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David Trujillo and Brenda Kowalewski are the recipients of this year’s annual H. Aldous Dixon Award. The award ceremony and luncheon was held in the Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning on Wednesday night.
The H. Aldous Dixon Award is named after former Weber State University president H. Aldous Dixon. During the luncheon, the staff showed a video about Dixon and his time at WSU. He served at WSU from 1919-20 and 1937-53. He served as president during World War II. Dixon said World War II affected every aspect of campus life and limited his vision of where he wanted to take WSU. Dixon and his team responded by building WSU’s nationally recognized vocational and technical education program.
One of Dixon’s famous quotes is “You’ve come to Weber to learn how to make a living, but I want you also to learn how to make a life.”
Dixon was most noted for purchasing the land WSU is built on today, turning WSU into a four-year university and developing the vocational programs. After he left the university, Dixon served as a congressman for Utah and the president of the Utah State University Agricultural College, and he also taught at Brigham Young University.
Charles Wight, the current president of WSU, introduced both recipients of the award and spoke about the magnitude of community involvement.
“The two awardees that we are going to honor today really exemplify, to a large extent, the spirit that Aldous Dixon had in building a college that would engage in its community,” Wight said. “These days we’re trying to build ever-stronger relationships between Weber State University and downtown Ogden in order fulfill that legacy of building a college-town atmosphere for Ogden.”
Mary Hall, president of the WSU Alumni Association, awarded both Trujillo and Kowalewski their awards before giving them the chance to speak. Kowalewski, a professor of sociology, was awarded the Dixon first.
“Everyone who is here, I just want to say thank you for this honor,” Kowalewski said. “. . . I started contriving what it is that I do and have done in my 18 years at Weber State, and it boils down to three things for me. And it’s those three things that I think matter most, at least for me. It boils down to teaching, community research and building an infrastructure that helps to facilitate community-engaged learning.”
Kowalewski served as the director of Community-Based and Experiential Learning. Her task was to create the Community Involvement Center. The center started small, but now, five years later, has grown to 66 faculty teaching 197 formalized community-engaged learning classes.
Trujillo was next to be announced and awarded the Dixon by Hall. Trujillo has served as the director of Upward Bound at WSU since 1986. Trujillo earned a four-year athletic scholarship for track and graduated from WSU in 1970 with a degree in physical education. Trujillo spoke about his early life as a student athlete. He sustained an injury that kept him from a track meet and had to sit on the sidelines.
“I made a vow to myself that I would never let anything hold me back, and I would arise from the ashes and move forward,” Turjillo said. “In that moment, I also said to myself I would help anybody who heard the words ‘you cannot go forward.’”
Trujillo has brought hundreds of students from around the country to WSU. He said he is also passionate about helping students who don’t think they can afford to pursue higher education.