SALT LAKE CITY — Business students at Utah State University now have a new space on campus for classroom learning and private study.
University leaders Wednesday officially opened the Jon M. Huntsman Hall, an addition to the existing George S. Eccles Business Building. The project adds 21 classrooms, 21 study rooms, a common area and other facilities to accommodate growing student enrollment at the college.
"It's a student-focused building. There are very few faculty offices here," said Dave Patel, associate dean of student and external affairs for the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
The original business building, now 46 years old, was built for about 1,000 students, but the college now enrolls more than three times that capacity, Patel said.
"There's a very real physical need," Patel said.
State funding for buildings on Utah's higher education campuses has been an evolving conversation among state lawmakers in recent months. The Legislature this year considered a bill that would award state dollars for capital projects to institutions each year, rather than the current system that provides funding on a project-by-project basis.
Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, said the measure would encourage institutions to use state dollars even more frugally and allow them to plan ahead by saving money.
"They can use that for one building; they can use it for a series of buildings," Urquhart said during a February committee meeting. "This, I think, would drive them to use that money more responsibly."
The bill failed to pass before the Legislature adjourned last week, though lawmakers may address the proposal in future sessions, Urquhart said.
The new facility at USU came with a $50 million price tag, but $35 million — 70 percent of the overall costs — was covered by private donations. The donations, Patel said, show deep community support for the needs of today's students on campus while giving the college room to grow.
"That had to play a big part in the support that we did receive from our taxpayers. And we're very grateful for that," he said.