Judith P. Mitchell
Interviewed by Ruby Licona
17 May 2013
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Judith P. Mitchell
17 May 2013
Copyright © 2014 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
The Oral History Program of the Stewart Library was created to preserve the institutional history of Weber
State University and the Davis, Ogden and Weber County communities. By conducting carefully
researched, recorded, and transcribed interviews, the Oral History Program creates archival oral histories
intended for the widest possible use.
Interviews are conducted with the goal of eliciting from each participant a full and accurate account of
events. The interviews are transcribed, edited for accuracy and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewees,
who are encouraged to augment or correct their spoken words. The reviewed and corrected transcripts
are indexed, printed, and bound with photographs and illustrative materials as available. Archival copies
are placed in University Archives, which also houses the original recording so researchers can gain a
sense of the interviewee's voice and intonations.
The Weber State University Oral History Project began conducting interviews with key Weber State
University faculty, administrators, staff and students, in Fall 2007. The program focuses primarily on
obtaining a historical record of the school along with important developments since the school gained
university status in 1990. The interviews explore the process of achieving university status, as well as
major issues including accreditation, diversity, faculty governance, changes in leadership, curricular
Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews between a
narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a well-informed interviewer, with
the goal of preserving substantive additions to the historical record. Because it is primary material, oral
history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete narrative of events. It is a spoken
account. It reflects personal opinion offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and as such it
is partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable.
All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to
the Stewart Library of Weber State University. No part of the manuscript may be
published without the written permission of the University Librarian. Requests for
permission to publish should be addressed to the Administration Office, Stewart
Library, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, 84408. The request should include
identification of the specific item and identification of the user.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Mitchell, Judith P., an oral history by Ruby
Licona, 17 May 2013, WSU Stewart Library
Oral History Program, University Archives,
Stewart Library, Weber State University,
Judith P. Mitchell
Judith P. Mitchell
May 17, 2013
Abstract: This is an oral history interview with Judith P. Mitchell conducted on
May 17, 2013 by Ruby Licona. Judith discusses her career at Weber State from
1983 to 2011 in the Teacher Education program.
RL: I’m Ruby Licona and I am on the faculty here in the Stewart Library. Today is
May 17, 2013 and we are speaking with Judith P. Mitchell, who retired from the
Teacher Education program in 2011. She originally came to Weber State in
1983. We are looking forward to speaking with her and getting a good
perspective on her years here at Weber. Our meeting this morning is in the
Waterstradt Seminar in the Special Collections Library. Good morning, Judy, how
JM: Good morning. I am fine, thank you.
RL: I am so glad you agreed to do this. We are trying to capture as many
perspectives on Weber State and its history as possible and your name came up
as someone that we should spend some time talking to. Why don’t we begin with
you telling us a little bit about your background, where you grew up and what
might have drawn you to teaching?
JM: I grew up at least part of the time in Ogden. My parents were from Ogden. When
I was a child, my father went to medical school. We lived in Portland, Oregon for
about seven years and in Philadelphia for a year while he completed his
education. He was an ophthalmologist here in Ogden. We came back to Ogden
when I was nine years old. I started the fifth grade at Polk School, went through
the Ogden School District system and graduated from Ogden High School.
Page 1 of 35
Afterward, I went to Stanford University and spent four years there. My major
was music. It was a wonderful background and I’ve never regretted it for a minute
because it probably did more to enhance my life and my children’s lives than any
other education I could have had at the time. I had lots of literature, music, art
history and history classes. It was a nice foundation for whatever I decided to do
After college, I came back to Ogden and went to work for Amalgamated
Sugar. Those were the days when old Mr. Benning was still in charge of
Amalgamated Sugar. He was an interesting man who still had the secretarial girls
ironing the carbon paper so that it could be reused. He also had these little things
that went on the end of the pencil so that they could use the pencil down to the
last stub. I think he bought Amalgamated Sugar at a penny a share, so he came
through all of those really hard years and he knew how to squeeze a nickel. After
that, I was recruited by Bill Eccles to work for First Security Corporation as his
executive secretary. First Security then moved to Salt Lake, so I moved to Salt
Lake as well.
At that time, I became reacquainted with the man I later married. He was a
year or two older than I and I had known his sister. I have three children. Of
course, they are all adults now and I have five grandchildren. When I was having
my first baby, I quit working and I stayed home. When my two oldest children got
into school, I was so interested in the process of how children learn to read that I
thought, “Here I am with a Stanford Baccalaureate Degree and I could just whip
down to Polk School and teach reading.” I discovered that I had to have a state
Page 2 of 35
license, so I came to Weber State. They accepted all my liberal education credits
and I had to take the teacher education courses. I think I had to take ten hours of
science which I had carefully avoided in college previously. They awarded me a
Baccalaureate Degree in Science and then I went on to teach in the public
schools in Weber School District.
I taught at Marlon Hills Elementary and Valley View Elementary and
ended up out in Hooper. I loved Weber School District. They gave me
opportunities to learn and do different things. I’m not sure that the educational
standards of the parents were necessarily the most important thing, but they
were good parents and they were very supportive of the school and of teachers.
The children were lovely children and were wonderful to teach. I had never spent
any time in a farm community before and at that time Hooper was a farm
community. Many raised sugar beets as a cash crop. In the fall, there would be
mountains of sugar beets waiting to be picked up.
I earned a Master’s Degree from Utah State University in education and
my thesis was on reading. Then, I decided to do a doctorate and did that at the
University of Utah. I knew I liked the public schools. I liked teaching and I liked
the kids, but I am restless by nature and I thought what I really wanted to do was
teach in higher education because I thought I could make a difference.
