125 Weber State Facts in Honor of the University’s 125th Anniversary
OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University turns 125 on Jan. 7, 2014. Many milestones mark that long history. Since 1889, the university has moved, grown and changed its name, but it has never changed its focus on helping students discover their passion and reach their educational dreams.
Community members are invited to join the celebrations and wear purple on Jan. 7 in honor of the occasion. More information can be found at alumni.weber.edu/dream125.
Discover how the university lost and found its victory bell, got its mascot and moved to its current location.
On Jan. 7, 2014, Weber State University will announce “Dream 125: The Campaign for Weber State” — the largest fundraising effort in WSU’s history — to raise $125 million in support of students, faculty and facilities for the next 125 years.
- 125,000+ alumni will have a Weber State degree (associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s) by the time the Dream 125 campaign concludes.
- Weber State boasts 183,467 total alumni.
- In just six years, WSU’s student population has jumped from 18,000 to more than 25,000.
- Low tuition, combined with scholarships and financial aid, means WSU students graduate with the least amount of debt compared to other public universities in the state.
- WSU ranked No. 1 in 2013 among Utah public institutions for lifetime return on investment.
- WSU offers more than 225 undergraduate degree programs.
- The average student-to-faculty ratio is 21:1, and four out of five courses have fewer than 30 students.
- Twenty percent of WSU classes are taken online.
- Weber State’s first graduate program, the Master of Education, enrolled its first students in 1978. WSU now has 11 master’s programs. In 2010, it became the first university in Utah to offer a stand-alone Master of Taxation degree.
- On Jan. 7, 1889, Weber Stake Academy opened. On that first day, approximately 100 students crowded into the red-brick church meetinghouse on the southwest corner of Grant Avenue and 26th Street.
- Louis F. Moench served as the first principal of Weber Stake Academy. He agreed to guide the fledgling school for $125 a month.
- Tuition at Weber Stake Academy in 1889, 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 academy moved to the Ogden Tabernacle in 1890 to accommodate a growing number of students, but its tabernacle home was short-lived, derailed by provisions of federal anti-polygamy legislation and fear that the government would confiscate the building if it were used for nonreligious purposes. The school closed suddenly, “keeping 10 students from graduating,” Moench wrote. The academy remained closed for 18 months while a new building in downtown Ogden was constructed.
- Weber State chose purple and white as its school colors in 1901.
- The first campus bookstore opened in 1911.
- The first college class graduated in 1917.
- In the 1931-1932 school year, President Aaron Tracy allowed tuition to be paid with produce and meat instead of money.
- In 1933, at the depth of the Great Depression, Weber College was transferred from the church to the state.
- With the GI Bill having passed in 1944, many World War II veterans were returning home in search of a college education. Weber College’s enrollment jumped from 465 students in the 1944-45 school year to 967 in 1945-46.
- After World War II, Weber State moved its campus to Harrison Boulevard. The Utah Legislature withdrew its support from Weber State in 1953, but an Ogden referendum deciding whether to return Weber College to the LDS church resulted in 80,000 "yes" votes and 120,000 "no" votes. The outpouring of public support reversed the legislative decision and ultimately cemented the relationship between college and town.
- In 1962, in its new home on Harrison, the college was granted the authority to transition from a junior college to a senior college.
- Weber State’s first student parking decals sold in March of 1967 for $1.
- In 1979, Weber State changed its mascot from Waldo Wildcat to Primo Peacock. The change, thankfully, only lasted a year.
- Weber State College officially became Weber State University on Jan. 1, 1991. Weber State University was formerly known as: Weber Stake Academy, Weber Academy, Weber Normal College, Weber College and Weber State College.
- The Signpost, Weber’s student-run newspaper, began publication in fall quarter 1937.
- In 1965, the FCC approved the school radio station, KWCR “The Beat.”
- WSU provides $104 million of financial aid to more than 14,800 students every year.
- Dream Weber offers eight semesters of free tuition and fees to any Utah resident whose annual household income is less than $40,000 and who is eligible for a federal Pell Grant. Currently, 1,400 students are taking advantage of this unprecedented opportunity. Dream Weber made 600 degrees possible — 252 bachelor’s and 400 associate’s — from 2010 to 2012.
