On April 1, Utah State University will hold a ribbon-cutting for its new Moab campus. The event will include a tour, an opportunity to contribute to a USU Moab Community Scholarship fund, and a ceremony to bury a community time capsule.

“We’re here to serve the community,” said Lianna Etchberger, associate vice president of USU Moab. She said she wanted the new campus to feel less institutional and more friendly, a place where any Moabite could find a new passion in their education. The new campus will allow USU Moab to grow “significantly,” she said.

“I’m really hoping that we’ll work harder with the local school district to reach out to communities that aren’t coming here on their own, and see what we can do to invite more people to explore post-secondary options,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll start pounding away at that intergenerational poverty cycle.”

Construction for the new building began in November 2020. The building will be USU’s first net-zero energy building and is certified “silver level” by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the most widely used green building rating system. The building utilizes solar power, ground-source heating and cooling, interior finishes free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and multiple water conservation measures.

Etchberger said she and the architects had to work within the limitations of their budget, being located in a rural town, and delays due to COVID-19, but sustainability was always top of mind when creating the building.

The new campus will also allow USU Moab to expand its academic offerings: the building includes specialized facilities for fabrication and welding, health professions like nursing and pharmaceuticals, science teaching, and a demonstration kitchen.

Etchberger said she also wants to grow the natural resources and recreation and hospitality programs to capitalize on why people—scientists, outdoor guides, and tourists alike—flock to Moab in the first place.

“And I would love to have, one day, some kind of public lands center where we could collaborate with other universities,” she said.

Ribbon cutting

The ribbon-cutting for the campus will be held at 3:30 p.m., and the public is invited to attend either in-person or via live stream. The campus tour will start at 4 p.m., and the burial of the time capsule at 5 p.m.

The 19.5 x 15.5 x 9.6-inch time capsule will be packed with community submissions, approved by USU officials, that convey what Moabites are experiencing in 2022 and their hopes for the future. The container will be buried in a patio on the campus and excavated and opened in 2072.

At a meeting on March 15, Grand County commissioners brainstormed ideas to submit to the time capsule. Commissioner Evan Clapper suggested a piece of outdoor recreation equipment to reflect the significance of tourism and recreation in the county’s economy today. Commissioner Jacques Hadler said a good candidate would be a mechanical shifter for a bike, which he said will soon be obsolete as new bike models transition to electronic shifters.

“I would include a Sprinter van, but it’s too big,” Commissioner Sarah Stock joked.

Clapper also suggested something representing the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action project, which is projected to be completed in the next few years and will likely be a memory in 2072. Commissioner Mary McGann said she plans to submit a copy of House Bill 257, which designated Utahraptor State Park in 2021. She also joked that perhaps the capsule should include a vial of Colorado River water, “in case there isn’t any” in 50 years.

Commissioner Kevin Walker suggested aerial photographs of the Moab Valley, so in 50 years the community can see differences in development and land use.

The new campus is located on Aggie Boulevard, just south of town off Highway 191. The campus can also be accessed from a dirt road off Francis Drive, a bit further south on the highway. Etchberger suggested that any community members who want to attend the ribbon-cutting carpool since parking is limited.