Staff members at Weber State gathered on March 13 to discuss how Utah’s most recent legislative session will affect the university.
The most heavily discussed topic was the announcement to replace the current social science building. Lawmakers approved a grant for $14 million going toward the construction of Lindquist Hall.
In the second year of construction, Weber will receive additional funding for the project. There is intent language in the bills that the state legislature passed for a supplementary $16 million.
The building’s completion is expected fall semester 2018, which, according to administration at Weber, is a semester later than they initially planned. Big-D, the contracting company hired to execute the project, said there isn’t enough time to finish the whole project in under 16 months.
Chris Millard of Weber State’s Government Relations Team said the building is the most important takeaway from this session for the campus community. “The renovation of that building is huge because at some point every university student will go through there,” Millard said.
Millard believes the building is unsafe in its present condition, and more important than the revitalized aesthetic will be the improvements to the structural stability of the building.
The operating budget was expanded as well, and Weber State was given a two-percent increase for labor market adjustments. There have not yet been any decisions made on where that funding will go.
“The university has complete latitude on how to allocate the two percent,” said Nolan Karras, a chair on the Board of Trustees. He also explained that the Board of Trustee’s and the National Advisory Council will both have a hand in the decision-making.
There were a number of bills that were briefly touched on during the review that will affect individual colleges at Weber. Will Pridemore, a staff member from the university’s athletics department, brought up one example of a bill that affects athletics specifically.
“They adopted a revised version of an old bill, which requires agents to register with the state,” Pridemore said.
The passing of SB-117 means that the university will be granted an increase in performance funding and engineering initiative. The amount they will receive is still to be decided.
Another notable change from the state legislative session involves the passing of bill SB-328. Entitled “Higher Education Governance Revisions,” the bill will afford more power to the Board of Trustees over the Board of Regents. Following this change, it will likely become easier for new programs to be approved at Weber State.