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The Shepherd Union: a Change for the Better

What started out as an army barrack called the College Inn, is now the meeting place of students; the Shepherd Union Building

“The purpose of a union building is to bring the college community together,” said Bill Fruth, the Shepherd Union director. “It’s where you can learn things outside of the classroom that will help you grow as a person.”

In the beginning, the union building was built in two phases. On Sept. 1, 1961, the east side of the building was completed. This housed the bookstore, the testing center, and became the ‘living room’ of the campus.

As the college grew and trends changed, the college was looking to make an addition to the building, and in 1968, the west side of the union building was completed.

The two buildings were connected by a hallway bridge that was located on the second floor. The place that we call the atrium today, use to be exposed to all of the elements of the outside.

Now that the union building was larger and had more facilities, they could accommodate larger activities not only for the college, but for the Ogden community as well. The building now had ballrooms where dances, lectures, and dinners could all be held.

“The main force of the building becoming what it is today is all because of Farrell Shepherd,” said Fruth. “He was the original director of the building, and was the heart, spirit, and champion of the building.”

Upon Farrell Shepherd’s retirement in 1982, the Associated Students of Weber State College renamed the building from the Union Building to the J. Farrell Shepherd Union.

Over the years more and more changes continued to be made to the building, and in 1991, Weber State College became Weber State University.

“When I first walked in for my interview, there was orange carpet and duct tape,” said Monika Rodie, the associate director of the Shepherd Union.  “Change was needed.”

It wasn’t until 2001, 33 years later, that the university really looked into renovating the Union Building.

“The world had changed and the building needed to change with it,” said Fruth. “We didn’t anticipate that we were going to need testing centers and a Starbucks, but the times have changed.”

In May 2006, phase 1 of the renovation started, which included the entire west side of the building.

During this time, it caused for many tenets of the west side of the building to be moved to the east side, or even outside the building itself.

In July 2007, phase 2 of the Shepherd Union Building began and again tenets of the east side had to move to the west side.

It wasn’t until 2007, when President Ann Millner and Farrell Shepherd celebrated the grand re-opening of the newly renovated Shepherd Union Building

Ty Sanders, a professor from the communication department and adviser to the KWCR, has been at Weber State for 21 years and was impacted by the renovation.

“The KWCR has been moved all around campus during the renovation, but the new home that we are in is fantastic,” said Sanders. “We were a part of the renovation and could design the studio the way we wanted it to be.”

This year the Shepherd Union Building is celebrating its 50th birthday. It has been 50 years of lectures, club meetings, parties, and social events that have made the union building what it is today.

“It’s much more than a building, it’s a union,” said Fruth. “It’s a unifying place where student, faculty, alumni, and community members can all come together.”

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