U gets $23M bond for new business building

By Trent Lowe, Staff Writer

A last-minute rejection couldn’t hold the U’s business school back this year.

The David Eccles School of Business received a $23 million bond from the Utah Legislature on March 12, hours before the legislative session ended for the year, allowing construction of a new business building to begin immediately.

“It’s great news in a tough year,” said Paul Brinkman, associate vice president of budget and planning at the U. “We’re happy that it’s done8212;it’s been a few years in the making.”

Demolition of the Madsen Building began April 15 and will take approximately two months to complete, said Raelynn Potts, director of business affairs within the business school.

There was a push this year within the Legislature to get more funding for higher education institutions, with four receiving close to $61 million.

“I’m the head of the higher education committee and so I’ve advocated very strongly that higher education is the developmental force of the state,” said Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, co-chairman of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. “If we educate our workforce, we can sell it.”

Many people in the business school are excited about the new facilities and the new opportunities that were not available before because the buildings had been constructed more than 40 years ago.

“It certainly will improve our ability to deliver a higher-quality education to our students,” said Harris Sondak, a business professor. “It also makes it easier to attract faculty because people want to have a good environment to do their job.”

Jack Brittain, dean of the business school, attributed the success in part to the private donors who have already funded most of the project. He said this year is different because the donors are helping the state instead of the other way around, which was a setback last year.

“As an overall package, it was quite compelling,” Valentine said. “The committee was impressed with the fundraising efforts of the U. It has such a strong community support.”

The news was welcomed with open arms just days after the Legislature passed a 9 percent cutback to the university’s funding, which causes the U to receive close to $24 million less this year than last year. The damage would have been worse8212;a cut of more than $46 million8212;were it not for the recently signed federal stimulus package. The original cutback of more than 17 percent would have meant a severe hit to many of the U’s programs.

“There is a strong movement to build buildings at the higher education institutions as an investment in the community,” Valentine said.

The entire business building project will take about three and a half years to complete.

[email protected]

Photo Courtesy of University of Utah

At the end of the legislative session The David Eccles School of Business received a $23 million bond to build a new business building.