A former leader of the Utah State University Tooele Regional campus and a pioneer in distance education passed away last week.
Vince Lafferty, 66, who served as the executive director of the USU Tooele Regional Campus from 1984-99 and from 2008-09, passed away Aug. 12 at his home in Providence, Utah.
Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Lafferty came to Utah in 1974, fresh out of the University of Tulsa’s graduate school in Oklahoma with a master’s degree in history.
Lafferty started his 35-year career with the USU Regional Campus and Distance Education program by teaching history for the USU Uintah Basin Regional Campus based in Roosevelt in 1974.
In 1980, Lafferty was appointed assistant director of the Uintah Campus. Four years later, Lafferty was appointed executive director of the fledgling regional campus in Tooele.
When he first arrived in Tooele, classes for the USU Regional Campus were held at Tooele Army Depot and at Tooele Junior High School.
The Tooele regional campus was part of the USU Extension service. Lafferty had responsibility not just for academic programs, but he also supervised the USU Tooele County agriculture program, including the 4-H program.
Lafferty was involved in moving the campus into a new facility in Tooele City on 1000 West in 1997, where the USU Tooele campus is located today.
As the executive director of the Tooele campus, Lafferty designed the first alternative program for licensure of special education teachers in the state.
Lafferty left Tooele for Logan in 1999 to be the director of distance education for USU.
As the director for distance education at USU in Logan, Lafferty designed programs that used modern technology to bring education to rural areas, including Tooele.
He was named executive director of concurrent education and academic programs in the office of the vice-provost for distance learning and regional campuses in 2005.
USU announced in May 2008 that the Tooele campus had grown and matured to the point that a full-time academic dean would be hired to supervise the Tooele Regional campus.
Tooele Campus Executive Director Kathleen Robinson announced that she would be leaving USU and Lafferty was asked to return to Tooele as interim executive director while a nationwide search for the first dean of the USU Tooele Regional campus was conducted.
“When I came back, Tooele was no longer the sleepy little town I had left,” Lafferty said in an interview with the Transcript-Bulletin in 2009. “People could shop, eat, and see a movie without leaving town.”
Lafferty was given three missions to accomplish during his second, but brief, tenure at USU: First, to oversee the building of a 13,000-square-foot addition to the facility he built back in 1997. Second, to hire quality faculty to teach new programs already planned for the Tooele campus. The third was to look for new ways that USU could meet the needs of the community.
Lafferty opened a 13,000-square-foot addition to the USU Regional campus with space for eight new classrooms, office space for 10 faculty, and a science lab.
During Lafferty’s second term as executive director of the USU Tooele campus, the campus added a bachelor’s degree in accounting, teaching programs in English and history, and a master’s degree in social work. In addition, Lafferty hired six new instructors, bringing the total full-time faculty to eight.
Lafferty also prepared the school to add a bachelor’s degree in management information systems and a master’s in business.
After Gary Straquadine was selected as the first dean of the USU Tooele Regional campus, Lafferty announced his decision to retire instead of returning to his post in Logan.
“It was not my plan to make this assignment my last one,” Lafferty said. “With the budget cutbacks at USU, they have offered an early retirement incentive. Essentially they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
Along with golfing and spending time with family, in retirement Lafferty worked part-time for USU to develop bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for their college of Humanities, Art, and Social Science to be offered at regional campuses, including Tooele.
“Vince spent his career at USU and was very instrumental in the growth and success of USU’s regional campuses, continuing education, concurrent enrollment and distance education,” said Robert Wagner, executive vice provost at USU. “Most recently, he served as executive director of program development on the Logan campus. He will be greatly missed.”
The family welcomes donations to the Vincent J. Lafferty Memorial Scholarship at Utah State University. Please call 435-797-1320 or use the following website: www.usu.edu/advancement/lafferty/.