Weber State University Magazine Spring 2014 : Page 20

What DREAMS May Come WSU ANNOUNCES LARGEST FUNDRAISING EFFORT IN ITS 125-YEAR HISTORY In 1877, German-born educator Louis F. Moench , serving as superintendent of Weber County schools, wrote a report to trustees. In it he said, “I beg leave to Kindly ask the members of the Legislature of our county, as well as county and city officers, to aid in establishing a college for our city, where our students may further qualify themselves for teaching, so that Weber County may maintain her position in education advancement with the leading counties of our Territory.” Amy Hendricks UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS

In The Footsteps Of Our Founding Fathers

Amy Hendricks

In 1877, German-born educator Louis F. Moench, serving as superintendent of Weber County schools, wrote a report to trustees. In it he said, “I beg leave to Kindly ask the members of the Legislature of our county, as well as county and city officers, to aid in establishing a college for our city, where our students may further qualify themselves for teaching, so that Weber County may maintain her position in education advancement with the leading counties of our Territory.”

Eleven years later, in December 1888, Moench accepted a great responsibility — for $125 a month, he agreed to guide a fledgling school named Weber Stake Academy. He saw it open Jan. 7, 1889, in an Ogden meetinghouse. He saw it struggle through financial hardships. He saw it grow. And we’d like to think he saw it fulfill his dream — Moench died in 1916, the year college courses were introduced into the curriculum.

Today, Weber State University stands on the shoulders of giants, of great dreamers like Moench and early faculty and Board of Education members who stretched resources, even mortgaged their homes, to meet needs, build buildings, hire the best of the best, and keep education inexpensive, so it would be “within the reach of the humblest in the land.”

With their help, Weber grew in both size and stature. And while much has changed since our humble beginning as an academy, Weber State has remained firmly dedicated to its students. To foster this legacy, the university has embarked on the largest fundraising effort in its history, “Dream 125: The Campaign for Weber State.”

But as we look to the future, let us also, for a moment, walk in the footsteps of our founding fathers as they worked to provide opportunities, advance knowledge and enhance campus, much like we are today.

THE EARLY YEARS

The year was 1889. With the finishing touches having been put on the transcontinental railroad 20 years earlier, Ogden had become the junction of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, prompting the Chamber of Commerce to adopt the motto, “You can’t get anywhere without coming to Ogden.” The train brought with it progress and people, including a rough-andtumble sort uncharacteristic to the pioneer village.

The average house cost approximately $5,000, a quart Of milk 56 cents. $1 at that time would have been worth around $27 today. Tuition at Weber Stake Academy, for a term of 10 weeks, was $3 for the preparatory department, $4.50 for the intermediate department and $6 for the academic department.

The needs were great. By the academy’s third term, enrollment had nearly doubled — to 184 — with every available seat occupied. A move to a larger facility was imminent. Work began on the Ogden Tabernacle to prepare it to accommodate the school. The academy’s tabernacle home was short-lived, however, derailed by provisions of federal anti-polygamy legislation.

A proper home was secured in 1890 on the west side of Jefferson Avenue between 24th and 25th streets, a location that was “sufficiently removed from the business part of the city and secluded from the sight and participation of many of the evils and vices existing in Ogden.” At a price of $22,900, Weber Stake Board of Education members mortgaged their homes to fund the project. The new academy opened on Nov. 23, 1891, to much excitement.

The school struggled financially over the next several years, and in the midst of the Panic of 1893, when the stock exchange crashed and the gold reserve was in rapid decline, school board treasurer Robert McQuarrie advanced $1,000 of his own money to pay faculty and cover ongoing costs.

It wasn’t until 1908 — the year that a second, much-Needed classroom facility opened at a cost of $40,192 — that contributions by faculty, students, church leaders and community members retired the school’s debt. It just so happened that then-academy President David O. McKay was enjoying a surprise farewell party — he had decided to dedicate full-time service to the LDS Church — when he received the financial news with “great emotion.” The evening concluded with a dance in the auditorium.

Many made great contributions that not only kept the school afloat in its early years, but also enhanced the quality of education for students, like the Christmastime donation of an organ by Glenn Brothers Piano Company of Ogden, or the $795 contribution by Ogden citizens to purchase instruments for the band. And, when small pox became a problem in 1919, with 20 students out with the disease, Dr. Harry W. Nelson generously offered to furnish a vaccine at no cost, as long as the vaccinations were administered in his office.

THE GREAT DEPRESSION ERA

About 43,000 of Utah’s 170,000 workers were unemployed.More than 30,000 Utah families were on relief. Twentyfive Utah banks had failed.

The average house cost approximately $7,543, a quart of milk 14 cents.
$1 then would have been worth around $13 today.

And apparently, due to shortage of funds, several of the college’s student debaters wished to resort to hitch-hiking to tournaments, a method of transportation that was denounced by the Board of Trustees. Responding to professor Leland Monson’s suggestion that “they be able to travel in a variety of ways,” the board said, “a hitch-hiking tour by debaters was not appropriate” and “if debaters could not go in a dignified way they should be kept at home.”

Fees at Weber had increased to $75 a year in 1931, the same year church president Heber J. Grant said, “Unless the state Legislature provides for the continuation of Weber and Snow colleges, neither school would be continued longer than the 1931-32 school year.” Weber’s faculty and administration, recognizing the hard times that had befallen the nation, allowed produce in lieu of tuition money. News of the “produce for tuition” plan was publicized widely, including in the Chicago Tribune.It was not only important to have students receive an Education, but also to have large numbers of students to justify the need for a junior college in Ogden.

In 1933, at the depth of the Great Depression, Weber College was transferred from the church to the state.

