Building high on priority list

Although ground hasn’t broken for the new Davis campus building, Weber State University already has another multi-million dollar building high on Utah’s Board of Regents recommendation list.

The list — which ranks a new science building for WSU second — will be considered by both the state’s building board and the legislative committee assigned to capital projects as they put together their own priority lists for the Utah State Legislature. Together, these three lists will have considerable sway as the legislature decides which buildings to fund.

“We’re very pleasantly surprised to be number two on the list,” said Vice Provost Bruce Davis. “That’s a ranking that we were never able to achieve with the Davis campus building.”

Even without the high ranking, WSU received $30 million in building funds during the last legislative session to help cover the more than $39.9 cost of the new 120,146 square-foot building at the Davis Campus. It’s unusual then, Davis explained, that WSU would already have another building ranked so highly.

“There’s always a kind of an unstated factor in the prioritization process which is, you need to wait your turn,” Davis said. “We just recieved 30 million of building money from the legislature this year. So, for us to expect another $60 million in the very next year is probably, well it would be, remarkable.”

If the legislature does choose to fund the science building this spring, the 200,000 square-foot building would be built in place of buildings three and four and would replace the current 120,000 square-foot science building. It would be about 15,000 square feet larger than the Union Building, and after the science building and the buildings it’s replacing are torn down, it would add about 30,000 square feet of building space to the campus. Taken together with the new Davis campus building, WSU would have an additional 150,000 square feet of building space.

The building’s extra space will be a significant upgrade to what is currently available because it is difficult to retrofit for modern-day science equipment, Bowen said. He also said it’s a tall, top-heavy, concrete building that would not fair well in a significant seismic event.

“The college of science is very important at Weber State University,” Davis said. “It’s been around forever. It’s going to be around forever. We have very fine academic programs, terrific faculty and students in that program, and they deserve better space than they have.”

After a tour of the building last August, the Board of Regents must have agreed, considering their decision to rank the building second.

“I think it sets the stage, even if we don’t get funded this year, it’s hard to back away from a ranking that high in the future,” said David Matty, dean of the College of Science. “Nothing is certain in life. It may be 20 more year,s but I really, really, don’t think so. I’m very optimistic that it’s going to happen within the next four to six years.”

Matty said he’s happy to have the building ranked so high and excited about what a new building could do for the College of Science.

“I can’t imagine how many more students would want to come and work in a brand new building that has modern faculty’s,” Matty said. “I think it would be a boom just to overall recruiting, not just for the sciences and mathmatics, but also just the university at large.”

The building would also put the College of Science closer to the center of campus and would complete the area surrounding the Bell Tower Plaza with new and renovated buildings. But  it’s the interior of the building that WSU senior and lab aid Jordan Treasure is most excited for.

“For future students, it’s going to be a huge help if they redo the labs. Some of the labs are really outdated ” Treasure said. “I just wish it would happen now.”