student activities. Notable encounters included a young single parent, a student with autism and members of the SU chapter of the NAACP, who shared their stories with him.

“He gained a lot of insight into the big variety of ways that people experience the climate on this campus,” said Rasmussen. “He was able to broaden his understanding of what SU was like from people who were different from him. Slowly, he built credibility as people came to recognize how genuine he is. And slowly, quietly, this began to bring results.”

Students and others were able to connect with many of Wight’s values, including a belief in the need for diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as making decisions based on sound, tested principles, she said. These connections and decisions helped shape the CEJI into a thriving center.

Upon its opening in SU’s Blackwell Hall, it included space for organizations representing three diverse communities: the disAbility Resource Center, LBGTQIA+ Resource Center and Women’s Center. They soon were joined by four more: the African Diaspora Center, American Asian Pacific Islander Center, American Sign Language Zone, and Latinx Center. (With the recent closing of Blackwell Hall for renovations, the center has relocated to the Guerrieri Student Union.)

In addition to overseeing SU’s diversity and inclusion initiatives during his tenure as President, 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, and contributing to the national conversation on race.

“In his own quiet way, I have seen Chuck demonstrate great courage, especially in regard to social justice,” said Rasmussen. “He does not shy away from tough decisions. And because of the integrity and principles underlying these decisions, he stands with courage for what he knows to be right.”

Following Rasmussen’s recorded remarks, SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre presented Wight with a plaque commemorating the naming. The center’s new sign is in place at the Guerrieri Student Union.

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.