- WSU currently has 217 student clubs and organizations.
- There are more than 1,000 beds in WSU’s residence halls.
- The average age of undergraduate students is 26, and nontraditional students, those who are 25 years or older, married/divorced/widowed or a parent, comprise 56 percent of the student body.
- In 2007, WSU created the Community Involvement Center, now known as the Center for Community Engaged Learning. The center provides both curricular and co-curricular community engagement opportunities for students, faculty and staff in partnership with local community organizations. The center creates connections and opportunities to give service, to grow through learning and experience, and to build a community that thrives.
- Under the auspicious of the Center for Community Engaged Learning, in 2012-13, WSU students performed the equivalent of $2.7 million of community service.
- The Weber State University Community Education Center opened in Ogden in 2013, providing support for underserved populations including minority, low-income and first-generation community members to access and complete post-secondary education.
- On Oct. 1, 2013, the Ogden City Council, mayor, WSU president and student body president signed the College Town charter initiative formalizing an ongoing partnership between the city and university.
- On Nov. 14, 2013, the March of Dimes Utah Chapter partnered with WSU’s Professional Business Leaders (PBL) chapter to open a Teddy Bear Den to promote healthy behaviors during pregnancy. Mothers-to-be earn points they redeem for items such as diapers and baby clothes at the den, located at the Midtown Community Health Center (2240 Adams Ave., Ogden).
- In 2013, Weber State returned downtown, with the opening of an 18,000-square-foot building on Washington Boulevard. The building, known as Weber State Downtown, will house a WSU Campus Store, café and 40-person classroom; will serve as headquarters for StartUp Ogden; and will be the home of WSU’s Small Business Development Center and Ogden City’s Business Information Center.
- A $3 million gift from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, in 2013, will allow WSU’s arts education program to eventually expand to every elementary school in the five districts WSU serves: Ogden, Weber, Davis, Morgan and Box Elder.
- In 2006, WSU’s Dental Hygiene Clinic teamed up with local dental professionals to participate in the Utah Give Kids a Smile charity organization. Annually, for one day in February, the clinic provides free dental services to children in need.
- For seven consecutive years, 2006-2013, WSU has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
- In 2008, WSU first received a Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Community Engagement classification, recognizing Weber’s dedication to working with the community.
- “Happy students” who enjoy “smart classrooms” and “solid preparation in general management” are why the John B. Goddard School of Business & Economics Master of Business Administration program has made “Princeton Review’s Best Business Schools” list every year since 2008.
- In 2010, WSU was one of 23 master’s institutions nationwide to produce two or more Fulbright scholars, an accomplishment that was recognized by the Institute of International Education. Since 1999, WSU has produced nine Fulbright scholars.
- In 2011, WSU received the “All-Steinway School” designation, joining a global group of more than 120 prestigious institutions of higher education (including Curtis Institute of Music, Yale School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory and Central Conservatory of Music in China) that exclusively feature Steinway & Sons pianos for performance and music education.
- WSU sophomore Fan-Ya Lin placed first in the 2010 MTNA Steinway Young Artist Piano Competition — the youngest winner in the competition’s history.
- The Plain Princess, written and directed by Jim Christian, has been selected to compete at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Feb. 12-15, 2014, at the Los Angeles Theater Center.
- WSU’s theatre program has been invited to present five productions at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
- The Weber State University Charter Academy (WSUCA) — Utah’s first charter academy authorized by an institution of a higher education — opened with a kindergarten in the fall of 2013. The academy focuses on educating children as a whole, using developmentally appropriate and research-supported curriculum and instruction.
- The NUSAT 1, the world’s first university student-developed microsatellite that was carried aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1985, began as a WSU senior class project; a replica is now part of the Smithsonian collection.
- Weber State offers the only engineering technology program in the Intermountain West, and has more computer science majors than any institution in Utah.
- Due to the increasing enrollment after World War II, Utah Senate Bill 134 was passed in 1947, directing the State Board of Education to acquire “a Suitable Campus for Weber College.” The bill was passed with the understanding that the people in the Ogden area 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. With coordinated efforts throughout the community, with alumni and with the college, $50,091 was collected by July 15, 1947. The property on Harrison Boulevard was purchased for $100,000 soon thereafter.
