WSU Magazine Spring 2011 : Page 8
A SIMPLE QUESTION … What do you remember most about the Union Building? amy hendricks , university communications Dances? “official” sleeping area? J Wildcat Lair? Fireplace lounge? The Pretzel-Maker? The original cafeteria? LoveSac chairs? Dead Man’s Party? I PIT? Miss Weber State Pageant? G N I T A R B E L E C H Union Build 19 r 2 0 5, 61 96 em be 67 19 6, Ju ly Expansion ground breaking wsu magazine | spring 2011 , 1 13 pt ay Se Groundbreaking Dedication M 8 PHOTOS COURTESY OF WSU ARCHIVES Expansion dedication M ay 2, 19 69
Celebrating a Milestone
<i>The Union Building Turns 50</i>
<b>Amy Hendricks</b>, University Communications
<b>A SIMPLE QUESTION:</b>
What do you remember most about the Union Building?
Dances? Wildcat Lair? Miss Weber State Pageant? The "official" sleeping area? Dead Man's Party? The Pretzel-Maker? Fireplace lounge? LoveSac chairs? The Pit? The original cafeteria?
And who could forget the barbershop with its backward clock that, according to former Union Building (UB) barber <b>Ross Kennedy</b>, was as “big as a steam wheel”? “I always went there to get my hair cut, even after I graduated,” said <b>Dee Phillips ’67</b>.
While the barbershop, and services such as the “official sleeping area,” have been gone for years now, others, like the bowling alley and bookstore, have been mainstays. Some, like <i>The Signpost</i> and KWCR, moved in, then out, then in again.
Through all of the comings and goings of the last half-century, the UB has always been the heart of student Activity. And that was its purpose, right from the start …
<i>"The Union is the living room of the campus community, a laboratory where students spend their out-of-class time constructively, where they learn leadership and social skills, where they learn to get along with each other, by eating, working and playing together."</i>
-Weber College Union Dedicatory Service Program, Sept. 25, 1961
<b>A Little Pre-UB History</b>
<i>“Well way back then we were young and free, we didn’t have a clue what we’d turn out to be. We had a lot of fun in our favorite club, but the best of all was Weber’s old TUB, that’s Temporary Union Building T-U-B, there were guys and gals and an old TV."</i>
<b>–Steven R. Mecham ’58</b>
Originally used by the U.S. government as barracks, the temporary union building, the TUB, dates back to the Weber College campus in downtown Ogden, where it was known as the College Inn, or CI.
When the campus moved to Harrison Boulevard in the mid-1950s, the CI was physically relocated and officially became the TUB.
It was small and fun and had one big flaw ...
<i>“The lack of facilities has caused many a person discomfort and necessary trips to building four in all kinds of weather. Therefore, it is my humble opinion that the proposed loan for the new union building is very necessary and that the decision made was a wise one. Yours, for toilets in the T.U.B., <b>Gary Olsen</b>.”</i>
Letter to the Editor, <i>The Signpost</i>, April 15, 1960
Like its name suggested, the TUB was temporary. According to Richard Sadler’s <i>Weber State College … A Centennial History</i>, students dating back to 1953 had anticipated the need for a larger gathering place and had been setting aside a part of student fees to help finance one.
Seven years later, student fees and a bank loan provided funds for construction. On May 13, 1960, ground was broken for the Union Building.
<b>A Grand Opening</b>
<i>“The Union Building now on the southern skirt of the campus becomes the hub of a whole complex of buildings, the physical center of our community, as we now expect it will be a useful social center indeed.”</i>
<b>Kent Van De Graaf</b>,
editorial editor of <i>The Signpost</i>, written for the grand opening, Sept. 25, 1961
A social center it did, indeed, become, and for students of the 1960s, that meant dances. There were Sweetheart Balls and Snowflake Balls, but for <b>Eddie Allen ’63</b>, the most memorable dance was Western-themed.
“I thought it would be fun to have horses pull students in a surrey to the front door of the Union. But doing what horses naturally do, they made, well, a bit of a mess. I cleaned up as much I could, but the groundskeeper sure had it in for me,” Allen laughed.
While Allen’s horse idea may not have gone over well with the groundskeeper, It’s proof that students were the very heart of UB activity. In fact, student activities and government have been part of the building from the get-go. And that’s exactly how <b>J. Farrell “Shep” Shepherd</b> and <b>Gerald “Monty” Shupe</b> wanted it to be.
Shepherd was the first director of the UB, Shupe the first program director. “Before we moved to the new campus, students had a little say in activities, but not a lot,” Shepherd said. “When they got their own offices, they wanted to do things.”
And, boy, did they. They held hootenannies, club meetings, lectures, twists, debates, variety shows, pageants, homecoming festivities, and much, much more.
“The activities were carried out by student committees. Shep and I, we were just there to guide them and keep them out of jail,” Shupe said, ducking his head to hide a sly smile.
<b>Growing and Changing</b>
<i>“Although the present facility was much larger than the space enjoyed by the students before and many skeptics said that we would never use all the space, we had outgrown the new facility.”</i>
<i>Acorn</i> yearbook, 1966
In 1969, the UB celebrated the opening of its expansion, what is today the western half of the building. It showcased, among other things, a new area for the bookstore and a grand staircase that led to a new ballroom.
