A Brief History of WSU's College Town Roots
After more than a century and a quarter of existence, Weber State University still answers the call of its community.
In 1889, nearly 40 years after the city of Ogden was incorporated, what was then Weber Stake Academy formed in service to the area. The first class, which consisted of about 100 students, could have scarcely known that the small religious academy would become a thriving, open-enrollment university with more than 26,000 students; campuses in Ogden and nearby Davis County; centers in the cities of Roy, Morgan and Kaysville; a Community Education Center; a Center for Continuing Education and Weber State Farmington Station.
Despite that phenomenal growth, Weber State has never forgotten its community roots, which are nourished by stories of mutual support. During the Great Depression, the university accepted livestock and produce as tuition payment, ensuring that students who were short on cash could still get an education.
The support the university lent during those hard times was reciprocated during the 1950s, when Ogden residents led the charge to keep Weber College a public institution. Through a referendum, those residents reversed a decision by the Utah Legislature and governor to return the university to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the 1960s, Ogden merchants ran newspaper ads that promoted not only their merchandise, but also My Fair Lady, WSU's first production in its new Fine Arts Center (now the Val A. Browning Center).
All along its timeline, Weber State was reaching out to its community, serving it in various ways. A desire to improve our community has pushed faculty, staff and students off of campus and into neighborhoods. That relationship was formalized in the mid 2000s with the creation of the Community Involvement Center (now Center for Community Engaged Learning, or CCEL). Since CCEL's inception, students have contributed nearly 1 million service hours to the community. That community involvement has led to Weber State being recognized as a Community Engaged Institution
Through a desire to not let our rich, community-oriented history fade, Weber State and Ogden City representatives formed the College Town Coalition (then College Town Initiative) in 2012. The coalition ensures that we'll have plenty more college-town stories to tell for years to come.