RL: Was it a Ph.D. or an Ed.D. that you earned at the University of Utah?
JM: It was a Ph.D. I like going to school. I think most of us that are in the education
field like going to school. We like to teach, but we also like to be taught. So, when
Page 3 of 35
the opportunity came up for me to come to Weber on a trade for a year, I was
delighted. My district had recommended that since I had the doctorate.
RL: So you came here on a trade? How did that work?
JM: Karen Neilson was a professor in the Teacher Education program and her field
was secondary education and literacy. Of course, I was an elementary person,
but that made little mind. It was my first experience with taking somebody else’s
course and somebody else’s notes and trying to figure out what it was that I was
supposed to teach. She would have things in her notes like, “Come tomorrow
and it will be a big surprise about this or that.” I would think, “What is the big
surprise that I’m going to come up with?” She extended her contract with the
DODS schools, so I had an opportunity to come to Weber. This was at the time
of the WILKITS. The WILKITS were packets of materials and students moved
through them at their own pace. Many of us from traditional education settings
had difficulty with this notion because there were no set classes and we met with
students individually. For some students it worked wonderfully and for others it
didn’t work well at all.
RL: Was that something that was just here at Weber, or was that a trend?
JM: It was a new trend across the country in some ways and people came from all
over to see the programs at Weber.
RL: Was it solely in education?
JM: Yes, it was only in education. A group of professors in Teacher Education had
come to Weber at about the same time and they decided they could develop this
program. They received a big federal grant so that they could be freed up for an
Page 4 of 35
entire year to develop all the program materials. The thing they didn’t really have
time to do was to develop the assessment materials that went with it. I went
through this program when I came to Weber to get a license to teach. For me, it
was good. I’m quite self-motivated and I balance my time well, but for many
students it was a nightmare. There were no deadlines so you just moved through
it at your own pace.
RL: That has a similarity to some of our online courses now, doesn’t it?
RL: You have students that are very motivated and jump right in. I’ve had students try
to turn in all of the assignments in the first week of an eight week block. I tell
them, “No, we need to go through some things first.”
JM: Yes, it is the same idea. As I said, there were no set classes, so you’d just make
an appointment with your professor when you were ready to be checked out of
that particular module. I think they transported those modules all over the world.
There was a big program in the Middle East and Blaine Parkinson and Harley
Adamson made many trips. The college received a big national award for the
program. It was cutting edge at the time.
RL: We did have people from Weber who were involved with opening up a university
in the Middle East.
JM: That’s right. I think Blaine was one of them and he was dean of the College of
Education at one time. As some of us came to campus, we looked at teaching
and learning differently and felt the need to have more set classes where we saw
more than one student at a time. It was very time consuming for the faculty to
Page 5 of 35
meet one-on-one with students. By the end of the fifth or sixth year after I came, I
didn’t see any more modules.
RL: Were they just kind of eased out?
JM: They were. People had different feelings about them. Like anything else, if you’ve
had a hand in developing something you’re a real advocate.
RL: You have more ownership of it.
RL: Who were some of your colleagues when you came here?
JM: Some of them have been here a long time. Luan Ferrin, Jimmie Merrill, Keith
Burnett, and Burdett Johnson all came to Weber at about the same time.
RL: You mention a lot of men. Were there not as many women in education at that
time or just not in higher education?
JM: When I went to work for Weber district, there wasn’t a single woman
administrator in Weber School District. That’s a big school district. I think there
were a few more women in Ogden School District. As a child, I had a woman
principal and it wasn’t uncommon at all. Later, it seemed like you didn’t see many
women in administration. We saw a lot of women teachers and still do, but not
too many administrators.
RL: There were some women in upper level positions during World War II as a result
of the men being gone, but then I think it reversed.
JM: Yes. I’m sure it did. It was pretty much a group of men. There were two or three
women and they had been here a long time. They had been here at the time for
Page 6 of 35
RL: Did the men help to mentor you or was it more adversarial?
JM: It wasn’t adversarial. I’ll have to say that Don Sharpes was the one who really sat
me down and said, “Now, this is how you do your vitae and how you keep your
records and your file. Oh by the way, the ladies room is down there.”
RL: That’s essential orientation.
JM: I didn’t find that any one colleague did as much mentoring as they might have.
Cordell Perkes hired me. He was a chair at the time. He was a very good
colleague and was helpful. Dick Jones was the dean, at the time, in the College
of Education. He was also very helpful as far as I was concerned. When Dick
was named Dean of the College of Education, there were two other faculty
members that aspired to be dean, but they were not selected. I think Bob Smith
was the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the position now call Provost. He
made the choice and I think Dean Jones had a hard time because there were a
lot of good ‘ol boys who felt they were cheated and that they should have the
position. They didn’t like the way Dick ran the finances. I’m not sure it would have
mattered what he did or how he did it, they wouldn’t have liked it. For me, as a
new faculty member, he was a good dean. He gave me a lot of opportunities to
do different kinds of things and I appreciated that.
Cordell Perkes had come in not too long before I and he was very
supportive of changes and was looking for new ways to do things and
understood that there’s a freedom in being an academic. I think that one of the
difficulties with the WILKIT system was the fact that there wasn’t any academic
Page 7 of 35
freedom in terms of how we did things in a classroom. That kind of flew in the
face of what most of us believed.
RL: You came in 1983. When I arrived in 1990, we had three Master’s programs.
That would have been just seven years after you got here. I understand that you
were one of the ones that established the master’s program in education.
