Past Foundation Chair - Bill Anderson

Foundation Board Chair 1981-1990

In 1981, Wilson Sorensen, president of Utah Technical College at Provo, convened a group of prominent community members and proposed the idea of establishing a foundation to support the college. As Bill Anderson tells it, Sorensen met him in the hallway and said he’d like to introduce Bill to the group as president and chair. Bill told him he thought the board should elect its own president, but Sorensen insisted they could elect their own president the following year. And that’s exactly what they did—and they continued to elect Anderson for a decade. 

During that period of time the Foundation Board devoted most of its time to educating people in the valley about the college. “It took a long time to get people to understand what a jewel we had,” explains Anderson. In 1982 Sorensen retired after 37 years as president, and J. Marvin Higbee was inaugurated. During Higbee’s term the Foundation developed a mission statement for Utah Valley Community College: “It is the mission of UVCC to prepare people to go to work.” Higbee expanded the school’s educational offerings and saw it renamed Utah Valley Community College in 1987 before leaving. 

In 1988 Kerry Romesburg was inaugurated. “Kerry Romesburg has a magnificent magnetic personality. You’re drawn to him immediately. We became good friends, and when he left, it was a very emotional time for both of us,” said Anderson. The two became a formidable team. 

The Foundation began raising more significant amounts of money, but 80 percent went into endowment, and there wasn’t much available for scholarships. In 1990 Romesburg approached the board and asked if there was a way to come up with more money for the badly needed scholarships. Anderson tossed out the idea of a presidential scholarship ball. “I said why don’t we make a social event in the valley that would be better than anything else that’s being done. Make it a black tie event,” said Anderson. The event was a great success and continues to be the event of the valley today, funding the Presidential Scholarship, which now provides support for 50 undergraduate and three graduate students each year. 

Anderson and his wife, Norma, chaired the Presidential Scholarship Ball Committee for the first two years, before turning it over to Wilford and Natalie Clyde. “My wife and I made a firm commitment after the success of those first two balls that this would be something we’d be involved with so long as we lived and that we would try to impress upon our own children that it would be a way in which our family would continue to give forever,” said Anderson. “Our family has kind of fallen in love with the idea. It’s one event of three that we hold as a family every year.” Utah Valley University, he said, has become a very important part of the Anderson Family. Two of the Anderson’s grandchildren have studied at UVU, and a daughter-in-law, Julie Clark, is an adjunct professor of children’s literature here.

The Scholarship Ball created a bond between the people of Utah Valley and the University, said Anderson, and it has served as a way for the University to demonstrate its success to the community. 

“The Scholarship Ball became a kind of embryo for all fundraising, because things just opened up after that,” said Anderson. People who wouldn’t have become involved with the school if not for the ball have turned into donors. As an example Anderson mentions Bill and Margaret Pope. Bill was a professor of chemical engineering at Brigham Young University, but after becoming involved with UVU via the ball, he and his wife gave a $1 million gift to UVU. During the same time period, the Gunther family donated $1 million, and Gunther Technology Building was named for them. 

During Anderson’s years, the Foundation Board also established the Wolverine Club, and it attempted to start a football team, but that idea was rejected by the Board of Regents. Under Anderson’s leadership, the board pulled together demographic data and foresaw the need for the school to expand. “I said to the board members, this institution will one day have a 40,000 student body, and they thought I was crazy,” said Anderson. No one questions that figure today. 

Anderson has high praise for the Foundation Ambassador program, which grants a scholarship in the name of a past Foundation chair to each student ambassador. He has enjoyed meeting the student ambassadors at events. “The young man who was the recipient of my scholarship last year, Cameron Ketch, spent the summer working in a dental office in Alaska and plans to go to dental school. He’s just an outstanding man,” said Anderson. 

UVU has become a school of choice, rather than an alternative, said Anderson. “Our graduates are proving to be excellent employees. We hear nothing but raves about the quality of our students,” he said.