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$9 million donated for WSU arts facility

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Students and faculty at Weber State University are a lot closer to having a new visual arts learning facility.

Nine million dollars closer, to be exact, thanks to two donations announced by the school's board of trustees Tuesday."This is a very big boost for us," said WSU President Paul Thompson. "This building will dramatically improve the facilities for our students and faculty, who have worked for years in conditions that were less than ideal."

The facility will be called the Ethel Wattis Kimball Visual Arts Center, following a $5 million gift from William R. Kimball and Barbara W. Browning, in honor of their late mother, Ethel Wat-tis Kimball.

The Stewart Education Foundation also committed an additional $4 million. In recognition, the exhibition area within the new building will be named the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery.

The donations go a long way toward the $15 million needed to construct the facility, said Thompson.

"We've been focusing on funds for a number of years," he said. "We had $2.5 before, so we're still a little short. But this has made it much more feasible. A much closer reality."

Thompson estimates the building will be about 55,000 net square feet, and that groundbreaking could occur in the next 12 to 15 months.

The facility will be built southwest of the Val A. Browning Center for Performing Arts, the trustees reported, and will house studio space for students, offices for faculty, and a state-of-the-art gallery.