The son of a steel mill worker, he assumed he might follow in his father’s footsteps. A high school counselor convinced him otherwise, and Weissenburger went on to earn a degree in psychology, even while working at the mill to make ends meet.
More than 40 years later, Weissenburger will retire as interim dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services at Tarleton State University, where he has served in numerous capacities. A reception in his honor will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, in Ballroom A of the Barry B. Thompson Student Center.
“College was not an expectation for me,” he said. “As a first-generation college student, I understand the challenges so many students face. Graduating from college was daunting.”
Weissenburger spent more than a decade working as a psychologist for the former Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. He moved to academia in 1994, first as an assistant professor at the University of Central Texas, and joined Tarleton in 1999 as an associate professor of psychology and counseling.
Since then, he has served as a department head, associate vice president for enrollment management, chief of staff and now interim dean. Higher education, he said, shares some traits with counseling.
“The pursuit of money never drove me,” he said. “I wanted to work with others and be of service. Psychology and higher education both offered the opportunity to empower others in fulfillment of their dreams and ambitions.”
Under Weissenburger’s direction in enrollment management, Tarleton reached 10,000 students for the first time and grew more than 18 percent. He created the Office of Student Financial Assistant Services and began a student financial literacy program.
Other accomplishments include starting the McLennan Community College Student Counseling Center, creating psychology research lab space in the Math Building and launching the Intern-2-Learn program, recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as a Star Award finalist.
Today, Weissenburger said he remains exceedingly grateful for his education and the high school counselor who saw his potential.
“I believe public education is essential. It is a civic good, not simply a private benefit,” he said. “This is where the future of our society is developed. It’s for the betterment of our entire society.”
In retirement, Weissenburger and his wife, Adrian, plan to travel extensively. They will participate in an intensive Spanish-language program for three months in Ecuador.