LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) — Utah State University is celebrating a huge milestone, as today, March 8, marks the school’s 135th birthday.
USU was founded in Logan on March 8, 1888, as the Agricultural College of Utah (UAC). The roots of the university, however, go back to the Civil War.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, funding the establishment of a new college in each state and territory nationwide. The act was designed to promote higher education and learning to people of all backgrounds, including rural life. It would be another 26 years before the UAC actually took advantage of the act.
Its first student was enrolled two years later in 1890, a 14-year-old student named Miss Vendla Berntson.
By 1892, the “Farmers” of UAC even had a strong presence in college football, defeating the University of Utah 12-0 during the school’s first-ever football game on what is now the quad. This was, however, the only game to be played until 1896.
The campus was temporarily a military institution in 1918, where enlisted students were housed in numerous barracks around the quad, as the Spanish Flu epidemic also called for a campus-wide quarantine. It was also during this year when “The Scotsman,” the school’s infamous spirit song, was composed by a student.
With the arrival of World War II, the campus saw far fewer enrollments all the way through to 1944 when there were only 861 students.
It wasn’t until 1957 that the school would officially become known as Utah State University.
Around this time, USU also had an impressive roster of students, even hailed for sending more student experiments into space than any other university in the world.
A decade later in 1967, the first statewide campuses were established, with new centers in Roosevelt and Moab.
USU purchased a live white bull to act as a mascot during sporting events in 1976. When the bull’s presence at stadiums proved to be too much, despite being fitted with large rubber boots, the bull was retired.
The university finally received its mascot in 1987 when the current Big Blue mascot was first introduced.
Tragedy struck that same year when a fire broke out, destroying the south wing of the historic Old Main. A 14-year-long renovation project was undertaken, which was completed in October 1997.
Now, over two decades later, USU has its main campus in Logan, 8 statewide campuses, 23 education centers, and 40 extension locations across the state. It’s grown in its headcount too, with approximately 27,943 students enrolled during the Fall 2022 semester.
Utah State University has done much growing over its 135 years, teaching students and engaging with communities around the state. And with nearly 155,000 alumni, the university is set to grow even more in the years to come.