During homecoming on April 16, 2022, Pacific Union College dedicated the Walter C. Utt Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Named after one of PUC’s distinguished professors and historians, the center is essentially a historical archive holding a collection of documents related to PUC and Adventist history. The purpose of the center is to conserve historical documents and materials so visiting scholars, PUC faculty, and PUC students can study original documents and interpret the history of Adventism and the college for themselves.
The Utt Center has a brand new building where the bulk of the archives from the library “penthouse” has moved to the center. “We hope to be ‘open for business’ sometime in Spring 2023,” shares Karl Wilcox, director of The Utt Center. “The Utt Center is an extension from the existing library, but it has its own character and feel and, in my opinion, the study rooms and research areas are very conducive to research and learning.”
Other uses for the center will feature exhibits of historical interest and function as a venue for scholarly conferences, PUC board meetings, lectures, and classes. “The fact that the Utt Center exists tells me that PUC is fully committed to honoring and remaining true to the founding biblical ideals of our founders,” said Wilcox. “However, the existence of the archive is also an opportunity for us all to reflect upon our shared history in order to learn from past mistakes, confess our failings, and grow closer to God’s ideal for His people.”
As director of the Utt Center, Wilcox focuses on helping students develop an intelligent biblical worldview. “I desire that each student here will learn and believe the truth about God and His plan to rescue us from this fallen world,” said Wilcox. He prays that the Holy Spirit will live in him and give him the content God wants him to share with others at PUC and in the larger scholarly community. Wilcox added, "The Utt Center would not exist without the supporters and donors who believed preserving church history is vital for ensuring that Adventism remains true to its divinely inspired roots."
There are a lot of archives, but Wilcox has two current favorites. One is a set of diaries he obtained last quarter from a 90-year-old Adventist from Yountville Church who donated his uncle’s diaries from 1924-1977. The diaries belonged to Paul Minton of Lodi, California, who graduated from PUC in 1928. The most interesting diary was from 1934 on a backpacking trip that Minton took with his wife Ruth from Mt. Lassen to Mt. Whitney. Ruth Minton also graduated from PUC in 1928, and according to Wilcox, the couple was probably the first thru-hikers to span the entire 700-mile distance between these mountains. “The trip diary is a fascinating account of what it was like to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (before it existed as a route) with primitive gear by our standards (and without mosquito repellant!),” said Wilcox.
The second is an original poster designed and commissioned by Dr. Merritt Kellogg from the 1800s that depicts allegorical imagery of the entire “Story of Redemption” from Adam and Eve’s fall to the Second Coming. The poster is still in beautiful condition, and he plans to showcase it this year.