JM: Well, not really. When I came, the Master’s in Education was a combined
program with Utah State University. There were three people from USU and
three from Weber that sat on a steering committee. Within a year or so, I did do
that, which was wonderful and it taught me a lot about the program. Weber
faculty members were doing most of the teaching and that gave us some
grounds for saying that it should be Weber’s program since we were doing the
work with the students and teaching the classes. Don Sharpes was hired to head
up that combination of faculty from the two universities and to run the program. I
did have that nice opportunity to get in from the beginning on the whole thing.
When the program was finally declared independent, I did direct the master’s
program for about 13 or 14 years.
RL: Maybe that’s where I got the impression that you had helped to establish it. You
were in on the ground floor though.
JM: Yes. At the beginning, I had that opportunity along with the chair and somebody
else. I was Chair of Elementary Education during some of that time when we
were still a part of Utah State’s program.
Page 8 of 35
RL: What other kinds of things were happening on the campus that you might have
been involved with early on? There were some changes happening in the 1970’s
and 1980’s with the establishment of the Faculty Senate.
JM: That must have been earlier because when I came, there were stories about Joe
Bishop wiring the Faculty Senate room where we held meetings. The reason it all
came out was because somebody went to a little party after the Faculty Senate
meeting and there was a lot of information that was out. When I came they were
still reeling from President Bishop and the kinds of things that went on while he
was president. I think he was a man who was very suspicious about what faculty
RL: From what I understand, he was trying to pull in the reins at a time when the
Faculty Senate was starting to gain more academic freedom and more faculty
involvement and control.
JM: No question. When I got involved in Faculty Senate, it was one of the best things
that happened to me academically. For one thing, I worked with awfully
interesting people. Secondly, the Faculty Senate had gained a great deal of
power working with Rod Brady.
RL: I believe he left in about 1987 or 1988.
JM: Then Stephen Nadauld came. We became a university at that point.
RL: That’s right. That happened toward the end of 1990.
JM: There were a lot of changes at the university. We were suddenly looking at
ourselves differently. I think there had been an attitude that it was just an
extension of Harrison High. Part of that grew out of how faculty looked at
Page 9 of 35
themselves and how they looked at the school, not so much the townspeople
RL: Recently, I’ve heard a couple of things on television that have grated on my
nerves. There was a young man on one of the news programs that grew up in
Ogden. He was presenting an award of some kind and asked the young woman
where she was going to be going to college and she said, “Weber State.” He
said, “Oh, Harrison High School.” If I had been there I think I would’ve throttled
him. Not too long after that I heard someone on KUER, University of Utah’s radio
station, referring to us as Weber State College. I thought, “We’ve been Weber
State University for 22 years now. Attitudes have to change sometime and
people like you need to be taken to the wood shed.”
JM: In many ways faculty were their own worst enemies because they were the ones
who perpetuated it. It was a shame. Suddenly, university status did a great deal
for Weber in terms of attitudes. At the time, Weber State College was the biggest
four year college in the United States granting baccalaureate degrees.
RL: They had a large enrollment.
RL: There were a lot of things that were attractive then that still are now. The trend to
try and keep classes smaller and community involvement and different things
that have been developed here on campus are still attractive. When we were
going through the process to become a university there was a lot of squawking
from University of Utah and Utah State University about something being written
in that would prevent Weber State from becoming a doctoral granting university
Page 10 of 35
and that there were not to be massive numbers of graduate degrees. We haven’t
grown greatly, but we do have nine graduate degrees now. Certainly, the accent
has been on programs that add to the workforce and meet the need of not just
the immediate community, but of the state with the emphasis on providing an
educated workforce. I guess that’s kind of an extension of starting out your
program as a Utah State program.
JM: I think that’s true. The other thing that’s interesting is that if you look at the
graduation statistics at Weber, half of them are still two year degrees. They are
not baccalaureate degrees at all.
RL: Some students do go on to get their baccalaureate.
JM: A state the size of Utah could hardly afford two research universities. One of the
things I think the Board of Regents has done especially well is that they have
taken a look at programs and tried to avoid duplication. There is one medical
school in Utah and no dental school. There’s one law school. I think those kinds
of things make sense because a state the size of Utah really can’t afford to run
two medical schools or two law schools.
RL: Brigham Young University does have a law school. It’s privately funded, but even
so, it is a situation where we’ve got a couple million people in Utah.
JM: It’s growing, heaven knows. It’s a tiered system. California has the same kind of
tiered system. You have your research universities and you have your state
universities and it seems that’s where the growth is happening, perhaps more
than we need it right now. Utah Valley University is just huge and Southern Utah
is a master’s granting university again.
Page 11 of 35
RL: Of course, Dixie has gone from a two-year program to a master’s granting
JM: Price is a satellite for Utah State which is different, but the fact that Dixie is
getting university status in many ways is rather surprising. A lot of the people in
St. George are snowbirds, but apparently they seem to think they have a
population to support a university.
RL: It is the same administrator down there that helped Weber State become a
JM: Yes, Stephen Nadauld is there. It’s interesting, I think, that Utah has done a
pretty good job in figuring most of this out. I have great respect for the University
of Utah and Utah State University and they have significant programs that are
highly rated and they should be. I am proud of Weber. When I look at what’s
happened in the last couple years, I think about what happened with the music
RL: There’s a new advertisement showing our resident piano prodigy that says,
“Chose Weber State Over Julliard.” When you see that it picks you up.
JM: It makes you proud. Fan Ya’s success has resulted in more students coming for
the music program because of how well this young woman has done.
RL: She’s got the support of the administration.
JM: No question about it. It has been helpful. On top of that, I’ve never seen a girl or
a boy work harder than she does. She’s earned every inch of it.
