UVU’s journey through time

Introducing a series on the university’s history


UVU’s campus in Provo when it was Central Utah Vocational School. Photo courtesy of Sorenson Archieves

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but does anyone know how the journey of a school begins?

As this school continues to progress from its recent entry into university status and a continual amount of growth with over 30,000 students, a look into the past is important to appreciate what is available now.

In the following weeks, there will be articles for anyone that has wondered where the school came from, its original purpose and how the landscape came to be. There are a few different eras of the school. The first will be the creation of the school through the 70’s, which is the far past and will be looked at briefly further on in this article.

The next phase will be from the 70’s into the new millennium. This will be followed by the present, from university status to the near future. The series will be concluded with a look into the future with some predictions of what the school may become in the next 30 years.

The school was first discussed in March of 1936, when the state legislature gave $100,000 for vocational education. The first affiliated classes began in 1938 with 12 classes.

In 1940, the classes were all moved into Provo and Alpine School District took over. The school was named Central Utah Vocational School. There were four classes offered, all for free.

According to the Utah Valley News from Dec. 14, 1940, the classes were: “1. Operation, care and repair of tractors, trucks and automobiles including gas and diesel engines. 2. Metal work, including simple welds, tempering, drilling, shaping and machinery repair. 3. Woodworking and building construction. 4. Elementary electricity, including operation, care and repair of electrical equipment.”

In 1955, the school nearly closed and needed the support of legislation to stay afloat. Wilson W. Sorenson was the director of the school and asked for the help of citizens to keep the school going.

The school recovered and began to grow, including an expansion into classes given to prison inmates. In 1963, the school switched names to Utah Technical Institute of Provo and then in 1966, it changed again to Utah Technical College at Provo.

In 1969, the college traded two and a half acres in Provo for 50 acres in Orem and over the course of the following years, this would become the main campus where the school stands today. Along with the move, the name changed to Utah Technical College.

The series will continue in future issues.

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