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Population  of Washington County

9,600

Student Head Count

167

Student FTE  
Dixie Junior College Pres. Ellvert H. Himes

 

The State Board of Education appointed a committee to look into a possible new location for the College.  They reported that a new site was in­deed available and that the Dixie Education Association and citizens of the area were interested in helping with the purchase of this new site and would assist in obtaining title to it.

As part of the effort to begin raising funds for the relocation of the College campus, the property just west of the College Administration Building on Main Street was sold for $12,000 to the Washington County School District.

Two recommendations were made to the State Legislature: to accept the new site from the citizens of Washington County, at no cost to the State, and that they should seek an additional appropriation of $300,000 which would be added to the $200,000 already available, to construct a Heating Plant, Shops and Gymnasium on the new campus.

 The Dixie Education Association, under President Himes' direction, had gained title to 32 acres of land on the east side of town, for about $31,000. Governor J. Bracken Lee signed the site bill for the new campus in February 1953.  Through the leadership of Senator Orval Hafen, who was president of the Utah State Senate, the State accepted the land as a gift in return for permission to relocate the campus.

 Professor McConkie recalled the years of Dr. Himes presidency when his portrait was added to the College collection in April 1982.

 "President Himes began his administration at a time when the fortunes of Dixie Junior College were low.  This was not because of failures of previous administrators, but this low ebb was just part of that time from 1951 to 1954. The G.I. benefits for many students were being terminated and enrollments were down.  There was a growing feeling that two college programs within fifty miles of each other was more than could be justified for Southwestern Utah.

 Through his efforts, money was appropriated for the planning and building of an Industrial Arts and Vocational Education building on the new campus.  Because of the serious decline of enrollment in this area with termination of the G.I. benefits and the concern with the isolation of this program from the rest of the college programs, this money was used to build the College Gymnasium on the corner of the new campus." This was the first building to be built on the new campus.

The state legislature passed a bill that same year which proposed that the State transfer Weber College, Dixie Junior College, and Snow College back to the LDS Church.  However, enough opposition was expressed, especially in Weber County, to have the question decided, in November 1954, by the voters of the three counties involved: Weber, Sanpete, and Washington.

 The LDS Church First Presidency made a public statement that the Church would honor existing contracts and carry out programs at the three schools just as if there had been no change in the control of the Colleges. Undoubtedly this crisis was the second greatest one in the history of the school, exceeded only by the transfer to the State in 1933.

 As the weeks passed by, much of the local Washington County opinion seemed to be in favor of transferring the school back to the Church because of dissatisfaction with the state's inadequate financial backing from 1933 to 1954.  This seemed justified because during this whole 21 year period, the State erected no new buildings and it was a con­tinuous struggle to meet operating expenses.  Also, the creation of a four-year school in Cedar City led many people in the State, legislators included, to believe that those students who wanted education beyond high school could go to Cedar City.

 At the annual Dixie Junior College Alumni Banquet, Bruce C. Hafen, a graduate of Dixie and presently Dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, in reflecting back about this critical period in the history of the College, made this statement:

        "If I may be permitted this much of a personal reference, I must confess to being very surprised and very subdued at what I have found in reading through my father's correspondence and private journal on this subject. Orval Hafen was a member of the St. George Stake Presidency and an officer in the local chamber of commerce in 1933 the year the Church relinquished control of the College.  He was later the State Senator from this area from 1953 until 1964.  Until reading through those materials, I had no idea how perilously close Dixie Junior College came on several occasions to fading out of existence, especially in 1933 and in 1953. The strong convictions of this community about the value of the school made all the difference in those critical periods. Because the community understood the value of higher education and was prepared to accept any necessary personal sacrifice, they would not let their precious school go. As an act of pure will, they would not let it go."

In the November 1954 referendum, the voters in Weber County voted overwhelmingly for continued State support of the colleges by the State.  However, the vote in Sanpete and Washington Counties was just the reverse with more than 6 to 1 margin locally in favor of going back to the Church.

This whole process seemed to signal a new life for the College. The local people, lead by the College Administration, began demanding greater support from the State.

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