Administration hoping for new building

Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 7:04pm

In the event of an earthquake of a magnitude 7.0 or higher, the roofs of Geary Theater and the Dorothy and Dean Brown Music Center on the USU Eastern campus would collapse. To counter this threat, the USU Eastern administration is petitioning the state legislature for funding to remodel/replace these buildings and add new space.

The Geary Theater and the Music building were built in the early 1960s. Since then, these structures have not been kept up to seismic code, nor has the old SAC, part of which is one of the original campus buildings, completed in 1937. In presenting the building plan to the state legislature, Chancellor Joe Peterson and USU President Stan Albrecht proposed that all three buildings be retrofitted to meet seismic requirements to better support the new building.

In an e-mail, Peterson said, “The new building would be a combination of the remodeled and the new space (that is, we’re not talking about two-new buildings, but one-new building that includes the remodeled space).”

The proposed building would likely absorb the music, art, theater, and communications programs. “By consolidating those [programs] into one building,” said Brad King, vice chancellor for administration and advancement, “we have room to expand some of our technical programs over there [in the McDonald Career Center] that are bursting at the seams and currently there’s no room.”

Albrecht and Peterson presented the 80,400-square-foot building, of which 20,400 feet would be from the already present buildings and the remainder would be new space, as an arts and education building to the state legislators, although arts are not a high priority for the state. In presenting the proposal, Peterson requested nearly $24 million, an investment that would not require tuition at USU Eastern to be increased.

Since the merger, USU has been able to request a second building annually, whereas all other state funded colleges only get a single request. As such, USU Eastern is competing against a USU extension in Brigham City.

USU recently acquired 40 acres at the site of the Intermountain Indian School adjacent US 89/91. The 60,000-square-foot Brigham City extension building, which would replace a distance education center in a strip mall, would be a $15 million project, of which the university has secured pledges of $7.5 million.

President Albrecht has offered assurance that if Brigham City is selected this year, next year the university will request only the addition to the Price campus.

According to King, financial donations are welcome, and would likely expedite the process of getting the proposal passed through legislature, and, if large enough, possibly get a person’s name on the front of the latest addition to USU Eastern.

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