- The Rotary Club of Ogden donated $25,000 to construct a “suitable entrance to the new campus.” Its members are to thank for the iconic rock wall on Harrison Boulevard that greets students and visitors to this day.
- Classes began at the new “upper campus” on Harrison Boulevard on Sept. 22, 1954, with the “lower campus” still in operation downtown. The Ogden Bus Company transported students between the two campuses for 7 cents each way.
- By 1961, the Harrison Boulevard campus was populated with a number of structures, including the beloved Buildings 1-4 and a stadium. Stewart Bell Tower, named after alumni and philanthropists Donnell and Elizabeth Stewart, was built in 1971. It was the first campus facility to be named or memorialized.
- Inside WSU’s Lindquist Alumni Center, visitors can find a table that once belonged to Robert Todd Lincoln and an oak-back bar that spent a century inside a saloon on Ogden’s historic 25th Street.
- The Dee Events Center, dedicated Nov. 1, 1977, holds 11,592 seats.
- The Ethel Wattis Kimball Visual Arts Center, dedicated May 2002, was the first WSU building funded completely by private donations.
- The two-story, 73,000-square-foot addition to the former Weber County Ice Sheet, now Weber County Sport Complex, opened Oct. 22 and includes a new NHL-size ice rink, training and locker rooms on the ground floor, an indoor practice field, and a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning complex for university athletes.
- There are 55 major buildings at WSU’s Ogden campus, four at the Davis campus, and four off-site leased buildings.
- The proposed Tracy Hall Science Center is the No. 1 capital priority in 2014 for the state of Utah.
- The square footage of WSU’s combined buildings is 2,869,350.
- The Mount Ogden Hike started in 1922. This included erecting a flagpole and painting a “W” on the mountain. While the “W” is no longer painted on the mountain, the hike is a Homecoming Week tradition to this day.
- Weber freshmen in the 1930s were required to wear a striped beanie called “the dink” during Freshmen Week.
- In the 1940s, the freshman class sponsored the “Polygamist Prance,” a girl’s-choice dance that men could attend with more than one date, due to a shortage of men caused by WWII.
- After flares used to create a giant flaming “W” on the mountainside above campus ignited a 25-acre wildfire in 1957, Weber switched to electric lights.
- In 1982, WSU students, faculty, administration and staff created the annual Crystal Crest celebration to honor outstanding members of the Weber State family who have distinguished themselves in the areas of scholarship, talent, leadership, achievement and instruction.
- After the homecoming dance every year, students kiss under Stewart Bell Tower in order to become “True Wildcats.”
- Since 1969, WSU Salutes has honored qualified candidates who have led distinguished lives and demonstrated significant career achievements; have contributed to the success and reputation of Weber State University; and have served their community, state or nation with exemplary dedication.
- Authors such as Ray Bradbury, Norman Mailer and Russell Banks have attended the National Undergraduate Literature Conference, hosted by WSU’s Department of English since 1985.
- For 35 years, WSU’s annual Lindquist Family Symphony Pops Concert and Fireworks has drawn thousands of people to the Ogden campus. The popular tradition was started and continues to be sponsored by the Lindquist family of Ogden.
- For seven and four years, respectively, Weber State’s annual Science in the Parks and Arts in the Parks programs have partnered with the Ogden School District summer lunch program to bring science and arts to hundreds of Utah school children. While they eat lunch, they spend an hour participating in hands-on learning activities.
- For 17 years, WSU’s Annual Storytelling Festival has included performances from national, local and student storytellers, and has attracted thousands of attendees.
- It takes more than 125 hours of rehearsal time to produce one of the annual Orchesis Dance Theatre productions.
- 2013 marked the eighth time in nine years that a WSU student presented research to lawmakers at the prestigious national Posters on the Hill event held on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Presenters have come from a variety of disciplines, including psychology, social science, neuroscience and zoology.
- 2014 will see the 11th annual WSU Day at the Capitol, when alumni and departments across campus raise awareness of the university and its accomplishments by wearing purple and interacting with legislators. Students also share posters depicting undergraduate research projects.
- WSU has pledged to be 100 percent carbon neutral by 2050.
- In March 2014, WSU will host the 5th annual Intermountain Sustainability Summit.
