Members of the USU-Moab advisory board meet with Provost Noelle Cockett: (from left) Donna Metzler, Joe Kingsley, Pat Holyoak, Steve Hawks, Roy Barraclough, Karen Feary, Chris Luecke, Noelle Cockett, Sena Hauer. Mike Bynum was also present at the meeting, but unavailable for the group photo.[Courtesy photo]  

The Utah State University – Moab regional campus is one step closer to becoming a reality.

USU committed funds for planning and designing the first phase of the new campus. The USU-Moab regional campus is set to be located three miles south of downtown Moab on a 40-acre parcel along U.S. Hwy 191.

“A couple of years ago, we created a 30-year master plan for what could possibly happen (with the campus),” said Steve Hawks, USU-Moab’s dean. “USU has committed design funding to come up with a concrete, very specific, and realistic plan for that first phase.”

USU Provost and Executive Vice-President Noelle Cockett committed the planning-and-design funds while in Moab for a strategic planning session with USU-Moab’s advisory board.

“The university is strongly committed to Moab and providing the community with access to higher education,” Cockett said. “We know this will help serve as an economic engine to eastern Utah.”

The USU-Moab Community Advisory Board, consisting of Donna Metzler, Pat Holyoak, Jim Webster, Joe Kingsley, Dylan Beck, Mike Bynum, Sena Hauer, and Roy Barraclough, said the funding will help get the project the jump-start it needs.

“We have had kind of a lackadaisical view up to this point and were just kind of thinking that the campus will eventually just happen,” Holyoak said. “This funding commitment from USU makes the project seem more like it will happen.”

The first phase of the USU-Moab regional campus will include three primary components: classroom space, faculty and administration space, and a student commons area. Hawks said the classroom space will be designed to meet a number of different needs.

“Our current student population is local – Moab adults who need to go to school in the evening,” he said. “So we will have classroom space that is dedicated to distance education and video conferencing. We also anticipate growing a more traditional, college-age student body, so we will have classroom space that is designed for traditional face-to-face classes. We also have growing nursing and allied-health programs and other sciences, such as geology, so we will have some space dedicated to labs to help support the sciences, which is something we don’t really have now – and desperately need.”

The design and planning teams will also work to make the campus fit the needs of the community and the natural surrounding area.

“It will be lean and functional, but it will also be efficient and attractive, and designed to fit into this unique environment that we have here,” Hawks said.

The first phase of the project has been downsized from the original master plan, which was developed a couple of years ago. The original master plan included an auditorium that was cut during the strategic planning session.

“I was very excited to see the changes in the first phase of the campus,” Holyoak said. “Downsizing the plan made the task seem more feasible.”

Hawks said the community has expressed concern about adding a sudden, large influx of students to the area. The committee has designed a plan which creates a slower student growth over time.

“Right now, we are at about 160 students locally,” he said. “We want to design something that is going to accommodate 500 students in phase one. There are plans for student housing to be developed on the State and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) lands immediately adjacent to the campus. So, as we start having students from the outside area, there are plans to accommodate that.”

Currently, the advisory board is in the process of developing a scope of work for the architects. As the process moves forward, planning and design will include joint input and work with the City of Moab, Grand County, SITLA, the Grand County School District, and the Utah Department of Transportation. Residents are also encouraged to share their opinions.

“Anybody in the community is invited to participate,” Hawks said. “The meetings will all be open and very transparent and inclusive to try and get as much input as we can.”

Once the plan is in place, USU-Moab will work closely with the community to generate a fundraising plan to get the first phase actually built, Hawks said. One specific objective of the design-and-planning phase will include determining the actual cost to build the campus.

The design-and-planning phase has already started, Hawks said.

“I think the scope of work will be finalized in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “It will then be a two-to-three month process to get the architects back on board and get the design finalized. That will take us into the summer, and by fall of this year we will be in full fundraising mode.”

Currently, the development of a campus in Moab is supported by both the City of Moab and Grand County. The City of Moab has set up a long-term savings account for development of the campus. Initially in 2011, the account started with $75,000. Metzler, the City of Moab manager, said she anticipates the account to be increased to $150,000 in June.

“The City of Moab is pleased that the USU-Moab campus project is moving forward, as the project has been one of the City’s top economic-development priorities for several years,” Metzler said.

The Grand County Council has not yet set aside funds for campus development, but Grand County Council administrator Ruth Dillon said it could possibly be looked at this fall when the County Council starts the budgeting process for next year.

The addition of the college campus to Moab will benefit the entire community, advisory board chair Roy Barraclough said.

“This is an important project for the community for several reasons: USU has a number of campuses in the state and they have been a welcome addition to those communities; the campuses provide opportunities to students who would not necessarily have them without the campuses; and students are able to get the same degrees as if they had attended the main campus in Logan or other universities like the University of Utah,” Barraclough said.

Holyoak said the tourism industry in Moab also creates a unique opportunity for a relationship between Moab businesses and the college students.

“We have the prime community for a campus,” Holyoak said. “We have the tourist industry. We have jobs from the industry students could help fill. Young people can do these jobs and get their degrees. Tourists can recreate and everyone is a winner.

“The campus just puts Moab on the map,” Barraclough said.

Utah State University commits funds for Moab campus

“Right now, we are at about 160 students locally. “We want to design something that is going to accommodate 500 students in phase one. There are plans for student housing to be developed on the State and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) lands immediately adjacent to the campus. So as we start having students from the outside area, there are plans to accommodate that.”