That same year, the Legislature recommended all state salaries be reduced by 15 percent. In 1934, Weber faculty voted to reduce their salaries by 10 percent rather than eliminate five teaching positions, as suggested by the state school superintendent.

A CHANGE OF LOCATION

The year was 1945. World War II was ending, and life in America was returning to normal. Economic conditions were on the upswing. The average house cost approximately $9,914, a gallon of milk 62 cents. $1 at that time would have been worth around $12 today.

And with the GI Bill having passed a year earlier, many World War II veterans were searching for a college education. Weber College’s enrollment jumped from 465 students in the 1944-45 school year to 967 in 1945-46.

As then-President H. Aldous Dixon watched students flood Weber College, he suggested to the State Board of Education that a committee be formed to study the expansion needs of the college. In 1946, Weber applied for 10 surplus buildings at Hill Field to become temporary classroom facilities on the downtown college campus.

In 1947, Utah Senate Bill 134 passed, directing the State Board of Education to acquire “a Suitable Campus for Weber College.” The bill was passed with the understanding that the people of Ogden would contribute one-half the cost of a new site for the college. The Chamber of Commerce pledged the support of the Weber County community to match the $50,000 appropriated by the Legislature. $50,091 was collected by July 15, 1947, and the property on Harrison Boulevard was purchased soon thereafter.

Students contributed more than 1,000 hours of labor at the new location, helping build a stadium. Even community organizations got caught up in the excitement, with the Rotary Club of Ogden donating $25,000 to construct a “suitable entrance to the new campus.” Its members are to thank for Weber’s iconic rock wall. And the Kiwanis Club planted trees and shrubs on the land.

Classes began at the new “upper campus” on Sept. 22, 1954, with the “lower campus” still in operation.The Ogden Bus Company transported students between the two campuses for 7 cents each way.

By 1961, the “upper campus” was populated with a number of structures, including the beloved Buildings 1-4 and a stadium. And with the 1962 commencement, another chapter in Weber’s history had come to a close, with the college not only having moved from downtown to Harrison Boulevard but also having been granted the authority to transition from a junior college to a senior college.

MAKING WEBER, WEBER

The year was 1967. The average house cost $22,700.The average annual income was $5,213.

And Weber had just hired the first full-time director of the development fund — a coordinated program to encourage gifts from alumni, friends and organizations, gifts that would provide much-needed support for students, faculty, programs and facilities.

Dean Hurst ’48, alongside the development fund board, would spend the next 24 years generating millions for the college, many of which would go toward the buildings and structures that are quintessentially Weber. One of the first gifts officially to come in was funding for the bell tower. Named for alumni and donors Donnell ’66 and Elizabeth ’25 Stewart — founders of the Stewart Education Foundation — it was the first structure on campus to be memorialized, setting the stage for future naming. Hurst fondly remembers getting the $225,000 check: “President (William ‘Bill’) Miller ran it down to the safe. We just weren’t used to checks of that size!”

Next up would be the Dee Events Center, named for Lawrence T. Dee. The $11.4 million facility received $5.5 Million in private sector funds, including $1 million pledges by the Stewarts and the Dees. The balance was paid through student fees and revenue bonds.

Over the next two decades, Hurst also spearheaded funds for the Stewart Library, the Ada Lindquist Plaza and the Marriott Allied Health Building.

Then, in 1987, a $1 million bequest by Mark Evans and Lola G. Austad put plans for another new building in motion, a building that would confirm Weber State’s and the community’s commitment to preserving the arts. In the next 10 years, private funds came in from supporters John A. ’39 and Telitha E. Lindquist, Barbara Kimball Browning, William Rice Kimball, the Stewart Education Foundation, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, and a host of others. Opened in 2002, the Kimball Visual Arts Building was the first academic building built entirely with private donations.

Take, for example, Todd Rose ’00. In 1989, the selfdescribed “quirky kid” was a high-school dropout with a 0.9 grade point average (GPA). Eleven years later, he was graduating from Weber State with a 3.97 GPA and a psychology degree, and moving cross country to

Cambridge, Mass., where Harvard’s Ph.D. program awaited. Rose credits his father, for challenging him to go to college, and three Weber State psychology professors, for not giving up on him. One even taught an extra class and donated his pay so he could hire Rose as a research assistant. Today, Rose teaches educational neuroscience at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and is co-founder and president of Project Variability, an organization that seeks to reinvent America’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to education.

And then there’s Cassie Cox ’03, who, at 18, became a widow and single mother to a young son when her abusive husband was killed in a car crash. A few years later, having been left with nothing, she enrolled at Weber State, where faculty heroes nurtured her passion for reading and refused to let her give up. One even called at 10 p.m. demanding to know why she hadn’t applied for a scholarship. Today, Cassie is an English teacher at Two Rivers, an alternative high school in the Weber School District. Most recently, she was instrumental in bringing Civil Rights history To life for her students when she successfully invited Simeon Wright to visit. Wright is author of Simeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till, which details the 1955 murder of his cousin.

“Throughout its 125-year history, Weber State has been launching students’ dreams, like Todd’s, like Cassie’s, like mine,” said Alan Hall ’69, chair of the Dream 125 Steering Committee and WSU’s Board of Trustees, Weber alumnus and successful entrepreneur. “It is absolutely amazing what our students can do when given what I like to call ‘transformative opportunities.’ Lives are changed when students work one-on-one with talented professors, when students nurture curiosity during undergraduate research projects, when students partner with faculty and community to enhance the lives of others, when students — who never thought they would — receive their diplomas. They are our inspiration. Please consider giving and help us carry on a tradition of making students’ dreams come true.”

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/In+The+Footsteps+Of+Our+Founding+Fathers/1620757/194015/article.html.

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