Utah Tech University’s history goes all the way back to the settlement of St. George in 1857, when leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked 38 families to move to the southwest corner of Utah to establish a town and grow cotton. The encampment mall where these pioneers parked their covered wagons, raised their families, and taught their children school lessons is now the center of Utah Tech’s campus.
When the community was ready for a more formal college in 1909, the LDS Church began construction on the institution, then called St. George Stake Academy. A true community effort, Washington County residents funded $35,000 of the $55,000 project that was built on the corner of Main Street and 100 South. When the academy was ready to open in September 1911, Samuel Brooks was eager to earn an education and waited on the front steps beginning at 4 a.m. the day that registration opened so he could be the first student to enroll. A trailblazer in his own right, Samuel Brooks is who Utah Tech’s mascot, Brooks the Bison, got his name from.
During the Great Depression when the LDS Church withdrew its support of the college, the community acted as trailblazers again, covering the operational costs for two years until the state was prepared to assume ownership. The institution survived this period of transition thanks to the generous help of the community and their passion for education.
In 1950, when the institution desperately needed student housing, the residents of Washington County stepped in again, forming the Dixie Education Association and purchasing property where student housing would be built. College employees even donated their time and efforts to help with the construction. This dedication paid off when this show of support convinced the state to continue funding the college after it had been ordered to close it in 1953.
Around the same time when it became clear that the college would continue to grow and need more space, the community raised money to purchase the six city blocks where pioneers first settled St. George in 1861. By the fall of 1963, the institution officially moved to its new home.
In the late 1990s, Washington County residents again appealed to the Utah Legislature, this time to petition for the addition of baccalaureate degrees to the college’s associate programs. Thanks to excellent leadership and tireless community effort, the college was granted approval to award bachelor’s degrees in business administration and computer science in March.
The college continued to add baccalaureate programs and just two years after celebrating its centennial gained university status in 2013. Made possible with the dedication and support of the community, university status means expanded opportunities for the storied institution. The University continues to grow and adapted a polytechnic approach to education starting in 2016 and master’s degrees in 2018.
Today, Utah Tech University’s more than 200 academic programs offer transformative experiences across all disciplines – humanities, arts, education, health sciences, business, and STEM. UT students learn by doing, take advantage of real-world learning through industry partnerships, and graduate career ready.