U library stands to get money it asks of state

The Board of Regents has a wish list for higher education in Utah, and the U’s Marriott Library renovation is king of the mountain.

If history holds true, the U will also get the whole $48.5 million it wants to earthquake-proof and spiff up the library-or at least some of it.

The number one priority on the regent’s Capital Facility list has received funds from the Utah State Legislature every year since as early as 2000.

“I think the Legislature has been very fair in respecting the Regents’ priorities,” said Kevin Walthers, an assistant commissioner for the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.

Last year, the U’s project ranked second behind a Weber State University remodeling, and didn’t collect a penny despite its lobbying efforts. With the exception of one year since 2000, the Legislature has consistently snubbed number two, but has funded projects from as low as the bottom of the nine-item list.

To rank building requests from the nine state universities, the Board of Regents developed the “Qualification and Prioritization,” or Q and P formula, more than 10 years ago.

Each institution submits its top priority to the Regents who then evaluate the requests. Regents base the rankings on criteria including use of existing space, life and safety, leveraging state resources and use of donations to help defray state costs.

According to Dave Buhler, an associate commissioner for the Board of Regents, the potential damage that an earthquake could cause to students and materials in the Marriott Library gave it a high Q and P score. Large amounts of donations also helped increase the U’s score.

“I think that’s great,” said student Kirsten Alaqidy. “That sounds like something necessary.”

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