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U. gets $5.7 million gift

New engineering building will bear donors' names

The University of Utah College of Engineering announced a $5.7 million gift Friday — the kick-start the college needed to match state money for a new building.

The gift came from John E. and Marva M. Warnock in the form of 200,000 shares of Adobe stock. The donation becomes the cornerstone of a $13 million campaign at the U. that will support $15 million in bonding by the state to cover the costs of the $28 million project. Site selection, planning and architecture work will begin now, with completion anticipated in 2006. The building is likely to rise near the current Merrill Engineering Building on the north side of the U. campus, but a definite site has not been chosen, said U. president Bernie Machen.

He said the U. has only $2.5 million to raise to flesh out its share. He said the expansion of the engineering program marks "a new era of innovation for the college."

The new space for classrooms and labs will provide the U. the facilities necessary to meet Gov. Mike Leavitt's engineering initiative objectives. The initiative, begun in 2000, is aiming at doubling the number of engineering and computer science graduates coming out of Utah schools. Engineers are needed to provide a foundation for Utah's recovery to a robust economy, the governor said.

The Warnocks' support is an example of an effective partnership between the university, the state and private business, he said.

Leavitt applauded the generous donation as well and said that 411 days into his 1,000-day plan for beefing up engineering in the state, things are on course. Even with difficult budget years, the state has managed to put money into the initiative to keep it viable until there is more money to spend, he said, adding an expressive "Go, Utes." The U. has increased enrollment in engineering majors by 26 percent, and other Utah colleges with engineering programs also are making gains.

The gift will have "an enormous impact for decades to come," said engineering dean Jerry Stringfellow. He said John Warnock represents "the new engineer," who goes beyond the usual expectations to foster unexpected innovations. Such innovative use of engineering principles is what the U. hopes to instill in its graduates, he said.

John Warnock is co-chairman of the board of Adobe Systems Inc., which he co-founded with Charles Geschke in 1982. He has been a pioneer in development of world-renowned graphics, publishing, Web and electronic document technologies that have revolutionized publishing and visual communications. He holds six patents and is a widely recognized software innovator.

Marva Warnock is a designer and partner in Marsh Design in Palo Alto, Calif. The couple earlier endowed chairs in the U. colleges of engineering and science. In all, they have made donations of approximately $9 million. The new engineering building will bear their names.


E-mail: tvanleer@desnews.com