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USU Eastern on the march

Marc Bingham (left) and Tony Basso receive handshakes of appreciation from Utah State University President Stan Albrecht Thursday. Each man donated $250,000 to the university to fund the design of a new instruction building on the Price Campus.
As a final gesture in the ceremony, graduates move their tassels to the opposite side of their caps.
Major announcements highlight Commencement Week

Sun Advocate associate editor

For an institution that's close to putting 75 candles on its birthday cake, USU Eastern is looking mighty spry.

You might even say it's looking like a million bucks, because that's how much money it has to plan the new central instructional building it wants desperately.

Before an audience that filled the ballroom of the Tuscan Ristorante Thursday, Chancellor Joe Peterson and USU President Stan Albrecht told partners and friends from across the region where the money comes from: $500,000 from the state, which was augmented by $250,000 each from two donors - Tony Basso and Marc Bingham.

The $1 million total should be enough to have a shovel-ready project

ready for legislative approval. The new building would be sited near

the busy corner of 300 East and 400 North in Price.

Preliminary plans call for the building to replace the dilapidated music building and the Student Activity Center, the oldest building on campus that is showing signs of advanced age.

That is part of the news that the college and university leaders brought.

Just south of the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center, the old Arts Building is being transformed into the Center for Workforce Development. Peterson explained that the renovated building will house a new program based on a partnership among the college, the Utah Department of Workforce Services and other workforce and economic development agencies.

Peterson explained that the collaboration will blend the strength of the partner agencies and the college. "It's our hope that education in the trades becomes more prominent to our students, and that the college is more prominent to local employers as the best source for skilled workers," the chancellor said. Having the facility located on one of the busiest streets in Price means that students interested in job-related training won't have to search for an office hidden somewhere on campus, he added.

The university is also taking the initiative in economic development focused on the community's traditional mining base. It is a process of producing clean metallurgical coke that is expected to add jobs to the region. The plant is already under construction the former WITEC facility, which was once a mining complex for the now-closed Willow Creek Coal Mine.

The USU owns the intellectual rights to the coking process, which was developed by developed by Combustion Resources Inc. of Provo. When it is in operation, the plant will produce coke briquettes after removing pollutants like sulfur from the feedstock.

The chancellor said he was also enthusiastic about the Four-in-Four enrollment goal at the college. It means that USU Eastern has committed itself to having 4,000 students after four enrollment cycles.

To achieve that, the college has revamped its recruitment and retention efforts and has embarked on a more intensive outreach effort in its communities. One key element in raising the college's profile is the new central instruction building.

Guests at Thursday's luncheon got first word of the Building Vitality Campaign aimed at raising public support and funds for the building. Attacting students is a competitive process and better facilities are crucial to that effort, a letter to the guests explained.

As Peterson has said many times, including at the luncheon, USU Eastern students who stay in the region bring their skills to the workforce, and those who leave become ambassadors for Southeastern Utah.

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