- In 2013, for the second year, Princeton Review selected WSU as one of 320 schools in the U.S. and two in Canada that “demonstrate notable commitments to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation.”
- The Dee Events Center received top honors in 2012 in the entertainment/cultural facility category of the EPA’s Energy Star national building competition, also known as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Battle of the Buildings. The center cut its energy consumption by more than 20 percent, through energy-saving renovations and energy-efficiency training of the building’s staff.
- The Arbor Day Foundation named WSU a 2012 Tree Campus USA for the second year for its commitment to effective community forestry management.
- In 2012, Sierra Magazine ranked WSU as a “Cool School,” taking into consideration everything from “waging war on emissions to serving sustainable foods to teaching a verdant curriculum.”
- In the 2011-12 fiscal year, WSU saved $939,575 through reduced electricity, natural gas and water consumption. Some of the money-saving projects included: converting many university vehicles, including shuttle buses, to natural gas; insulating the university’s vast network of steam and chilled water pipes for improved energy efficiency; upgrading lighting to high-efficiency fluorescents; and installing solar panels on a number of buildings.
- WSU’s celebrated nursing program began in 1953, when Weber was one of seven schools nationwide selected to pilot a revolutionary associate’s degree model for nursing education in an effort to combat a devastating nursing shortage.
- The Weber State School of Nursing graduates more than 700 nurses per year, more than any other school in the state of Utah.
- In 2012, WSU outpaced perennial favorite Johns Hopkins University to be named the Best Radiological Technology Training Program in America by Auntminnie.com, an honor bestowed by professional peers in the field of medical imaging.
- The Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions received a $2.5 million grant in 2013 to double the size of two high-demand programs: health information technology and health information management. The U.S. Department of Labor rewarded the money through its Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program.
- In 2009-10, 78 percent of graduates from WSU’s Dumke Family Pre-Medical Program were accepted into prestigious medical schools, well above the 45 percent placement rate of pre-med programs nationwide.
- Weber’s youngster student ever, Jessica Brooke, enrolled at age 15. At age 16, she currently is a senior majoring in chemistry with plans for a medical degree.
- In the 1990s, WSU chemistry professor Edward Walker’s study of cranberries led to the discovery of ingredients that help prevent bladder infections. The research produced six patents.
- Weber State was the site of the state’s first crime lab, located on second floor of the Social Science. Evidence from real Utah crime scenes was analyzed there from the early 1970s to the early 1990s under the direction of Weber State’s first forensic science professor, James Gaskill.
- To determine the source of Utah’s air pollution, a team of physics students recently helped launch a high-altitude, data-collecting weather balloon 20 miles into space.
- WSU hosted the 2012 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), the foremost undergraduate research conference in the country. NCUR brought together students from 46 states, Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates to present their research and scholarly and creative works. There were 2,461 primary presenters; 184 were WSU students. Many faculty mentors accompanied the researchers, bumping the conference numbers to more than 3,000. The estimated economic impact of the conference was $2.6 million.
- Students in WSU’s National Center for Automotive Science & Technology (NCAST) created a free air-quality app. In fall 2013, they partnered with the Utah Division of Air Quality on the app that helps Utahans avoid adding harmful emissions during winter inversions.
- In the mid-1920s, a local sportswriter referred to Weber athletes as a “scrappy bunch of wildcats,” leading to the current reference. Prior to being called wildcats, Weber athletes were called “Weberites.”
- Weber State’s Victory Bell dates back to 1888, when it was first hung in Ogden’s old city hall building. The bell came to Weber State in the late 1930s after students convinced city officials to donate the bell to campus before the building was torn down. It soon became a symbol of victory. The bell went missing for years and was rediscovered in 2002 in storage under Stewart Stadium. It was restored and once again became part of Weber State athletic events during the first home football game of 2002.
- Dr. Reed K. Swenson served as the first athletic director at Weber State and held that position for 30 years. He also coached football and basketball in the junior college era.
- The first player of Asian descent to play in the NBA, Wat Misaka, played at Weber Junior College from 1941-43 and is a member of the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame.
- In 1959, the Weber College men’s basketball team, led by forward Allen “Stretch” Holmes, beat Bethany Lutheran Junior College from Minnesota 57-47 to win the National Junior College Athletic Association championship game.
