State Universities – Legislation Control of a Constitutional Corporation

The Utah Constitution provides: “The location and establishment by existing laws of the University of Utah, and the Agricultural College are hereby confirmed, and all the rights, immunities, franchises and endowments heretofore granted or conferred, are hereby perpetuated unto said University and Agricultural College respectively.” Relying on this provision, plaintiff university brought an action against the State Board of Examiners and other agencies of the state to obtain a declaratory judgment that this clause put complete control of the university in its board of regents, thereby preventing the state legislature from delegating any powers of control to other state agencies or officials. Plaintiff also sought to have defendants enjoined from ever exercising such powers. The trial court found for the plaintiff, ruling that the university was a constitutional corporation free from control by the defendants. On appeal, held, reversed and remanded. This clause of the constitution when interpreted in the light of prior territorial legislation does not give the plaintiff the status of a constitutional corporation, free from legislative control. University of Utah v. Board of Examiners, 4 Utah (2d) 408, 295 P. (2d) 348 (1956).