RL: We also have a top-notch nursing program. Getting back to the College of
Education, are there students that you had in those early years that you have
Page 12 of 35
learned about their accomplishments and whom you feel got the basis for them
JM: Absolutely. That first year I taught at Weber, I taught secondary students.
Depending on their major, many were a challenge in a literacy course. In a lot of
other courses they were as well and the students would say, “Well, in our majors
we never write.” It was a challenge for me. One of my very finest students was
Jeff Stephens, who is now superintendent of Weber School District. He got his
master’s here and he went off and got his doctorate. There are many that I see
who are school principals, wonderfully successful classroom teachers, and
reading coaches. I’ve been teaching the level two reading coaching class for
about five or six years now and most of them have Master’s degrees when they
come back to get this extra certification. They are the cream of the crop. They’re
bright, hard-working and they make a huge difference in school.
RL: They come back to Weber State, and I don’t think that’s necessarily just for the
JM: I don’t either, although that plays a role.
RL: I think they are looking for a quality program.
JM: I think so. Weber has made a huge effort to maintain the class sizes. I think the
faculty reaches out to students in good ways. There are not classes that are
taught by students who do not speak English which is a huge advantage. One of
my boys did a doctorate at the University of Utah and in the last year he said, “It’s
a do-it-yourself thing. This fellow doesn’t speak any English at all and it really is a
do-it-yourself educational program.” That doesn’t happen at Weber. Faculty
Page 13 of 35
teach the classes, which I think matters. I think our graduates that are out in the
field tend to think, “I did well as an undergraduate at Weber. I’ll go back and do
some graduate work there.” One of the things I am most proud of was that in our
Master of Education program, we maintained high standards. Students did a
thesis or a project which was very scholarly. Everybody at that stage knows how
to take classes and how to pass classes. The thing that really separates the men
from the boys is doing some research and writing about it. I’m proud of that. I
think that our master’s program in education can stand up to anybody’s.
RL: The emphasis at Weber has changed somewhat in the last 20 years and there’s
more of an emphasis for the faculty to have more scholarship and research
involvement. That still hasn’t changed their role with the students.
JM: You’re absolutely right.
RL: Certainly, Weber has won some kudos for bringing the National Undergraduate
Research program here to Weber. Also, the Undergraduate Literature
Conference we have every year is still used as a cookie cutter model for other
places. In Teacher Education, you had the ISTE international group of people
here from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Africa. That has to be a feather in
JM: I think so. Along that whole line is that the College of Education has managed
their endowment well and it has given faculty opportunities to attend conferences
in a variety of places both in this country and abroad. They’ve had opportunities
to make contacts with scholars and teachers and that’s been valuable.
Page 14 of 35
RL: Has Teacher Education done anything in terms of cooperative programs? Are
there sister universities or programs that you’ve maintained?
JM: I think the one thing I can think about is when I first came to Weber, one of the
faculty members originally came from Arizona and she had done a lot of work
with Native Americans on the reservations. She was a really brilliant lady and her
field was reading. When she came to Weber, she wrote some grants and we
ended up taking our teacher education program to Blanding. I was the new kid on
the block, so I taught quite a bit in Blanding and Bluff, which was an eye-opener
for me. Most of them were Navajo students seeking education degrees in order
to teach. At that time in Blanding, there was an elementary school and I would
say maybe 80 percent of the youngsters were Native American children. There
wasn’t a single aid, teacher, or administrator that was Native American. In Bluff, I
think 98 percent of the children were Native American kids and there not a single
teacher or aid that was Native American. We took that program down for a
number of years and we trained a number of teachers, which I think changed the
whole educational environment down there. Some of them didn’t end up in
teaching, but ended up in federal agencies where their educational background
RL: They advanced beyond what had been available previously.
JM: It was interesting because the way the Pell Grants worked then was that they got
the money no matter if they completed a class or not. Quarter after quarter, you’d
have some of the same people in the class because they never finished a class,
but they got their Pell Grant so that they could go to school. It also supported
Page 15 of 35
them for food, rent, and all of their living expenses. The Navajo culture is very
matriarchal and many of the men didn’t work or there wasn’t work for them.
There were high rates of alcoholism. The women would come to class and the
men would stand along the back wall like, “Don’t you teach my wife anything, it’ll
change the world.” Many of the women were very ambitious and looked at their
children and thought, “It’s going to be up to me or these kids are going to end up
like their not very good dad.” We had quite a bit of success with that. Many times,
these teachers would come up in the summer to take classes on the campus.
They’d bring their kids and live in the dorms. It was a big sacrifice for them. It was
wonderful for us. Certainly, it was an opportunity for me, who came from a
background where I knew very little about Native American populations. When I
went to college, it was very un-diverse. We were mostly white, middle-class kind
RL: We’ve been lucky at Weber that several of our presidents have put an emphasis
on diversity and unity. I know when I got here, I started looking around at our
student body and someone had mentioned that Weber and Ogden School
Districts were something like 25 percent Hispanic, Latino, etc. When I looked
around on campus, there were fewer than one percent of our students that fit into
that category. Certainly, it’s not up to 20 or 25 percent, but we are more between
5 and 10 percent now.
JM: Exactly. Families that perhaps never anticipated college for their kids are looking
at education differently.
Page 16 of 35
RL: We are certainly seeing a lot more brown faces, Asian students, Pacific
Islanders, etc. I think that changes the flavor of the University in the right
direction. In regard to that, you started here when we had President Brady and
when he left Stephen Naduald came and then Paul Thompson and F. Ann
Milner. That was a big feather in Weber’s cap too, having a female president.
