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Bennion Center Timeline

1986    Center is proposed by University of Utah President Chase Peterson. Anonymous donors provide initial funding for center creation.

1987    Irene Fisher hired as the Center’s first director. While not officially opened, the Center, its advisory board, and a handful of students clean and repair the Sugarhouse Adult Living Center, sparing residents from eviction. In December of that year, approximately 50 students participated in delivering holiday food baskets to elderly Salt Lake residents.

1988    Bennion Center is officially opened. By the end of the year 500 students had contributed more than five thousand hours of service. The first Project Youth is held, bringing under-served Salt Lake school children to the University of Utah to envision themselves as college students.

1989    Service numbers quadrupled to more than 100,000 hours of service and 5,000 volunteers. Lowell Bennion is recognized by the Caring Institute as one of the “Most Caring People in America.” Service learning course designations created. These courses would later be known as CEL, or Community Engaged Learning.

1990    First community engaged learning courses are offered at the University of Utah by the Psychology and Pharmacology schools. Bennion Center students develop an AIDS awareness education project.

1991    52 student leaders coordinate projects from Moab to Tooele that involve 36 different community agencies. Students also perform their first international service excursion, helping to build a medical facility in Ajoya, Mexico.

1992    Service Learning Scholars (today known as Bennion Scholars) program is created to reward students who enrolled for 15 hours of community engaged learning courses and completed 400 hours of volunteer work, along with a capstone project.

1996    Lowell Bennion dies at age 87. Utah Campus Compact established to promote community service at Utah colleges and universities.

1997    The Bennion Center celebrates its 10th anniversary. Bend-in-the-River is created as an environmental, community and learning space. The Bennion Center sponsors its first Alternative Break spring service learning experience.

1998    Lindquist scholarship established.

2001    Sister program University Neighborhood Partners is created to bring university services to residents of Salt Lake City’s west side. Helping Hands scholarship established for Bennion Center student leaders.

2002    Bennion Center marks its 15th anniversary and begins its partnership with AmeriCorps. This association lays the foundation for America Reads, a tutoring program for Title 1 schools in Salt Lake City. Marshall Welch named director.

2004    The first Legacy of Lowell day of service is held.

2005     The Bennion Centers opens the Service House in Officer’s Circle at Fort Douglas.

2007    Freshmen Service Corps is created to give students new to the U a unique opportunity to serve and make friends. The Corps is later re-named First Year Service Corps to be more inclusive.

2008    Project Youth celebrates its 10th anniversary bringing underserved youth to campus. Linda Dunn named director.

2009    First service learning trip to Costa Rica

2010    Carnegie Designation awarded to the Bennion Center for excellence in community engagement.

2012    Bennion Center celebrates its 25th anniversary. The Service Corner is created to allow students opportunities for drop-in service.

2014    First service learning trip to Cuba. Dean McGovern named director. Bennion Center’s Alternative Breaks program named program of the year by Break Away, national alternative breaks active citizenship program.  

2015    America Reads program through AmeriCorps changed to Utah Reads.

2017    Bennion Center marks its 30th anniversary. Since its founding more than 200,000 students have donated more than three million hours of community service.

Last Updated: 8/26/19