Over the next 10 years, the UB continued to be a gathering place. In 1982, Shepherd retired. That year, <b>Lori Memmott Brown ’82</b>, president of the Associated Students of Weber State College, succeeded in her effort to name the building the J. Farrell Shepherd Student Union.
The next 10 years brought more changes. New programs were introduced, like Open Hour. <b>Rick Sline</b>, who was Dean of Campus Life at the time, explained that Open Hour was held once a week at 10:30 a.m.
So commuter students could attend convocations and other events while they were on campus for classes.
Several renovations also took place, some minor, like new carpet, and some major, like the construction of a skywalk that connected the Union to the Student Services Building.
While the Union had changed, it remained, for many, the place to be. “It was for me,” said <b>Nancy Barrow Collinwood ’94</b>. Currently Weber State University’s director of student involvement and leadership, she was a student body officer in the mid- 1990s, a time she described as the “heyday of the Greeks.”
“I remember one night some fraternity members captured ducks from the pond and put them in a rival fraternity’s office. It was quite a mess the next morning, but we all got a good laugh,” Collinwood said. “Whether you were Greek or not, the Union offered something for everyone.
“We would come in late at night and play ‘Sardines,’ a game where a big group would look for one person who was hiding, kind of a reverse hide and seek. It was a lot of fun.
“The Union gave you a sense of belonging. When you walked in, you had a feeling that everybody knew your name.”
<b>A Different Look</b>
<i>“It’s really uptown.”</i>
–Shepherd’s impression of the Union renovation, <i>The Signpost</i>, Sept. 27, 2007
A major renovation in the late 2000s enclosed the open breezeway and brought the two sides of the Union Building together.
Students were very much involved in the renovation and provided part of the funding by voluntarily increasing their fees. <b>Kyle Poll ’04</b> was student body vice president and Union Board chair in 2002-03 and student body president in 2003-04, when the referendum to raise fees passed on the first vote.
“It wasn’t an easy sell,” Poll said.
“Many students would graduate before it was completed. They’d also have to go through construction. I think we were able to sell the idea of leaving a legacy for the university that gave us our education.”
<b>Bill Fruth</b>, current director of the Union, said every piece of the renovation was well planned. “Take, for example, the Center for Diversity & Unity, smack in the heart of the building. Weber State educates about and celebrates diversity, and we wanted to reflect that value in the Union.
“And the Community Involvement Center, that was placed in the mezzanine area where people study and meet, in the hopes they might find something new that interests them, like Habitat for Humanity.”
Fruth fondly remembers standing in the breezeway with architects as they began to envision the future building. “We marked an X where the Atrium would be and said, ‘This has got to be the heart of this place.’”
Undoubtedly it is. On any given day, students gather there, sipping Starbucks or talking to friends before heading to the computer lab or a quiet corner for a ’Cat nap.
And while the building looks altogether different than it did 50 years ago, it is still, as its namesake loved to call it, the “heart” of campus.
<b>The Man Behind the Name</b>
If “the student union is the heart of the campus,” as <b>J. Farrell Shepherd</b> used to say, then Shepherd, himself, is the heart of the building on campus that bears his name.
“Shep,” as he is known to a generation of students, began his career in 1946 as manager of the bookstore at then Weber College, located in downtown Ogden. Like many of his generation, he attended college on the GI bill after serving in World War II. He met and married <b>Lois Berlin</b>, a student in the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital nursing program, while completing his associate’s degree at Weber.
Shepherd recalls how the bookstore and soda fountain, which were housed in a structure dubbed the College Inn, or CI, evolved into more of a student union by popular demand. “At night, the students used to bring their record players in and dance. I used to go back in the evening and open the building, so they could have their dances.”
When Weber College moved from downtown to the “campus on the hill” on Harrison Boulevard, the CI moved too, where it was renamed the temporary union building, or TUB.
In 1957, Shepherd attended a college union convention in Salt Lake City in preparation for the new facility. “It was really an eye opener for me to see what a college union could do on a campus,” he recalled.
He saw the students’ level of responsibility expand as they moved into the new building in 1961, when he was appointed director. “First we had our union committees and things like that,” Shepherd explained. “Then they had to do their budgets. And then they started shifting a little more responsibility to the students, and then a little more. It was the highlight of my career to see this transition and to see what students could really do.”
Looking back on his career, Shep sites a number of Weber State students who went on to work with union buildings around the region, including the late <b>Gary Olsen ’64</b> , <b>Curtis Smout ’67</b> and the late <b>Ray Myers ’71</b>. He fondly recalled, “I couldn’t have accomplished what I did without many capable assistants and a supportive administration.”
Shep loved his work and loved watching students evolve. “It’s a very exciting thing to do. No two days were the same. There’s no better place to get acquainted with people than working in a student union.”
Read the full article at http://www.mydigitalpublication.com/article/Celebrating+a+Milestone/736664/70535/article.html.