"Now, as we seek full funding for construction, it is up to us to explain why this new building is so important to the college and our regional vitality." Joe Peterson
A $267,000 donation from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation has pushed USU Eastern past the million dollar mark in private funding toward its Building Vitality Campaign.
This means that when the Utah Legislature convenes in January, the college can present complete architectural plans for a new Central Instructional Building. This could move the project even higher up on the state building priority list, said USU Eastern Chancellor Joe Peterson.
"We wanted to pay for architectural planning in advance of the upcoming legislative session," he said. "We have now accomplished that goal."
The Sorenson Legacy Foundation is known for support of educational initiatives related to arts and the disabled or disadvantaged.
"We're extremely grateful that the Foundation perceived our project's congruity with the Foundation's values, and the importance of our project for this region," Peterson said. "Their gift makes the Foundation one of the college's chief partners in extending access to cultural events and educational opportunity."
It was estimated that it would cost USU Eastern $1.4 million for architectural planning. Last year the state legislature gave the college a kick-start when it allocated $500,000 in planning money for the project. With help from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, USU Eastern was able to raise the additional private funding necessary to not only meet, but exceed its goal, Peterson said.
"The success of our fundraising effort demonstrates in a concrete way that people of good will understand and value USU Eastern in general, and this building project in particular," he said. "Now, as we seek full funding for construction, it is up to us to explain why this new building is so important to the college and our regional vitality."
Part of this has to do with curb appeal.
The Building Vitality Campaign is based on the connection between buildings, enrollments and economic vitality in Southeast Utah. The logic of the campaign is that to boost economic and cultural vitality in Southeast Utah, USU Eastern needs to prepare more people to make economic and cultural contributions, Peterson said.
To prepare more people, the college needs to grow its enrollment numbers. Facilities play an important role in attracting new students because without upgraded or new campus structures, it's difficult to effectively compete against other campuses in the state, he said.
"This new building will allow the college to improve facilities, attract and enroll more students and have a greater impact on the regional vitality," Peterson said.