February 1945: Junior College Act passes
The Junior College Act, after an early defeat in the 1945 Wyoming legislative session, was revised in the same session and made into law. Its passage allowed Wyoming school districts, with voter approval, to establish two-year adult education programs and the authority to levy up to two mills for operational support. In March 1946, Powell residents provided petition signatures to convince School District No. 1 to place the junior college issue before the electorate on June 17, 1946. This vote was preempted in April when the University of Wyoming announced its plans to establish a two-year, fully-accredited branch of the university the following fall in Powell.
September 1946: University of Wyoming Northwest Center opens
The UW Northwest Center, the first satellite branch of the University of Wyoming, opened Sept. 10, 1946, in the Powell High School building. Classes began Sept. 16. Clarence Moore was the center director and Paul Fawley, Powell's superintendent of schools, was named assistant director. The university funded the teaching staff, library and administrative costs while the school district provided the building and paid for janitorial and secretarial services and necessary equipment and supplies. Classes were taught by seven teachers, including the center director, in second-floor classrooms at the high school. Accounts of student enrollment vary from 58-90, with the Powell Tribune reporting a final fall enrollment count of 75.
April 1949: University of Wyoming rescinds financial support
Enrollment at the UW Northwest Center had risen considerably when the university announced that it was financially unable to continue operating the Powell branch. In a new agreement, the school district ensured the future of the college by taking responsibility for all expenses associated with the center. Students attending the Northwest Center continued to be enrolled in the University of Wyoming and received UW credits.
June 1949: Julius Christensen named center director
When the university withdrew its funding, Clarence Moore's position was vacated. Julius E. Christensen, who had taught English and drama two years at the UW Northwest Center, was named center director, a position he held for 17 years.
September 1949: UW Northwest Center gets its own building
For the first time since its inception, the center could claim its own building when it moved into what was called the "grade school bungalow" (known as the white house in later years). Originally a barracks from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, the building had been remodeled to temporarily handle an overflow of Powell elementary students awaiting the completion of a new school. In September 1949, Northwest Center students walked into classrooms with "blackboards at six-year-old eye level and toilets correspondingly sized." The center still conducted lab classes in high school laboratories, and in 1953, the Presbyterian Church basement was also utilized for classrooms.
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