The University of Utah (also referred to as the U, the U of U, or Utah) is a public coeducational space-grant research university in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. A Board of Regents was organized by Brigham Young to establish a university in the Salt Lake Valley. The university was established on February 28, 1850, as the University of Deseret by the General Assembly of the provisional State of Deseret, and Orson Spencer was appointed as the first chancellor of the university. Early classes were held in private homes or wherever space could be found. The university closed in 1853 due to lack of funds and lack of feeder schools.
Following years of intermittent classes in the Salt Lake City Council House, the university began to be re-established in 1867 under the direction of David O. Calder, who was followed by John R. Park in 1869. The university moved out of the council house into the Union Academy building in 1876 and into Union Square in 1884. In 1892, the school's name was changed to the University of Utah, and John R. Park began arranging to obtain land belonging to the U.S. Army's Fort Douglas on the east bench of the Salt Lake Valley, where the university moved permanently in 1900. Additional Fort Douglas land has been granted to the university over the years, and the fort was officially closed on October 26, 1991. Upon his death in 1900, Dr. John R. Park bequeathed his entire fortune to the university.
The University of Utah campus in the early 1920s
The university grew rapidly in the early 20th century but was involved in an academic freedom controversy in 1915 when Joseph T. Kingsbury recommended that five faculty members be dismissed after a graduation speaker made a speech critical of Utah governor William Spry. One third of the faculty resigned in protest of these dismissals. Some felt that the dismissals were a result of the LDS Church's influence on the university, while others felt that they reflected a more general pattern of repressing religious and political expression that might be deemed offensive. The controversy was largely resolved when Kingsbury resigned in 1916, but university operations were again interrupted by World War I, and later The Great Depression and World War II. Student enrollment dropped to a low of 3,418 during the last year of World War II, but A. Ray Olpin made substantial additions to campus following the war, and enrollment reached 12,000 by the time he retired in 1964. Growth continued throughout the following decades as the university developed into a center for computer, medical, and other research.