JM: She was a very successful female president. It was at a time when Eastern Utah
had hired a woman who ran through the money like water through the creek.
When she left, that little college was in horrible condition because the money had
been spent. I never went to a conference anywhere in the United States that she
wasn’t there. I would think, “This isn’t your field. Why would you be interested in
this?” Ann came with an excellent background and she’d been well-trained by
Paul. She was a very successful woman not only on our campus, but across the
state and with the legislature.
RL: She was well-respected.
JM: Absolutely. It is a feather in Weber’s cap. No question.
RL: As far as the different administrators and the type of ship they sailed in terms of
their styles, did that affect your career in any way?
JM: I think it did. When I was active in the Faculty Senate and I was faculty chair for
three years and co-chair for three years.
RL: You were the second woman to do that?
JM: Yes. I think Rosemary Conover was the first one. I had a good six year run,
which was nice. Paul Thompson was the president and he very much believed in
shared governance. He gave us lots of opportunities to be heard and he was
Page 17 of 35
good to work with in that he felt that there were a number of things about which
the faculty needed to have an equal voice, to have a say and to be able to ask
the hard questions. For most of us at that time working in faculty governance, we
had great opportunities.
RL: I think he was more willing to accept some of the suggestions coming out of the
Senate. I remember at one point I was chairing the Academic Standards
Committee and I was given a list of 13 or 14 things that needed to be
accomplished. That was about the time of the Gulf War and we were having to
come up with policies regarding students who were pulled out of class and sent
to the Middle East and what were we going to do with them when they came
back as far as tuition or letting them finish classes. There were a lot of major
things that were being determined then that our committee was involved with. We
ended up coming up with the tiered admission thing so that we could still meet
the mission of the University, but take on the new issues that we were facing. I
think that was a time when people did have a voice. As far as your involvement in
heading up the Faculty Senate, were there major things occurring that you
needed to deal with? What were they and what were some of the outcomes?
JM: When I started in affairs of Faculty Senate, Tom Burton was the chair. He
appointed me to the Curriculum Committee and that was both curriculum and
general education at the time.
RL: So you came in as a new faculty member first?
JM: Yes. Then I became chair of the Curriculum Committee. At the time, curriculum
and general education were combined into one committee. Of course, we didn’t
Page 18 of 35
have the technology, so everything would be delivered to my office and there
would be a stack of papers to read through. Those were very different times. I
look back at the number of trees we must have killed. Tom was a good mentor
and a good trainer. Curriculum and General Education was a great place to start
and became something that I continued to work in while I was at Weber, until the
last few years. One of the things that happened during the time I was in Faculty
Senate was the big conversion to semesters from quarters. I still maintain that
most of my students, even some of my graduate students, have a ten week
attention span, not a 15 or 16 week attention span. The state said it would
cheaper and of course it wasn’t cheaper, it cost tons of money to make the
conversion. It was far more complex than any of us thought. We made a lot of
presentations about the change and why not.
At the time, I was on the State Committee for General Education and that
was a wonderful time because it was the first faculty committee that was under
the Board of Regents. Each of the colleges and universities was represented. I
was on that for about 15 years and we did a lot of things. The legislature decided
the institution needed to have some common numbers, particularly for general
education courses. We did a lot of that without wrecking people’s individual
programs. Most students in Utah at some time or another attend another
university somewhere in the state. With some common numbers in those
undergraduate courses in general education, the transfer was easy. For me,
personally, working with the faculty leaders from across the state was a
wonderful experience. They were the brightest of the bright. It gave me access to
Page 19 of 35
friendships and acquaintances that I never would have had and it allowed me to
know who to talk to at each university when something came up.
Another group I really liked working with was the group of Faculty Senate
presidents. In fact, that’s where I met our present president. He was the
President of the Faculty Senate of the University of Utah when I was active at
Weber. He was a good chemistry professor and very bright, so now for him to be
our president is an interesting kind of thing. Anyway, they were wonderful,
interesting, smart people that had lots of ideas. We had a lot of respect. We were
appointed by the Board of Regents and then appointed within our universities.
Bob Smith put me on, so that was a long time ago. I learned a lot about higher
education and I also learned a lot about the curriculum and systems within our
state and how well most of them work. The change from quarters to semesters
was also a big deal.
RL: That was in the mid-1990’s, wasn’t it?
JM: Yes. I think it was about 1995. That was a really big switch. In some ways, it
made us come into a commonality with other universities within our state. I have
to laugh because all the arguments about why semesters are so much better
than quarters are a crock. There are wonderful universities across the United
States that are still on quarters like the University of Oregon, Stanford, Columbia,
RL: Judy, you’ve talked a little bit about your involvement with the Faculty Senate as
chair and the General Education/Curriculum Committee after you stepped down
as chair. At about that time, we had a big push with the diversity requirements in
Page 20 of 35
the classes and the Curriculum and General Education became separate
committees and they are very involved.
JM: Yes, and I went back on General Education just a few years ago.
RL: You mentioned that, so what I wanted to ask you how that worked out for you
and did you stay involved with that until you left?
JM: Yes, until about last year, I continued to serve on senate committees.
I served on a number of senate committees, which was wonderful. I think
they seemed to value my background and what I’d already done and it worked
well for me because I really enjoyed working with my colleagues. During the time
I was senate chair, I was also head of Teaching and Learning because our
person left. I was wearing two hats and I had three offices instead of two. It was a
busy time. My department was good about the release time and at that time the
Faculty Senate had some money, so we did get release time, which was a huge
help, I couldn’t have done most of what I did if I hadn’t had some release time.
