Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Construction on Utah university campuses marks growth

Construction projects at universities across the state point to a steady stream of students staying on campus in addition to schools increasing online options.

Every four-year school in Utah has construction under way, from full-scale building expansion at the University of Utah to projects as small as a ramp connecting the upper and lower campus at Southern Utah University to create wheelchair access.

While enrollment numbers are still in flux, representatives from the University of Utah estimate an increase of more than 600 students on campus this semester, as compared to 2011. University officials reported 31,950 students enrolled last year, and had 32,592 enrolled in this first week of the semester.

Weber State University, traditionally a commuter campus, is increasing options for a traditional college atmosphere. The open-admissions school is in the home stretch of its three-building campus housing project. Stewart Wasatch Hall, the second building in the Wildcat Village project, is filled to capacity for its inaugural semester. Ground has been broken for the final building.

Officials at Utah State University are anticipating their enrollment numbers to be even with last year, keeping on par with a 10-year growth trend. Trent Hunsaker, USU marketing director, said students are still seeking out a traditional on-campus experience.

In Southern Utah, Dixie State College is preparing to dedicate its Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons on Sept. 7. The school received $35 million from the Utah Legislature in 2010 for the building's construction, on top of $3 million in 2009 legislative funding that went into planning, according to a Dixie news release. The six-story building houses a library, the English department, classrooms and student services including registration and financial aid. It is part of the school's plan to manage ongoing growth. Deseret News