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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Regents prioritize Business School renovations

By Ryan Shelton, Asst. News Editor

The Utah State Board of Regents put the David Eccles School of Business renovation and construction plans on top of its $283 million development priority list Friday.

The list, which includes seven other projects statewide, requests $28.5 million in state funding to go toward the school’s $71 million goal.

“We’re very encouraged by being selected first on the Regents’ list,” said Raelynn Potts, director of business affairs for the Business School. “This will be largely beneficial for the U as a whole, because it allows us to build a significant amount of new classrooms.”

The Regents’ request will now be forwarded to the Utah State Building Board and then to the governor, who will decide whether or not to include it in his 2009 budget. From there, the Utah State Legislature will have the final say on the request.

The Legislature denied a similar request for funding during the 2008 general session.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that the Legislature will approve the funding this year,” U President Michael Young said. “We view the private donations we’ve received so far as a strong levy on state dollars.”

To date, the school has raised $24 million from public and private donors.

The two-part construction plan would demolish the Madsen and Garff buildings and build up to four new buildings in their place.

Construction could begin as early as May 2009 if the Legislature approves the Regents’ request. However, Potts said if the Legislature repeats its 2008 snub, the Garff Building replacement could be put on the back burner. The Madsen Building, which is more than 40 years old, would be replaced by a 100,000-square-foot classroom facility.

Higher Education Associate Commissioner for Public Affairs Dave Buhler said it’s hard to predict how the Legislature8212;which is facing financial shortfalls on several fronts8212;will rule the second time around.

“Hopefully they will step up and replace those old dilapidated buildings that were there when I went to the U 35 years ago,” he said.

The Regents also approved the U’s Campus Master Plan, a 25-year blueprint that aims to make the U a more sustainable, transit-friendly campus with more green spaces and commercial developments.

Michael Perez, associative vice president of facilities management, said the Regents’ approval is mostly a symbolic gesture.

“It’s more of an affirmation of the concept of how we anticipate growth over the next quarter century,” Perez said. “Even though it’s been approved by the Regents and we have several projected building sites in mind, things change. The plan is really more of a guideline than anything else.”

The Regents’ total higher education budget request rose 3.4 percent from the previous year’s to $767 million.

“Our highest priority is faculty compensation, so we are asking for an additional $5.2 million in addition to the base compensation increase for all state and public education employees,” Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg said in a statement. “This money will be used by presidents to bring salaries more in line with their peers as a way to keep key faculty teaching on our campuses in Utah.”

[email protected]

Aaron Schwendiman

The renovation and construction of the David Eccles School of Business will be the top priority for the Utah State Board of Regents going into the 2009 Legislative session.

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