Campus Life

Women of USU: Then and Now, Women and Fundraising

By Joyce Kinkead |

UAC's Smart Gymnasium, circa1920.

It’s Giving Tuesday, a global movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world on December 3. Created in 2012, it’s a day that encourages people to do good. Utah State University has a proud legacy of faculty members who have enhanced the institution for the good of its students and the community. On this Giving Tuesday, let’s take a look back to a feisty English professor and an inspired leader of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, who changed USU in significant ways.

Then, 1909: Charlotte Kyle, Instructor of English

According to renowned English Professor Moyle Q. Rice, who delivered the 1976 Faculty Honors Lecture, he was inspired as a student at the UAC by a “wondrous group of people, including Charlotte Kyle,” to become a “permanent candle-bearer for the values of the humanities.” He also called out the “great social centers of his time as a student, the old Smart Gym and the hall of the Main Building, which my generation thought of in full caps.” 

Did Professor Rice know that his mentor, Miss Charlotte Kyle, “instructoress in English,” was responsible for the building of Smart Gymnasium? In the early days of the college, all activity was held in Old Main, which included physical education. Miss Kyle, who had earned both bachelor and master’s degrees at Park College, was appalled to see “scantily clad males” in the building, and she wrote a letter to President Widstoe protesting. The President agreed, and promptly appointed Miss Kyle to raise money for a proper gymnasium! She wasted no time in obtaining $10,000 from Trustee Thomas Smart, and with additional funds from the state, the Smart Gymnasium was built in 1912 [and demolished in 1971]. Miss Kyle was highly regarded by her students. She was invited to be an “honorary member” of the exclusive Emphyrean Club, a group of ten coeds focused on “contemporary issues.” 

Now, 2019: Dean Beth Foley

Over the last decade, Professor Beth Foley has served as the Dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. In that time, she has advanced programs and people, focusing on innovation and productivity. A major accomplishment of her leadership is the Sorenson Legacy Foundation Center for Clinical Excellence, opened in 2018, a unique, advanced facility that combined multiple services that were previously dispersed around the campus. The new center provides outstanding service across the lifespan to the community and research opportunities to students and faculty in human service disciplines. With focused outreach to low-income and underserved minority populations, thousands of individuals, couples and families across Utah and the region will benefit.

Dean Foley said in an article about the opening that it was one of the “happiest days of my life.” Substantial funding for the building came from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, and other generous donors.

In his 1976 speech, Professor Rice also summed up the meaning of an institution, “A university is not so much an institution as it is a unique arrangement of mutually stimulating people who care a great deal about what they are doing. It's not just a community of scholars, as it is assumed, ideally, to be. It's a situation that provides maximum heuristic values and permits everyone to be used at his best. Nowhere else is there a comparable opportunity for self-discovery of one's latent talents and creative energies. Whatever the cost of this discovery, it is the best guarantee of an enlightened and productive citizenry.”

On this Giving Tuesday, we salute the faculty who have invested in Utah State University, and we encourage others to consider how they might honor family and friends—particularly women--with named scholarships, programs, centers, and buildings.

Rice, M. Q., "An Otherwise Report" (1976). Faculty Honor Lectures. Paper 68.
Simmonds, A J. “Pictures Past: A Centennial Celebration of Utah State University.” Utah State University Faculty Monographs, Utah State University Press, 1998, Accessed 27 January 2018.

Sorenson Legacy Foundation Center for Clinical Excellence, in 2018.


Joyce Kinkead
Professor, Co-Chair
Department of English



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