Standing the Test of Time


  Utah Valley University has come a long way. What started as a vocational school for the production of World War II weapons is now a full-fledged university representing almost 24,000 students from all 50 states and 78 countries.

   Here’s a closer look at its humble beginnings.

By Kimberly Christenson, Photos courtesy of Utah Valley University, UVU Library & Sutherland Archives Digital Collections


1941: Utah Valley University’s roots began during World War II, when skilled craftsmen were needed to produce arms and ammunition for the United States’ Allied Forces. For this purpose, Hyrum E. Johnson brought together vocational classes that were being offered throughout Utah to one central location in Provo and gave UVU its original name: Central Utah Vocation School.

1945: When the war ended, the State Legislature made the school a permanent institution, naming Wilson W. Sorensen director. The school then moved to University Avenue in Provo.

1963: The school’s name was changed to Utah Trade Technical Institute.

1967: The school was renamed Utah Technical College at Provo and began awarding associate degrees.

1982: The demand for space caused the school to be moved to its current location in southwest Orem. J. Marvin Higbee was named the third president of the institution.

1988:The school became Utah Valley Community College.

1989: Kerry D. Romesburg was appointed president. He expanded the college’s educational offerings and improved the face of campus by adding and expanding buildings. Through his efforts, funding was obtained for a special events center (later to be named McKay Events Center) and the Wasatch Mountain Campus.

2003: William A. Sederburg was named president. President Sederburg immediately started working with local and state officials to obtain university status. To become a university, the school was required to have an expansive library and start offering master’s degrees, which happened after only a year and a half.

2008: Utah Valley State College became Utah Valley University.

2009: Matthew Holland became Utah Valley University’s new president.


Then: UVU’s Orem campus began on 85 acres in 1977.



Now: Now, UVU’s Orem campus stands on about 308 acres.



Then: Here, the UTTI basketball team of 1966 gathers for a team photo.



Now: The UVU basketball team is now an NCAA D-1 team. The team finished its 2008-09 season with a 17-11 record, capping off its 26th winning season in a row.



Now: On July 1, 2008, UVU opened its new Digital Learning Center. The $48 million project is a 190,000-square-foot, five-level library located northeast of the Liberal Arts building. The new library is also the “greenest” state-owned building in Utah.


Then: This 1966 shot shows the interior of the library at the Utah Trade Technical Institute in Provo.



Then: In 1967, 4,692 students attended The Utah Technical College — the year this photo of nine students was taken.



Now: Now, almost 30,000 students attend UVU.



Then: Retiring president Wilson W. Sorensen (left) stands with the new president J. Marvin Higbee (right) at graduation in 1982.



Now:Matthew Holland was named Utah Valley University’s new president on March 6, 2009.






Kim calls Utah Valley home, but she spent her high school years in Australia, where she learned to drive on the other side of the road and tolerate Vegemite. Since earning an English degree at BYU, Kimberly has worked for Covenant Communications, Utah Valley Magazine, Daily Herald and Eat My Words. When she isn't writing, Kim loves traveling, teaching Pilates, and spending time with her husband and three children. Read more from Kim at

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