Utah State University Moab Campus Set to Expand
by Gus Jarvis
Jul 04, 2012 | 1493 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MOAB, Utah – While national parks, pristine landscapes and unique Western geology have always drawn people to Moab, higher education will soon be a major draw to the rural community, as well, as Utah State University embarks on a 30-year master plan of its Moab campus that will bring more students and educational programs to the rural region.

Thanks to a donation of 20 acres of land in 1995 and a recent $15 million gift from Moab resident Wendy Walker-Tibbetts and her family, a 30-year master plan of USU’s Moab Campus envisions an educational facility located on a 40-acre site approximately three miles south from the center of Moab just off of U.S. Hwy. 191. Just a two-hour drive from Telluride, the new campus, once completed, will be one of the largest higher education facilities in the region.

The master plan was presented to the community last December.

The land use plan includes approximately 11 acres of land for student housing that could bring up to 270 units to the campus, 26 acres of land for multi-family housing (up to 510 units of housing and 24 acres of land for single-family housing that could yield up to 95 units). As for educational facilities, the campus plan includes 426,000 gross square feet of buildings including 60,000 square feet of federal agency space, a student union and a small amount of retail space.

This fall’s student enrollment at USU-Moab was 130 students. Upon completion of the 30-year master plan, school officials say student enrollment could reach 3,500.

“In general, the community recognizes that higher education could be a very valuable piece to the community,” said Steve Hawks, associate dean of USU’s Moab Center. “On another level, it will be a positive impact on the economy by drawing a trained workforce to Moab. It will provide affordable education for young people in the area who may not have the means to go anywhere else.”

The land use plan situates student housing within easy walking distance of the new university campus, creating a compact, walkable campus district. At build-out, it is envisioned there will be clustered schools based upon degree programs and departments. Initially, all current programs will be housed in the same facility, but as the campus, faculty, staff, programs and enrollment grow, each building or pod of buildings will take on a specific purpose.

As planned, completion of the 30-year master plan takes place in seven phases, with the expected completion of the first phase in the next five years. Phase one includes the construction of three buildings that will provide 32,000 square feet of research, classroom and laboratory space; student support areas; faculty and administrative offices; and a multi-purpose space that can accommodate up to 500 students. One of those buildings, a lecture hall facility, can accommodate up to 200 people for small concerts, theatre, receptions, banquets, film screenings, and lectures – and then expand, thanks to  large retractable glass doors, to accommodate up to 1,000 people for events performed on its multi-purpose stage.

Anticipated educational programming most likely to develop in the first phase include natural resources, geology/geoscience, digital media/health and tourism management.

“The infrastructure piece is the next big step in which we break ground for the new campus,” Hawks said, adding that phase one is expected to be completed in three to five years. “This will fit in well. Moab is a fairly isolated community. Now, you have to pack up and move if you want to get a college degree, without something in Moab. Aside from providing higher education for our local population, Moab is a destination where people want to come. Having a world class facility and programs that take advantage of the geology and recreational resources, this will represent an ideal place to come and study certain types of things, especially since we have so many federal agencies here.”

Work to draft the master plan has been in the works since 2008 and has included input from stakeholders from various agencies and community members. To see the complete master plan or for more information visit moab.usu.edu/.

 

gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com or @gusgusj

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