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U. cuts fund-raising goal

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The University of Utah is still seeking $45 million from the state to protect the Marriott Library against earthquake damage — despite receiving a $3 million federal grant Tuesday for the project.

Instead of reducing the amount of state funding needed, university officials said the Federal Emergency Management Agency grant means they won't need to raise as much money from private sources.

"We feel we need some support in getting to the private funding total of $18 million," the library's director, Sarah Michalak, said. "We hope that by establishing a private-public partnership, that will be very reassuring to some of the donors we have lined up."

The library has secured more than $10 million in contributions toward the $63 million price tag for renovations related to the seismic retrofitting. Originally, they had planned to raise a total of $18 million from private sources. Now that total has been reduced to $15 million.

The news that the campus has cut its private fund-raising goal surprised Sen. David Gladwell, R-Ogden, co-chairman of the Legislature's higher education appropriations subcommittee.

"I think that's a little bit of a concern and it will be for the Legislature," Gladwell told the Deseret Morning News. "If they find new funds and minimize their local match, the Legislature is going to ask why."

Lawmakers turned down the university's funding request last session despite an intense lobbying campaign that included the warning that 4,000 people could die and $300 million in library materials be destroyed in an earthquake.

U. Interim President Lorris Betz said he believes the federal grant improves the university's chances of winning support from lawmakers. "I would anticipate this should help us with our case for funding," Betz said.

He said making the Marriott Library safe remains the university's top priority. Betz blamed "bad timing" for the Legislature's decision not to add the project to the state's annual building bond. Much of the bond money is going towards toward remodeling the Capitol building.

The federal grant, one of just 58 awarded for disaster mitigation projects nationwide, is contingent upon the state funding, David Maurstad, a regional director for FEMA, said. It must be used within three years.

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com