RL: This was during the time of Paul Thompson’s presidency?
JM: Yes it was.
RL: Then he left and Ann Milner stepped up to the plate and hit a few home runs.
JM: Right. While Paul was president and Eisler was the provost, I worked a lot with
Eisler and when it came time to name a new president, it was between him and
Ann, do you remember that?
RL: Yes. I had been off campus then for a little while.
Page 21 of 35
JM: He was the provost and was an academic and Ann was someone who came
through Continuing Education and Paul had mentored her wonderfully. Of
course, she is a bright woman and she did a good job.
RL: She had been involved with Development.
JM: She had all of those kinds of things on that side of the university.
RL: Those are important too.
JM: Well, raising money is always important in universities. For Ann, I was surprised
when she stepped down when she did simply because the capital campaign was
her baby. I was just really surprised that she didn’t see it to the end.
RL: She did mention when she first started that she would take it and put in ten good
years and that’s what she did. Were you involved with any of the things that she
helped to develop?
JM: I’ve been on the University Capital Campaign Committee, so if raising money is
part of it, yes. I am head of the committee for the College of Education even
though I’ve retired.
RL: Speaking of the College of Education, you would have been through a few deans
JM: That’s one way to put it, yes. When I came Dick Jones was the dean. As I said,
he came in without a level playing field in many ways because there were two
faculty members that thought they should have been the dean. That made it
really hard. He did some things really well and some things less well, but it’s true
of all of us. There was finally a vote of no confidence and I think that Bob Smith
decided it was probably time for him to go before there was a formal vote of no
Page 22 of 35
confidence. It wasn’t over anything dishonest or anything like that. There were
just enough differences so he left. Then they hired Green, and he was the first
African American dean on campus. Again, like any dean, he had his interests
and did some things really well and some things not so. Jack Rasmussen was
the next. He had been here as a faculty member so most of us had worked with
him. He was a good teacher and he seemed to be a good administrator, so when
he applied for the position we were interested. He was the dean in North Dakota
at a university. We were happy to have him back. The known is always kind of
nice and we knew what to expect. I think he’s been an effective dean. I think he’s
had the respect of the faculty, he’s good to work with, and he’s a dependable
RL: How long has he been here now?
JM: I’m not sure. I think he’s been here for maybe seven years. He’s the senior dean
RL: You were talking about his being supportive. Was there a difference in the level
of support you got from each of those deans?
JM: I had wonderful support from all of them, I can’t complain at all. There was
always money for me to present at conferences. Ray Reutzel, who was a
professor at Utah State and I applied for the editorship of, The Reading Teacher,
which is the premier journal of the International Reading Association and
received the appointment. That was a five year thing and they came out and
visited with the President, Provost and Dean to make sure that I would have the
support I would need to do the job. They did the same at Utah State for Ray. I
Page 23 of 35
had release time for it and I had financial support from International Reading. My
dean could have said no. It was when Green was the dean. I guess Eisler must
have been the provost and Paul was the president and they met with all of them
to say, “Can she do this? Will you give her support and release time?” There was
no question. It was a prestigious journal to begin with and it was nice that
westerners were nominated and chosen to do this. I learned a great deal from
that experience. Reading has been the thing that I’ve been most interested in, so
that was a wonderful thing.
RL: It’s a basis for many things in education, isn’t it?
JM: I think it’s the basis for learning when it comes down to it. I think for the
youngsters who struggle it isn’t just learning how to read, it’s how to use literacy.
In your position you know all about that.
The other thing I’ve had a lot of support on for 28 years is running a
reading and writing conference every summer. The State has given me some
money and Weber has given me some money and support. This is the first
summer that we haven’t done it. We’ve brought to campus outstanding people in
the field of reading and writing to do the conference. That has been a wonderful
thing for our students and for our teachers in the field. Things like that I will miss
terribly. I do miss them.
RL: Were there other national programs that you were involved with that you got
particularly good support for?
JM: Yes there surely were. Of course, going to conferences is part of it and
presenting at conferences takes support. I was on quite a few national
Page 24 of 35
committees for reading and literacy and children’s books. Those people tend to
be a community that knows one another. For me, it was a broadening kind of
thing. It gave me people I could call on to hire for my reading conference.
Probably the thing that gave both Ray and me the most exposure was that
editorship. Ray went on and served on the Board of Directors of International
Reading. He has an endowed chair at Utah State. He’s a good scholar and good
teacher and all those kinds of things.
RL: You’ve mentioned that you’re retired, but you’re still here on campus.
JM: Yes, but I am coming to the end. I had a substantial grant from the State to run
the level two reading endorsement classes. There are three of them. There’s a
research class, an internship and a professional development class. The
audience for those classes consists of people that have a level one endorsement
in reading and are aspiring to be reading coaches in the schools. The level one
classes can be taught within the school districts. For a long time we taught some
of them and I have to laugh because I still see my syllabi floating around being
used in the schools by somebody else.
Level two has to be taught through the universities. Weber held on to
those, but the problem is that the size of the audience for the classes is not very
predictable and often not very big. Weber State University serves Box Elder,
Davis, Weber and a few from Ogden school districts.
RL: Of course, we now have an information literacy requirement for graduation here
and to have the local school district do away with all of the media specialists…
Page 25 of 35
JM: It doesn’t make a bit of sense. Particularly in a district where there are more
needy children than any district along the Front. They need those people. They
are wonderfully well-trained. They are superb teachers.
RL: The Regents said, “We need this computer and information literacy.” One of the
things that we were finding was that they were coming to us from the high
schools unprepared. One of my colleagues wrote in a letter to the newspaper
about seeing students come in and they’ve already written the paper and then
they do the research because they need three references to put with the paper.
