University of Utah Sesquicentennial, 1850 - 2000
The New U of U, 1892-1914
The end of the 19th century found the newly re-christened University of Utah on the verge of great changes, both in size and location. In 1894, the U.S. Congress granted the University sixty acres of land on the east bench of Salt Lake City, land that had been part of Fort Douglas since it was founded in 1862. With the vanishing of the frontier, military posts such as Fort Douglas were considered surplus to the Army's needs. James E. Talmage replaced acting president
Joseph T. Kingsbury as President of the University in 1894, and served for three years. In 1897, Dr. Kingsbury was once again appointed as President, this time in his own right. Kingsbury would guide the school for the next two decades. During this period the University faced yet another threat to its existence; at the Constitutional Convention in 1895, legislators introduced a motion that would have closed the University of Utah and consolidated it with the State Agricultural College in Logan. The motion was defeated, and an article was placed in the state's constitution that established two separate schools.
In 1896, Utah became a state. Two years later, the Board of Regents voted to move the school to the new east bench location; the next year, the state legislature appropriated $200,000 for buildings on the new campus. Utah architect Richard K. A. Kletting, who designed the original Saltair Resort and the Utah State Capitol Building, was commissioned to create a plan for the campus. Mr. Lyman's engineering students were put to work surveying the grounds and preparing a map of the new location. Students were also glad to help landscape the campus by planting trees on Arbor Day; this became a campus tradition that continued for a number of years. Four buildings were planned, for Physical Science, Liberal Arts, a Normal school, and a Museum. The appropriation only covered the first three, and they were completed by the time registration opened on October 1, 1900. On December 19, 1901, the Physical Science building was partially destroyed in a fire, but quick action by student, professors, and a regiment of soldiers from Fort Douglas saved books, furnishings, football uniforms, and much else from the flames. The building was re-built and re-opened by the start of the 1902-1903 school year. In 1904, the campus continued to grow when a further 32 acres were obtained from Fort Douglas. Meanwhile, enrollment at the University had been growing as well. In 1900 there were 183 students; within a decade this had increased to over 1,500.
But not all the news from the University of Utah cast the school in a positive light. In 1914, a controversy over academic freedom began that would shake the University to its foundations. Four faculty members were demoted or not rehired because they allowed a graduation speaker to criticize the influence of the L.D.S. church on the University.
The students and faculty mobilized, and protests and meetings were held. The University of Utah was the subject of the first investigation by the newly founded American Association of University Professors, which found the administration guilty of firing or demoting faculty members for trivial causes. By the time the controversy was finally resolved in 1915, twenty-one faculty members--one-third of the faculty--had resigned in protest, including Byron Cummings, the first Dean of Arts and Sciences. The controversy also led to the resignation of President Joseph T. Kingsbury in January 1916. From bright beginnings at the end of the 19th century, the University faced an uncertain future in the first years of the 20th century.