UVU approved for new $54M classroom building

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Utah Valley University is expecting to break ground this summer for a new classroom building, which was approved by the Utah State Legislature before the close of the general session on March 14.

“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,” said Matthew Holland, UVU president. “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 project will help alleviate the crowding issues with its 240,000 square feet of classrooms and offices.

UVU’s longterm strategies project enrollment of over 43,000 students by 2020. According to the university’s plans, more than 750,000 additional square feet will be needed to accommodate growth.

“UVU’s growth trajectory is a reflection of the institution’s increased popularity,” President Holland said in October 2012. “But our mandate is not growth for growth’s sake.” After peaking at over 33,000 students in 2011, enrollment has dipped slightly in the last year due to stricter enrollment requirements and deadlines.

While the university is currently planning for additional enrollment declines due to the missionary age change, the classroom building fits with the UVU’s core vision to provide top-tier education that is accessible to more Utahns than ever. UVU is one of the largest open-admission universities in the nation. By adding more than 10,000 students in four years, UVU became the largest public institution in Utah in the fall of 2011.

The building designs include 34 classrooms between 40 and 330 seats each, with one auditorium fitting 1000 seats. Currently, UVU’s largest classroom auditorium has 400 seats and is found in the science building just completed in 2012. For reference, the new auditorium will be larger than the JSB auditorium, which holds 866 seats. The need for such a large classroom may seem to contradict UVU’s reputation for small class sizes.

“Last semester I was in a class with only eight students,” Adam Pilkington said. Pilkington is a business management student nearing graduation in December, and he suspected that his experience with smaller classes comes from being in upper-level classes. Pilkington has attended UVU for the past five years and has seen other areas where growth has outpaced capacity.

“Parking is obviously an issue, and the bookstore is way too small,” Pilkington said. “Anywhere where there are student help desks or student services is just way overcrowded.”

According to the minutes from the President’s Executive Leadership Council last November, UVU administrators expressed some concern that lawmakers might give funding priorities to other institutions that had not received building grants recently.

However, Utah State Legislature considered few “shovel-ready” projects during this session and, therefore, approved the $54 million grant to begin construction. Weber State also received a $3.5 million grant to begin the planning and design of a new science building. The bill is currently awaiting the governor’s signature and UVU plans construction to begin this summer.

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