Something is not right.
JM: Something is not right.
RL: Interesting times in the Ogden School Districts.
JM: They have been interesting times for a long time. I know they are dealing with a
lot of things that are difficult. I had a friend who was an administrator and we
were talking about second language. He said, “It isn’t the second language that’s
the problem, it’s the poverty that’s the problem.” There are a lot of needy children
and they need excellent teachers. Those media people are excellent teachers.
They’re cutting out all the part-time reading coaches as well. There are 240 and if
they have them for 30 hours they don’t have to pay any benefits. The whole thing
is disgusting as far as I’m concerned.
RL: In terms of your time at Weber, it sounds like you’ve accomplished a lot in the 30
years that you’ve been here on campus. Are there things that you were involved
with that didn’t succeed?
Page 26 of 35
JM: Well, who’s going to say yes to that? I’m kidding. There are certainly things that
were successful at different levels. Some of the things I look back and I wonder
why I ever opened my mouth.
RL: It’s perfectly alright for you to talk about that because it was something that you
were concerned about. Were there things that you wish you had done and
weren’t able to for financial reasons or maybe Weber couldn’t get involved
because it wasn’t the right time and place? As far as the big picture, were there
other things that you would have liked to have seen?
JM: When I came to Weber, I still had three youngsters at home. I was pretty place
bound. After that, I went through a divorce and my two boys were then grown
and out of the house and my daughter was in college. I started late with my
academic career. I stayed home until my youngest was seven and didn’t go back
to work. Then, I had to get a license to teach school. I was place bound for a
number of years. I think had I done things earlier, I might have left Weber and
had some other kinds of experiences. At the time, with my personal life, when it
was time to do those sorts of things, it was late to do them. I loved Weber and
quite frankly, I think, “Where would I have had the opportunities that Weber has
I had never thought I planned my life particularly well if you want to know
the truth. I’ve kind of fallen into things without as much planning as I might have
done. When I finally decided to go back to school and to teach, the hook that
really was there for me was that I was fascinated with how children learn to read.
What is it that happens in our brains? In watching children who struggle, what is
Page 27 of 35
the difference in how they look at the world or how they process everything from
children who don’t seem to struggle? Luckily, my children did not struggle, and I
did not struggle. Having worked with youngsters in school who do struggle, I
thought it would be tough if I worked with these kids in school and then had to go
home and work with my own, but my children did wonderfully academically. I
really liked Weber and with a university this size, you can make some
differences. When I was in college and got this music degree I could have taught
piano maybe, but I didn’t know how to do anything. I didn’t know how to type
when I graduated from college. I went to Wright-MacMahon Secretarial School in
Beverly Hills for a year and learned how to do all kinds of secretarial things.
RL: Was this after you finished you bachelor’s at Stanford?
JM: Yes. That’s how I happened to come home and work for Amalgamated Sugar
and then for Security Corporation. I had wonderful jobs.
RL: When you mentioned being an executive secretary, I was wondering if that
position had required a Bachelor’s degree.
JM: Well, let me tell you some of the things I did for First Security. I worked for Willard
Eccles and I wrote all the Board and Executive Board minutes for the
corporation, although, I never went to a meeting. He did all the public relations
and advertising for the corporation and I learned a lot. I probably would have
gone on working for First Security, but I married and when my first baby was
born, I didn’t work again for another ten or fifteen years.
When I came back to school, perhaps if I had been more thoughtful about
what I really wanted to do, I might have done something other than education. I
Page 28 of 35
don’t know. My father was a physician. The summer between high school and
college, I worked in the newborn nursery at the old Dee Hospital and just loved
it. I wanted to go to nursing school. My father wouldn’t hear of it. Those were the
days. He said, “No, you’re not going to go to nursing school. You have the wrong
thumbs for the bed pans.” So, I didn’t do that.
In college, I had developed a lot of other interests as well. I look back and
think probably what I would have done in a different era would be to have gone to
medical school. I was bright enough to and I think I would have really liked it.
RL: The mentality then was that women in medicine were nurses.
JM: They were odd ducks if they went to medical school. My father just couldn’t see
that for sour apples. He was a physician and he couldn’t see this thing at all.
Later on, we had a lot of talks about this whole thing and his outlook changed. I
had one female friend in law school and a couple in business school. Most of
them were in more traditional majors for women. I have a niece who graduated in
law and my daughter is in architecture, both nontraditional women’s fields. My
generation was different.
RL: Well, we have touched on a lot of different things. What about your time at
Weber? Are there things that you might have done differently other than having
gone somewhere else? I’ve seen a lot of people here on campus who leave and
come back because this is a great place to be.
JM: And I am not sure that I would have left. I liked the administrative experiences I
had. I was department chair, and I directed the graduate program for 13 or 14
years. I had a lot of freedom on that because we developed a thesis system.
Page 29 of 35
When I got here they were doing some little paper that was paper bound and we
said, “No, this does not look like professional scholarly work.” We did a lot with
curriculum and all that was very satisfactory to me.
The other thing I guess I could mention are civic kinds of things that have
mattered to me. I was president of the Junior League before I ever came to
Weber. I’ve been on the symphony board for a long time. I’m a Commissioner for
Landmarks for Ogden City and I’m on the Heritage Board. Those things are
interesting to me. I’ve been involved with the music department simply so I could
return to my roots. I’ve had fun knowing the people in the music department and
the students. I’m really quite busy. I think the thing that scared me most about
retiring was, “What if I don’t have anything to do?” Of course, I’ve been teaching
classes, but I won’t at the end of this semester because there’s no money to do
it, which makes me sad because I just loved my students. The reading coaches
were the brightest of the bright. They were just wonderful.
