News Column

Weber State plans center at Station Park

July 21, 2014

By Becky Wright, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah

July 21--FARMINGTON -- The best place for a business professional to earn a master's degree may be in a busy commerce center -- it's an idea that Weber State University is banking on.

During the State Board of Regents meeting held July 18, in Cedar City, WSU received permission to lease space in Farmington to expand its Continuing Education programs.

"It was a request from Weber State to lease about 10,000 square feet of space in Station Park," said Charles A. Wight, president of Weber State University. "We're planning to offer a professional education program, that will be two different master's degrees and a master's certificate in sales."

Maps attached to the request, on the Board of Regents web site, show WSU is planning to lease the third floor of Building C, above the Banana Republic and Old Navy stores.

"It's just an empty shell right now," said Bruce Davis, university vice provost and dean of Continuing Education. "It's a beautiful space, on the top floor of the building, with ample parking. Also, it's a nice location for Weber State."

Station Park is one of the more successful transit-oriented development sites in the state, said Wight.

"It is the intersection of (State) Route 89 and I-15, and a Trax line," he said. "It will be very, very easy for people to get there."

Davis said WSU's presence at Station Park will be an executive education center.

"We're targeting business and health professions groups. ... These will be new students and new programs that we're bringing in, in the fall of 2015," said Davis. "We'll be starting up with an executive Master's of Health Administration program."

A lot of the students in the program will be from out of state, mostly from the intermountain West. The classes will have a heavy online component, but students will make occasional trips to Farmington for intensive meetings. When at Station Park, Davis said, students will likely be lodged in the Hyatt Regency hotel being built nearby.

After getting the Master's of Health Administration program up and running, Davis said the plan is to add an executive Master's of Taxation degree, a graduate Certificate in Sales, a Six Sigma quality management program, and some other programs including computer forensics.

The space will be prepared over the next year, dividing it into classrooms, seminar rooms, a conference room and offices.

"One of the main things we need to make sure of is that this center supports itself financially," said Davis. "We anticipate that tuition will be enough to make the lease payments and cover instruction costs. ... Once that's done, if there's space available, we may do some other university programming in there as well."

According to the request documents, WSU expects 40 students to attend classes at the Station Park Professional Education Center the first year it's open; it will operate at a loss that year, with $203,000 in tuition revenue balanced against a lease expense of $237,000, and $95,000 in other expenses. It's expected to break even the second year, with 100 students bringing in $520,000 to pay $275,000 in lease expenses, and $98,000 in other costs.

Weber State wasn't the only school making requests of the Board of Regents on July 18. The regents also authorized Utah State University to work with Brigham City in creating a ground lease for the new USU Brigham City Campus Academic Building, and to move forward on a lease-purchase agreement for a research and testing facility for electric vehicles at its Innovation Campus in Logan.

The University of Utah was given approval to design and build and Ambulatory Care Center facility in Farmington.

Representatives from Utah universities also took the opportunity to make requests for capital development projects. Weber State University put in a request to renovate the Social Sciences building, at a cost of $30.1 million. If approved and funded, the building will be gutted and reconfigured, and brought up to current seismic and ADA codes. Among the requests made by other universities is a renovation of the George Thomas building at the University of Utah, which used to house the Utah Museum of Natural History, to be a center for science and math. Utah State University requested a new biological sciences building and a clinical services building. The Capital Facilities Committee will score these requests, as will the State Building Board, before projects are presented to the legislature for possible funding.

Contact reporter Becky Wright at 801-625-4274 or Follow her on Twitter at @ReporterBWright


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