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History of the Uintah Basin Campus


Utah State University -- Uintah Basin Regional Campus - A Brief History

Prepared by John D. Barton

From early settlement of the Uinta Basin through the 1960s only a small minority of residents attended college due largely to isolation from higher education institutions. As early as 1940 there was an attempt to secure a junior college that narrowly missed approval by the State Legislature. A second attempt to establish a junior college was launched by the combined Uintah and Duchesne counties in 1959. The state legislature passed the measure and the governor signed a measure to build a junior college near the Uintah/Duchesne County line in Roosevelt. For the next two years hopes ran high, but funding failed to gain legislative approval.

Hope continued that a college would be located in the Basin. The economic vitality of any region rests, in part, on a well-educated public, and by the 1960s less than twenty-five percent of Basin graduates went on to post high-school training. With firm resolve to see higher education brought to the Uinta Basin, in 1967 State Representative Dr. Daniel Dennis introduced a bill to establish a Utah State University Extension Center in Roosevelt. Dennis' bill, with strong lobbying support from Alva Snow and others, won legislative approval and funding.  

Utah State University Uintah Basin Extension Center began with a director and a secretary in a one-room office. Classes were held in both Roosevelt and Vernal in high school and junior high classrooms in the evenings with professors flown in from Logan. During the next few years the first two resident instructors were added, Bruce Goodrich in Math and Nels Carlson in Theater Arts, and the number of classes and degrees offered were expanded. An innovative program pioneered at the USU Center in Roosevelt was concurrent enrollment.

classroom building in Roosevelt

The USU Center provided educational opportunities for many adults that could not go to college otherwise. Local school districts had a hard time filling teaching positions with qualified people. Now Basin residents, armed with a Utah State University degree, applied for local teaching positions and stabilized the turnover rates. Business and government positions, long denied much of the area's population due to lack of educational opportunities were available.

The growth and identity of the USU Extension Center reached a significant mile-stone in 1989 with the dedication of a new 25,000 square-feet administrative and classroom building in Roosevelt. Funding for this project was obtained from a state Community Impact Board grant backed by Roosevelt City, Duchesne and Uintah Counties. As the building was completed area residents had more visible evidence of the University's presence in the community.

Two years later a 40,000 square-foot building was purchased in Vernal, which more than doubled the classroom and office space. And in 1993, with a generous donation by First Security Bank, an additional building was purchased for an administration building in Roosevelt.

In 2006 and 2008, generous gifts by Bob Williams of $5.2 million in land, followed by $15 million by Mark and Debbie Bingham brought about two new buildings in Vernal. The Williams Building is shared with Uintah Basin Technology College, and the Bingham Research Center houses National Research Lab, in addition to classrooms, science laboratories, and offices.

1994, the Board of Regents approved a name change to Utah State University Uintah Basin Branch Campus, followed by another name change in 2006 to Utah State University Uintah Basin Regional Campus. Presently the Uintah Basin Campus serves some 1,100 students a semester. There are about 630 courses taught each semester, and 25 resident faculty are employed. USU-UBRC offers 2 Associates Degrees, 23 Bachelor's Degrees, 12 Masters Degrees, and 1 doctorate degree.




















The economic impact of Utah State University Uintah Basin Campus is significant. Presently over 50% of Basin high-school graduates go on for some type of post high school schooling. The average cost per year of schooling away from home: tuition, fees, books, room and board, is $9,000 to 12,000. Students who stay home and go to school can do so for $5,000 to 6,000. This generates a savings of $2.75 million to Basin residents. Many Basin residents, just as their forebears, could not afford college were it not for the Uintah Basin Campus*.

*This figure was determined by the mean averages of the cost per school year minus the mean average of the cost for schooling at USU-UBRC multiplied by the 550 non-concurrent enrollment students.