My connection with the school districts, particularly with the Weber and the
Davis districts has been very satisfying and keeps your hand in to see what’s
happening out there. I will miss that. I still serve on the Board of the State
Reading Association and I get to see all of these great people I’ve either had in
school or known. They have moved ahead and have done wonderful things in
their lives and I am proud of that.
RL: That’s wonderful. Sometimes you can go to a banquet and pick up lots of things
and you walk away and you’re still hungering for something and then there are
other times when things fall into place and you can say that you were satisfied.
Page 30 of 35
JM: I think that is absolutely true and I still see a number of my colleagues from
Weber. One thing that was terrific about the Faculty Senate work was that I had
the opportunity to meet people in all departments. When I arrived, I was shocked
that there was so little communication between the College of Education,
particularly Teacher Education, and across campus. It just didn’t happen.
Accreditation meant that it had to happen and working in the Senate allowed me
opportunities to meet people across the campus that I never would have known.
RL: I think with things like the Community Involvement Program and the Teaching
and Learning Forum and all of the programs now for helping people develop
online classes and so forth, people are interacting a lot more than previously.
JM: Yes. I think they are too. Ruby, were you here when we did Writing Across the
RL: I was.
JM: That was a wonderful time for exactly what you’re talking about.
RL: It brought people together from different parts of the campus and took you
someplace and you sat down and you could exchange ideas for how to teach or
how to develop particular processes and so forth. It was a good program. I think
Teaching and Learning came from that because Lee McKenzie was the one who
JM: She was a lovely lady. That was a tragic kind of thing.
RL: It was. When you said that you did Teaching and Learning Forum for a year, I
wondered whether that might have been about the time that Lee had to leave.
Page 31 of 35
JM: I can’t remember what the circumstances were, but suddenly we didn’t have a
director and Teaching and Learning fell on the Faculty Senate. We were doing
whatever we were doing to find someone to head it up as I remember. It was an
eye opener to me. I’d served on it at one time or another before that, so it wasn’t
completely new or anything.
RL: It was a great program, and I think Lee did a great job establishing it.
JM: She did. I remember that one of the faculty members who was perhaps the most
changed and it was most surprising was a fellow that was in accountancy. He
used it widely in his accountancy classes. You would think it would have been
history or English, but I’ll never forget that. He was such a proponent of the whole
thing. I thought that was a really good program. I liked all of the things that mixed
us up with other disciplines. I thought it really mattered.
RL: I think there’s more of that kind of thing happening now and it can only
strengthen the college.
JM: Absolutely. I think that this community outreach is a tremendous thing. I am really
curious to see how this is going to go downtown because I guess those spaces
are about completed on Washington. Is it going to be Continuing Education
classes or Adult Education? I have no idea what’s going to go in there, do you?
RL: I don’t.
JM: It’s wonderful space. I thought, “Good.” Remember when we were in the
basement of the mall?
Page 32 of 35
RL: Yes. I don’t know if you were involved or remember in the very early nineties,
before we had the whole Community Involvement Program, we had some of our
athletes working at the Lewis School helping children with teaching.
JM: I do remember that. There was faculty sending their students out to look at
things. In Education, we’d send them out because they’ve got to be in the
schools. Other disciplines were doing a lot of things as well.
RL: I like it here.
JM: I don’t blame you. I like it here too. I think it’s a good setting for students. There
are more and more kinds of things to engage the students. I liked the programs
where they put classes together in a cohort for new freshman. Those kinds of
things have been successful. They’ve helped kids not to get lost and provided a
way for them to become connected with other students, particularly if they’re
students that just commute. I’m happy to see the new dorms because I think it’s
more attractive to live on campus than ever before. I think that’s good. We have a
lot of administrators and faculty that have done good things to promote what’s
happening on our campus. It’s a beautiful campus and when I was walking over
here today I thought, “What a pretty time of year with the stream and the pond
and the beautiful trees and bushes.” It’s a beautiful campus.
RL: My brother was trying to explain to someone that I lived in an area where every
place you look is a postcard.
JM: What a compliment.
RL: Then he said, “No, come to think of it, she lives in a postcard.”
Page 33 of 35
It sounds as though your years here have been good and I’m glad to hear it.
Certainly, if you think of things later that you would have liked to have told us
about, please get in touch. I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
JM: You’re welcome. It’s been my pleasure.
RL: It’s been a good program for us and it’s good when we get someone like you
who’s been involved across the board and can help to build that picture of what
Weber State has been over the years.
JM: Don’t you feel it has come a great, far distance in terms of sophistication?
JM: I think that it’s become more scholarly.
RL: It’s certainly not Harrison High any longer, is it?
JM: It surely is not. One of the things that I think has made a difference is that the
standards for tenure have changed. That was another thing we did in those years
in making Weber a more scholarly university—higher demands.
RL: We’ve been able to maintain some of the earlier things, regardless.
JM: For teaching there is no question about it. The standards for hiring people have
become more comparative with other universities. When University of Utah or
Utah State complains about Weber I have to laugh because I think of the
numbers of faculty that were trained in those two institutions and if there’s
something wrong with this then it’s their fault, not ours.
RL: We keep showing up on more and more national lists and I think partly it’s
because of people like you.
Page 34 of 35
JM: Well, thank you, that is a compliment. As I say, like you, I have not regretted my
years at Weber. I’ve been proud of them.
RL: Thank you for being with us today.
JM: You’re welcome.
Page 35 of 35
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.