On Thursday March 14, the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee of the Utah State Legislature announced its funding plans for purposed UVU building expansion.
“Heading into the session, we knew that we would not get everything we requested,” said President Matthew Holland in his announcement to UVU faculty and administration. “There was even a moment of uncertainty about whether any of our requests would get funded.”
With the $10 million cut in 2008 and the possibility of another $10 million cut in funding looming, UVU waited to see how many, if any, funding proposals would be granted. Bearing in mind UVU’s history of being underfunded and denied support to pursue goals, Holland had to consider the possibility that the competition for the money was too great.
“We … faced a set of stiffly competitive projects on the capital facilities front,” Holland said. “These issues and the many twists and turns of the session notwithstanding, I am happy to report that UVU fared quite well during the session.”
After two years of waiting, President Holland announced on March 20 that UVU has received $54 million to move forward with its plans to build another classroom building.
“I’m glad they’re getting this extra building,” said Megan Tindsdell, a senior. “The school is so crowded, it’ll be nice to have some extra breathing room, even if it doesn’t affect my time here.”
The new 250,000 square-foot classroom building will have more than 200 offices, 3,000 classrooms, a 1,000-seat auditorium and several large study areas. Many faculty members and students have expressed relief in the new building and the space it will provide. Others aren’t quite sure it’s as necessary as everyone says it is.
“Everyone keeps saying that we need the space, and maybe we do,” said Kayla Hart, a sophomore. “I’ve just never noticed that much of a problem. I’ve only ever had one class where there were more than 20 or 25 people, and that was my biology class last year. But now we have the science building for that, and we’re getting that student life building.”
UVU currently has the fewest square feet per student of any upper education institution in Utah. Utah Board of Regents conducted a study that found UVU has 56 assignable square feet for every full-time student, a Utah System of Higher Education low. The study also indicated that UVU would need a minimum of 757,000 additional assigned square feet by 2020 to accommodate growth, at which time the student body is projected to near 43,000 students.
“The Utah Legislature’s approval of funding for the new classroom building is a crucial win for UVU students, and we’re grateful for lawmakers’ support,” Holland said. “This new facility will help ensure that students and faculty members have the physical learning tools and atmosphere that is vital to student success.”
The building will be constructed in the parking lot just north of the Liberal Arts building. Questions of where students will park once groundbreaking, projected for late this summer, has begun. With limited space on or near campus to park, some students are already feeling agitated.
“It just seems like another construction nightmare,” Hart said. “Not to mention the fewer parking spots we’ll have. Next thing you know we’ll be asked to just walk our commute to school. I come from Sandy and I’m already fed up with parking; it’s completely impossible.”
The university recognizes the potential parking issues but looks toward the improved mass transit that is now available through Frontrunner and UTA that improves transportation options for students commuting from Salt Lake Valley. Administration was unable to officially comment on future parking plans at this time.
By Nicole Shepard