By Alex Sousa, Managing Editor, @TwoFistedSousa
“This was absolutely essential. This was a building that had to be built for higher education to move forward,” President Holland explained at the ceremony.
The building received state approval at the close of the Utah Legislature’s 2013 general session in February, with a $54 million price tag. It has been one of the state’s principal shovel-ready projects since legislators approved the design in 2012.
“This building is designed to be 245,337 square feet with 34 classrooms and many faculty offices,” said Rob Moore, representative of Big-D Construction Corporation. “It also features a 1,000-seat auditorium that has the unique ability to be split into three separate classrooms with approximately 330 seats per classroom.”
The facility is anticipated to be complete by December 2014 and will deliver much-needed room in the quickly over-crowding university. An additional 244,000 square feet of study and learning spaces on campus means that, per hour, there will be more than 3,000 classroom seats at the university- which in recent years has been overflowing with rapid growth in student body.
“Before a serious focus on getting this building, UVU was forced to find different solutions to our space problem,” said Jono Andrews, UVU student body president. “We created hybrid classes which are partially online and partially in the classroom, and we had to increase the number of online classes as well. These temporary solutions were detracting UVU away from our goal of being engaged. This building will not only foster a place of knowledge- but also a place of engaged learning.”
Facing the rapid growth, after increasing by 7,000 students in the last five years since receiving university status, building additional classroom space has long been at the top of the school’s priorities. According to a recent independent study commissioned by the Utah Board of Regents, UVU only has 56 assignable square feet per full-time student. That means UVU has the fewest square feet per students compared to all of its sister-institutions around the state.
The study also found that, to accommodate the school’s projected growth, a minimum of an additional 757,000 assigned square feet will need to be built by 2020. According to the projections, by 2020 the university will have a headcount in excess of 46,000 students—approximately one and a half times the current student population—making it the largest public institution of higher education in the state.
Receiving funding for the new Classroom Building was a major victory for the institution at the end of the state legislative session earlier this year. While fighting for funding and priority since gaining university status in 2008, the university has often been underfunded. This building, beyond the physical expansion, will help the university develop new depth to engaged learning.