by Becky GINOS
KAYSVILLE—From a small area vocational school with less than 1,000 students in 1978 to an expanded campus teaching between 6,000 to 7,000 people, Davis Technology College has become a staple in Davis County and is celebrating 40 years here.
“There have been 30 million hours of instruction since 1978,” said Davis Tech President Michael J. Bouwhuis. “Countless students come who are broken, torn, dejected or have a dream and they know they need to take these steps to make them more qualified in whatever goal they pursue.”
The 1978 Utah State Legislature created what was then the Davis Area Vocational Center to serve both Davis and Morgan County residents. Land east of Davis High School was donated by the Davis County School District and the state purchased two existing 10,000 sq. ft. buildings that were on the site and an additional 40 acres of adjacent property, according to materials provided.
“When I started here in 1987 there were portables and trailers,” said Terri Stephens, data manager at the school. “It wasn’t that structured. We were teaching the basics so students could get a job. It’s all technical now. Back in those days we had little welding booths. Now we’ve got robots – it just blows your mind.”
As industry changed, so did Davis Tech. “We’re much more responsive to industry than we were 30 years ago,” said Kevin Cummings, director of Institutional Effectiveness who has been at the college for almost 30 years. “The programs now have advisors from industry who tell us what they need. We made a fundamental change to our program model. Before students were just kind of enrolled and stayed until they were finished. Now we’re course-based and the deadlines are really motivating. It’s worked really, really well but we’ve kept all the best things from the old model.”
Program development is one of the most significant changes Bouwhuis said he’s witnessed since he’s been involved too. “We had 11 programs when we started and now there are 34,” he said. “We’re more advanced and sophisticated. We literally had to respond to the industry change. It’s been a major transformation to be responsive to meet the growing need and economy in Davis County and Utah.”
Opening the Simmons Entrepreneurship Center in 2006 was another milestone, said Bouwhuis. “A lot of businesses got their start here,” he said. “It was a new direction for us in economic development. It’s been rewarding to watch that grow.”
A medical wing was added in 1998. “Now we’ll be able to look forward to the 2018/2019 construction of the Allied Health Building,” he said. “That will take us into the future to train support personnel in the health profession.”
Bouwhuis said Davis Tech is as big as Snow College, making it the largest technical school in the state. “We have quality faculty and staff that make up our programs,” he said. “Their commitment and dedication to changing lives has developed a culture of successful student outcomes.”
Stephens credits Bouwhuis for the school’s current success. “We’re a different organization now,” she said. “Mike has motivated us to be on the cutting edge. He hasn’t hampered us to stay inside the box. He’s never afraid to try new things. He gives us permission to be innovative. This (school) is our little jewel. It has had such a big impact on Davis County.”
Bouwhuis summed up 40 years in a few words. “We change lives – one student at a time.”