Agreeing the money should go to the schools that can produce the most graduates the quickest, the state Board of Regents has divided $4 million in high-technology education funding among five state colleges and universities.

The board, which met via conference call Monday morning, approved a recommendation of a governor-appointed advisory committee to give the bulk of the funding to the state's three biggest universities, with the University of Utah receiving the most and with Utah Valley State College and Southern Utah University sharing a small portion of the funds.

John Sutherland, chairman of the advisory committee, said although each of the state's nine campuses could make legitimate arguments for receiving some of the money, it must go where the largest and most immediate demand is.

"The recommendation is based on language of the engineering initiative, and that was to double the number of engineering and computer science graduates in five years and triple them in eight," Sutherland said. "Because the funding was less than half of what was originally requested, we've had to focus the funding where it will do the most good."

Weber State University President Paul Thompson said the board should be wary of leaving out Salt Lake Community College, Snow, Dixie and College of Eastern Utah because that could create a political problem with legislators from those regions of the state as the initiative is reviewed by lawmakers.

"If they receive no dollars, we might not have the support next year," Thompson said.

Board chairman Charles Johnson said the reason for having to make the decision is "there are too few dollars and too much demand. Focusing the money has to be the guiding principle right now."

Regent Brent Hogan said there is more threat to the future funding of the initiative if the regents don't follow the recommendation of the advisory committee, which was established under the original legislation.

"That was the intent of the sponsor of that legislation, and if we do that we increase our chances of future funding," Hogan said.

The $1 million in ongoing funds will go to the University of Utah — $466,667; Utah State University — $316,667; and Weber State University — $266,667.

The allocation of $2.5 million in one-time funds: U. — $933,333; USU— $633-333; WSU — $433, 333; Utah Valley State College — $333,333; Southern Utah University— $166,667.

An additional $500,000 appropriated under the bill will be used for administrative costs by the state Board of Regents. Included in the board's decision is a requirement for all five schools to submit a spending plan, a detailed account of how the money was spent and how it was used to increase the number of students.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan and sponsor of the bill that established the engineering initiative, said last week that the decision should not be a political one. "The easy way out would be to spread it across the board to all the campuses," Hillyard said. "But the money should be spent on how best to help the economic development of Utah, not how to help the schools."

U. President Bernard Machen said Monday that the other schools should keep in mind that the funding will address the backlog of students in high technology programs, but it certainly won't solve it. "That's not going to go away, even with this funding."