Anti-war students sounding off against the Vietnam conflict in the 1960s likely would have marched in picket lines around a building housing both military offices and college classrooms.
How times have changed in some 30 years.Sandal-clad students carrying backpacks will soon keep step with National Guardsmen in Army-issued fatigues along hallways of a new $7.7-million building at Utah Valley State College.
A groundbreaking ceremony Friday kicked off construction of the 71,000-square-foot facility, which will be called the Orem Military Readiness Center.
"We're trying to scratch the word `armory' from our vocabulary," said Lt. Col Kent Demars. The new name describes more accurately the role the Utah National Guard plays in the country's defense, he said.
The college agreed to lease 6.2 acres to the National Guard in exchange for day-to-day use of 11 classrooms and adjacent parking space. It is located on the west side of I-15 across from the Orem campus.
"This is a partnership in which we can join forces and save taxpayer dollars," said UVSC President Kerry D. Romesburg.
The center, which will be used by some 250 soldiers for language and drill training, will relieve the overcrowded Provo armory and the college campus. UVSC paid nothing for the building but will share some janitorial costs.
Space has become so tight at the growing 15,000-student school that a bathroom was converted into a classroom earlier this year. Some vocational-training buildings also are used for liberal-arts education classes.
Leavitt, who arrived by helicopter, also signed a resolution urging Congress to financially support the National Guard and a bill giving tuition assistance to Utah Guardsmen. It is hoped federal money will come to the state as a result.
According to a recent budget study, if the recruitment incentive fills all federally funded posts in the Guard, about $628,000 in new state tax revenue would be taken from those paychecks.
"There's been a lot said about not using the word `armory' and I'd like to suggest I'm not enthusiastic. I've grown up to know that `armory' means great things," Leavitt said. "I recognize it is time to make the change. But it doesn't change the value this state places on the National Guard."
"This is a win-win bill for Utah," said Brigadier General Phil Peay, deputy adjutant general for the Army Guard. "Not only does this bill improve the ability of our National Guard forces to operate, it brings federal money back to the state and directly enhances the quality of life for those Guard members who participate in this program and receive a college education."