Bridgerland Technical College (BTECH) was founded on Sept. 17, 1971, when the Utah State Board of Vocational Education unanimously voted to create a new vocational district that would serve Box Elder, Cache, and Rich counties. This move combined the Cache Vocational Center and some of the vocational programs offered by Utah State University. Though originally pitched both as the Tri-County Area Vocational Center and the Bear River Area Vocational Center, the center opened in October of that year under the name Bridgerland Area Vocational Center. Since then, BTECH has seen three more name changes under legislative direction: Bridgerland Applied Technology Center, Bridgerland Applied Technology College, and finally Bridgerland Technical College.
The legislature changed vocational centers in 1990 to improve public perception and thus we became Bridgerland Applied Technology Center.
As a result of Governor Mike Leavitt’s dedication for improved educational pathways, the state Legislature created the Utah College of Applied Technology governed by the Board of Regents. Bridgerland became an Applied Technology College campus in 2001. Accreditation then transitioned to the nationally recognized non-profit organization The Council on Occupational Education (COE) in 2006.
In 2017 the Utah College of Applied Technology was reorganized into the Utah System of Technical Colleges resulting, once again, in a legislatively mandated name change to Bridgerland Technical College.
Effective July 1, 2020, under SB111, the Utah State Legislature put all public degree-granting colleges and universities and technical colleges under a single governing body, the newly created Utah Board of Higher Education. With new guidance by the Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. David Woolstenhulme, articulations and pathways are continuing to be built providing better coordination among institutions in the state.
Originally housed in Sky View High School’s new vocational area, BTECH’s administration was moved from building to building over the next thirteen years, including a few at Utah State University. Its programs were originally scattered throughout Cache Valley in unused buildings, like the old Tueller Dance Studio, that could accommodate them. BTECH was finally able to move to its own location in 1984 when it came to what is now its main campus, the old Wurlitzer piano factory. Since then, BTECH has expanded via remodels and building acquisition, adding a branch campus in Brigham City. To serve rural high school students, the College expanded to Rich County in 1996 and finally expanded to the former Bourns building in 2005, which became known as Logan Campus - West. BTECH’s first purpose-built building was funded as the #1 priority in the State in the 2020 Legislative Session and later became another casualty of COVID-19. Funds were restored in 2021 for the new Health Sciences building.
Since its inception in 1971, BTECH has had four directors/presidents. It opened under Director Stanley S. Richardson, the former State Supervisor of Vocational Agriculture in Idaho, who served until 1973. He laid vital groundwork for the future of the college, building cooperative relationships and course offerings began to flourish. He was followed by Director Samuel H. Gordon, who was the former Director of Vocational Education in Box Elder County. Director Gordon worked on promoting technical education in Box Elder until his retirement in 1975, when Dr. Richard L. Maughan came to BTECH. Dr. Maughan began his leadership and served as Director, Superintendent, and President for 40 years, until his retirement in 2015. Dr. Maughan shaped vocational and technical education in the Bear River Region and across the entire state of Utah. He lobbied endlessly for technical education to receive funding and support from local businesses and the legislature.
Dr. Maughan was succeeded by K. Chad Campbell. President Campbell had previously served as BTECH’s chief financial officer from 1985 until being selected as President in 2015. Under his leadership, the college continues to expand with the new health sciences building and a growing number of programs to accommodate the changing economy.
It Takes a Team
While the College has been under four different governance structures during its first 50 years, the one thing that has remained constant is its mission and role. Technical colleges, including BTECH, meet the needs of Utah’s employers for technically skilled workers and promote local and statewide economic development by providing market-driven technical education to secondary and post-secondary students. With outstanding leadership and diligent efforts of BTECH faculty and staff, the value of technical education is now recognized nationally. Working together, relationships are fostered with local school districts, businesses, governing entities, and other higher education institutions.
After 50 years, this is just the beginning as technical education gains momentum and students find more success than ever before.