October 30, 2020

Rethinking new fine arts/education building

For too long now the USU Eastern, College of Eastern Utah, campus has been housing programs in facilities that are, not only not state of the art, but rather “make do”. According to Chancellor Joe Peterson, examples of these “make do” facilities would be the SAC (Student Activities Center), the music building and the Geary Theater. He described the Geary Theater as “inadequate”, the music building as “seismically dangerous” and thinks that the arts are in the wrong place and shouldn’t be scattered in different buildings throughout campus.

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This archived article was written by: Karli Morris

For too long now the USU Eastern, College of Eastern Utah, campus has been housing programs in facilities that are, not only not state of the art, but rather “make do”. According to Chancellor Joe Peterson, examples of these “make do” facilities would be the SAC (Student Activities Center), the music building and the Geary Theater. He described the Geary Theater as “inadequate”, the music building as “seismically dangerous” and thinks that the arts are in the wrong place and shouldn’t be scattered in different buildings throughout campus.
Perhaps a solution is on the way though. Plans for a new building have been discussed with contractors as well as the state legislature. Preliminary plans have been drawn up, but are to incomplete to be released to the public. However, plans for a new building have been somewhat in the works for 12 years. The USU Eastern administration been requested the $20 million necessary for the building from the legislature for 12 years now, being turned down because of lack of funds each year. The difference is that this time the legislature has provided USU Eastern with planning money.
“We have a better chance this year that previous years because the legislature gave us $75,000 last year to use for planning. They don’t give $75,000 to something they don’t intend to do. This is not a guarantee that we will get the money this year, but it will be seriously looked into, said Chancellor Peterson.
The plan is to tear down all of the Geary Theater except for the stage and seating area, as well as the entire music building. The new building will take over the land where the current music building is and the Geary Theater. The theater will be rebuilt as a black box theater with seating all the way around the stage. Bathrooms, dressing rooms, a ticket booth and a lobby will all be rebuilt. Accommodations will also be made for art and music to be in the building; uniting the arts in one building.
Criminal Justice will also be moved into the new building. Currently criminal justice is held in an old, remodeled mechanics shop. The new building will also house all communications programs, currently located in the SAC.
Peterson says that this will be the last phase in the process of changing the USU Eastern Campus from “Little House on the Prairie to a modern college campus.” The previous two-thirds of improvements were the construction of the WIB (Western Instructional Building) and the Reeves Building.
The Legislative Infrastructure Appropriations Committee (a legislative committee that decides how funds are to be used) will be visiting the USU Eastern campus in September to go over the plans for the building.
None of the plans for the building are definite and may be changed as more planning is done, Peterson said.

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