Campus Celebrates 50 Years on Harrison

OGDEN, Utah – Fifty years ago this fall, Dwight D. Eisenhower was halfway through his first term as president and America was still adjusting to the post-Korean War era. 1954 was the year "Sports Illustrated" debuted on newsstands, Elvis Presley recorded his first record, J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring" was published and M&M Peanut Chocolate Candies were introduced.

Amidst all these notable debuts, 1954 was also a milestone year in Weber State University's history. On September 22, 1954, students attended classes for the first time at Weber State's Harrison Boulevard campus.

The opening of the then 185-acre Harrison campus culminated a decade of lobbying, politics and determination by school administrators to position Weber College (as it was known at the time) to become the university it is today.

Like most American cities, Ogden experienced tremendous economic growth in the years immediately following World War II. Weber College saw its enrollment figures jump from 465 students in 1944-1945, to 1752 students in 1947-1948. Henry Aldous Dixon, president of Weber College, realized the school was quickly outgrowing its Jefferson Avenue location and began working with state and community leaders to secure a new location for the burgeoning institution.

According to newspaper accounts, Dixon told Ogden business leaders, "We have got to spread out and have a bigger campus. We are cramped in all around" at the Jefferson Avenue location.

By 1947, Dixon had successfully made the case for a new campus. The state legislature and community supporters contributed funds for the school to purchase 175 acres of land located East of Harrison Boulevard between 37th and 40th Streets. Ground was broken for the first buildings on the new site in February 1952.

In the fall of 1954, the campus consisted of little more than Buildings 1-4 and the football stadium. The campus community of 1,547 students and approximately 112 faculty and staff adjusted to a split-campus experience, with the Jefferson Avenue site still housing drafting shops, physical education facilities in the old gym, a photography lab, the radio workshop and assemblies, dances, school plays and public lectures. The Ogden Bus Company helped students commute between the two campuses, charging seven cents each way. Within five years, the need for bus service diminished as most of these activities relocated to the new campus.

Fifty years later, the campus has expanded to 526 acres, with 61 buildings supporting more than 18,800 students and more than 1,900 faculty and staff. In celebration of half a century along Harrison Blvd., a series of activities are planned this fall to recognize this milestone event in WSU history.

As part of the golden anniversary commemoration, the exhibit, "50 Years: Weber State University on the Ogden Campus," will stand in the Stewart Library atrium throughout fall semester, free and open to the public. In addition to historic photos, the exhibit features oral histories from some of the individuals who helped to establish the Harrison Boulevard campus.

For parking information, please call the Information Booth at 801-626 6975.

(Source material for this release came from "Weber State College…A Centennial History," edited by Richard W. Sadler, Publishers Press, Salt Lake City, 1989.)

Linda Sillitoe, special projects assistant for the Stewart Library

801-626-7351 ·

John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
801-626-7212 ·