- Since becoming a four-year institution in 1962, Weber State has won 113 team conference championships.
- Weber State is a charter member of the Big Sky Conference, joining the league at its inception in 1963.
- Dick Motta, the first men’s basketball coach in the NCAA era, won 120 games at Weber State in the six seasons as a Division I school. He went on to win 935 games in 25 years in the NBA and ranks in the top 10 in career coaching victories. He won an NBA title with the Washington Bullets in 1978.
- Phil Johnson, who replaced Motta as head coach of the Weber State men’s basketball program, won three Big Sky titles and is still the Big Sky’s all-time leader in coaching winning percentage. He went on to win NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1974. He was an assistant coach under Jerry Sloan with the Utah Jazz for 23 years.
- The Weber State women’s golf team won the Division II national title in 1982.
- Weber State and the Dee Events Center served as a host site for NCAA Tournament games four times (1980, 1983, 1986, 1994).
- Former Wildcat Jamie Martin won the Walter Payton Trophy in 1991, the only Wildcat to win the award as the top collegiate player in FCS football. Martin went on to play 16 years in the NFL.
- Legendary track and field coach Chick Hislop was the WSU men’s track coach for 38 years, the longest tenured coach in Big Sky history. Hislop won 21 Big Sky titles and served as an assistant coach for the USA Olympic team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
- Charles Clinger won the national championship in the high jump in indoor and outdoor track and field in 2001. He posted a jump of more than 7-08 that year, the best mark in the world at the time.
- Former Wildcat Eddie Gill scored the 8 millionth point in NBA history in 2001.
- Bill Schuffenhauer, a former WSU track and field athlete, was a three-time Olympian with the United States bobsled team, and won a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games.
- Lindsey Anderson became the first Wildcat to compete in the Summer Olympics when she ran in the steeplechase at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.
- Long before Weber State chose him, Damian Lillard chose Weber State … in a video game, that is. As a youngster, he didn’t know much about the Wildcats, only that they were the underdogs, and that he wanted to help them win. And he did, multiple times, on the video screen and eventually on the hardwood.
- After an illustrious career at WSU, Lillard was drafted No. 6 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. He took the NBA by storm, and was named the 2012-13 Rookie of the Year in a unanimous vote, only the fourth player in league history to do so.
- Long before Lillard became the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year, WSU men’s basketball upset No. 3 seed Michigan State and No. 3 seed North Carolina in NCAA tournaments.
- Damian Lillard is the only player in Big Sky history to be named to an All-American team.
- The Weber State men’s basketball team has the 23rd highest winning percentage in NCAA history. It has captured 20 Big Sky titles, the most of any school in the conference. The ’Cats have played in 14 NCAA Tournaments, the most in the Big Sky, in which they won six games, also the most in the conference.
- The Wildcat football team has had 50 players earn All-American honors.
- A total of 37 Weber State players have been drafted in the NFL.
- Weber State has had two players drafted as “Mr. Irrelevant,” the last player drafted in the NFL Draft. Cam Quayle (1998) and Tim Toone (2010) were both drafted last in the draft.
- More than 350 Wildcats have won individual titles or earned MVP honors at Weber State.
- Nearly 150 Wildcats have earned All-American honors.
- Four Wildcats, Farley Gerber, Paula John, Charles Clinger and Heidi Wallin, have won national individual titles for Weber State.
- Former Weber president Aaron Tracy (1922-1935) may best exemplify Weber State’s enduring legacy of a personalized education. Tracy mentored and encouraged a young student body president, making sure he kept up with his studies and helping him find jobs to cover tuition. Years later, that Weber alumnus credited Tracy’s attentiveness and encouragement as a defining experience in his future success. Tracy’s pupil, J. Willard Marriott, founded the international hotel and hospitality corporation that bears his name.
- Governor Olene Walker, Utah’s first female governor and WSU alumna ’50, gave back by establishing in the Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service.
- In 2007, former Republican National Committee chair Richard Richards established the Richard Richards Institute for Politics, Decency and Ethical Conduct at WSU to inspire ethical behavior and to provide scholarships to WSU students interested in politics.
Visit alumni.weber.edu/dream125 for more information about the 125 celebration, to see historical photos of the university or to upload a birthday message.