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Carbon College was formed on February 20, 1937 by the State of Utah and classes began in October 1938 with approximately 100 students. The newly formed college faced financial difficulties in 1953 when a budget-cutting measure was proposed to dismantle the college and sell the property. The issue went to the ballot during the election of 1954 with 56,000 petition signatures and a subsequent 78% of the vote to reject such a measure.

In 1959, the college was joined with the University of Utah and acted as a branch of the University for 10 years. During the partnership, the campus grew significantly and the college became known as College of Eastern Utah (CEU). During the 1960s, CEU added several new buildings including the Geary Theater, Music Building, Science Center, and Library. In 1969, the Utah System of Higher Education was created ending the relationship between the University of Utah and CEU.

During the 1970s, CEU began to focus on the mission of being a vocational-technical school for the community. Degrees were expanded to include welding, automotive mechanics, machine shop, cosmetology, diesel mechanics, and a registered nursing program. CEU expanded courses to be taught at the San Juan Center. After the start of the 21st century, courses and enrollment began to climb to more than 2,000 students enrolled in more than 400 courses.

In 2010, the College of Eastern Utah merged with Utah State University creating Utah State University Eastern (USU Eastern). Shortly after the merger, Dr. Joe Peterson, a former vice president of instruction at Salt Lake Community College, became the school’s first chancellor, reporting directly to USU president Stan L. Albrecht.