Cleal Z. Bradford and J. Lynn Lee are being honored as the founding fathers of the San Juan Campus of the College of Eastern Utah.
Prior to 1976, local education, human service agencies, and government entities had made sporadic efforts to bring higher education opportunities to San Juan County with only minimal success. There was a strong desire for a more permanent and stable higher education presence.
In 1975, Cleal Bradford was the Executive Director of the Utah Navajo Development Council (UNDC) and Lynn Lee was working with UNDC in a college relations assignment. In private discussion between Cleal and Lynn, a decision was made to do whatever it might take to bring higher education to the area.
After several brainstorming sessions, Cleal presented a concept to a group of local leaders, along with Dr. Dean McDonald, President of the College of Eastern Utah.
This group embraced the plan and designated Lynn the responsibility to lead out in organizing the San Juan Center for Higher Education.
This was the birth of what became CEU-San Juan. This decision started in motion a long continuous series of events that has resulted in a viable campus in southeastern Utah.
The obstacles were overwhelming; there was no financing, no buildings, no faculty, and no students. It was a dream that many people called a fantasy.
Shortly after the program gained momentum, Dr. Dee Gibbons, a prominent local physician and his wife Beppy moved away from Blanding.
They donated the equity in their home and property to the San Juan Foundation. This facility became the center of college classes for many years and to this day (2010) serves as the CEU-SJC administration building.
Cleal’s and Lynn’s vision for the college was far from complete. Cleal began checking maps and plats of the land surrounding the Gibbons property.
He discovered there were 120 acres of BLM land adjacent on the west of the Gibbon’s property. San Juan Foundation applied to the BLM for a “recreation and public purpose acquisition” on the 120 acres that have provided the foundation for most of the ensuing developments.
Later, two homes adjacent to the initial campus were purchased, the Cook home and the Hunt home.
The next major project that took place was the construction of the Science Building. This facility was built on a minimal budget with much of the work done by faculty, staff, and students.
The building, designed by a faculty member, was built out of adobe brick. Workers, students, faculty, and staff handmade the adobe before class, during the lunch hour, and after classes.
When the bricks were dry, these same laborers and volunteers then laid the adobe bricks into walls that eventually housed the campus library and science center.
This self-help labor of love represented the local commitment to make higher education in San Juan County a reality. Cleal raised the funding for this building thru a variety of sources including the State Community Impact Board Fund.
During this time of early growth of the campus, Lynn pulled together the faculty, administration and staff for the college operation.
Lynn Lee served for 18 years as the administrator for the campus in addition to his many other duties.
After the science building was completed, Cleal, through the Foundation, worked with the Farm Home Administration to acquire funds to build the cafeteria, bookstore, and two dormitories. All of this construction was funded without any financial assistance from the State Legislature.
When Lynn first approached the State for support, he was told that since the majority of students were Navajo he should go to the Navajo Nation.
During the early years of the campus, Lynn wrote proposals that were funded for many federal education programs including “Talent Search,” “Upward Bound,” “Title III,” and “Star Schools.”
The Title III and Stars Schools programs were instrumental in expanding and improving the distance learning system that is in place today serving students throughout the Four Corners Region.
Cleal and Lynn were also able to secure funding for several programs that provided significant benefit to the campus.
One of these was a Title III Endowment Challenge Grant of $4 million. This grant required a $2 million match. The $2 million was raised from various entities and individuals through extensive efforts from Cleal and Lynn, the San Juan County Commission and San Juan Foundation Board members.
This $6 million was the start to the student scholarship program which has grown to approximately $15 million. Half of the earnings go into four student scholarship funds with the other half accruing to the corpus.
Hundreds, if not thousands of students have benefited from this perpetual scholarship endowment. Many students would not have attended college without the scholarship assistance.
Since the San Juan Campus became part of the State System of Higher Education, Cleal and Lynn have been instrumental in securing money for the Technology Building, Health Science Library Building and other campus facilities.
It is estimated that these two men brought in over $100 million to support the growth and operation of the Campus and its programs. Thirty-two years after the birth of CEU-SJC, Cleal and Lynn are involved in significant ways to promote the continued growth and development of the campus.
Cleal Bradford and Lynn Lee are the founding fathers of CEU-San Juan. Official state that it is appropriate that these two men be recognized by naming the Technology Building in their honor.