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USU president meets the press, touts USU growth, buildings and future

February 17th, 2012 Posted in Opinion

By Kristi Ottley

LOGAN—Utah State University is undergoing a makeover, with many new additions to its campus and landscape—a new veterinary school, multiple new buildings, and a luxurious new Aggie Rec Center in its near future.

USU President Stan Albrecht discussed his school’s prospects and health Wednesday in a wide-ranging conversation with journalism students.

Albrecht is bullish on USU’s health, quality and future.

“We should go into [the Utah Legislature] and do a shout-out,” Albrecht said at Wednesday’s press conference with student journalists for Hard News Café and Aggie TV News. “Because we are so good—you are so good. We’ve been doing such great things!”

• See related story: Tuition will rise in 2012, Albrecht says.

Since becoming USU president in 2005, Albrecht said, he has overseen construction of 23 new buildings—including the new $40 million College of Agriculture building, rising on the east end of the USU Quad. JCOM, the Agriculture dean’s office and several Ag departments will move into the new building in March.

Albrecht said USU’s new school of veterinary medicine, which is admit its first students in the Fall, is one addition he is very proud of. It is the first vet school in the state, and Albrecht said it is an obvious addition for USU, the state’s land-grant agricultural university.

Thirty students will make up the first vet school class. Albrecht said 20 students from Utah have already been selected, and will be joined by 10 students from other states. More than 800 applications have been received for those spots.

“The interest has been incredible,” said Albrecht. “This is a huge step for us.”

The new veterinary medicine students will spend two years at USU for pre-clinical training, and will complete their final two years at Washington State University, which is USU’s partner during the program’s start-up.

Albrecht also is excited about another development west of Romney Stadium. Blue Square is a new housing and commercial complex that is going to offer a whole new living experience for USU students.

“It is going to be a little bit higher end in terms of a living place,” said Albrecht. The new complex will include both housing and shops and restaurants—a coffee shop, a café, and even an outdoor amphitheater. Plans call for a skywalk over 800 East, connecting the housing complex to the parking lot at Romney Stadium.

USU alum David Miller of Jacksonville, Fla., is the developer. Albrecht says Blue Square will offer students a new, comfortable, and convenient place to live, as well as an place to grab a sandwich and drink on before or after an Aggie football game.

“It will create more of an atmosphere, more of a tailgating atmosphere, more of a sort of game-day atmosphere,” Albrecht said.

There is also a possibility of an international house being integrated into the new development to accommodate international students, Albrecht said.

Another future project still to be determined will be use for the property on 400 North just east of campus that is now occupied by the LDS stakehouse known as “The Golden Toaster,” the president said.

Albrecht said the Toaster will be torn down and “another great university building will go in its spot.” The university obtained the property in a deal with the LDS Church that included a swap for the former Aggie trailer park on 1200 North.

A multimillion Aggie Recreation Center is another possible new addition to the USU campus. Before construction can begin on the new building and a $1.985 million project to add lighted artificial-turf “Legacy” playing fields between the HPER building and the Spectrum, students will be asked to approve a new $30/semester fee to support the projects. If students approve the fee, it will increase to $75/semester in the future to support the facilities.

If USU students do not approve the fee in this month’s ASUSU balloting, “there will be financial issues,” Albrecht said.

With the multi-million dollar proposal for a new recreation center, and a new $7.5 million strength facility for athletes only, many students are concerned that USU is focusing too much on athletics and not enough on academics.

But Albrecht firmly disagrees with this perception. Athletics are a huge part of any university, he said, but they are not more important than academics. Only two of the 23 new USU buildings built during his tenure as president have been dedicated to athletics, Albrecht said.

Sports is just a means to an end, the president said; many Aggie athletes go on to careers in other fields. “They attribute their success as businessmen or whatever else they are doing to the experience they had here, and so they give back,” said Albrecht.

“[Athletics] is also the vehicle that connects so many of our alumni back to the institution and wherever you go that connection is there, and that is important to what we are trying to do,” Albrecht said.


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