Project Details

The Future of Utah Science

Pioneer - One that goes before to remove obstructions and prepare the way for others.

The world is rarely changed through complacency. Real change requires the vision, focus, and determination to push beyond our current frontiers. These are the qualities of pioneers, and we invite you to join our team of pioneers as we blaze a new trail into the future.

In the 2021 State of Utah Legislative session, representatives approved a $60 million budget appropriation towards a landmark building project to house applied sciences. This was the largest amount of funds ever given to a university building project. The total budget is estimated to be $84.5 million, with the remaining funds coming from the university and its donors.

Currently, we already have $11 million in private donor commitments. In 2022, the College of Science, the College of Mines & Earth Sciences, and the departments of Physics & Astronomy and Atmospheric Sciences will be launching a public campaign to raise the remaining $13.5 million for this important project.

The new facility will become the new home of the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, providing both departments with state-of-the-art experimental and computing labs, updated classroom/lecture space, enhanced demonstration and community engagement capacity, and office space for the faculty, staff, and students.

The Physics and Astronomy and Atmospheric Sciences programs are an essential part of the university’s overall STEM efforts. Together, they teach more than 5,600 students and house faculty members. The courses the departments offer are requisites for 37 degrees and nine pre-professional programs across campus, including all engineering, computer science, and pre-medical programs.

These new spaces will allow the departments to address critical bottlenecks in science and technology degree programs.

Current undergraduate lab training is limited by our facilities. Undergraduate training requires classroom laboratory work, which the university is currently unable to offer all students. Research lab placement opportunities are also limited by our current facilities.

Additionally, the Department of Physics & Astronomy is active in providing community outreach programs in the state, despite limitations in classroom and demonstration capacity. New facilities will enhance the quality, safety, and reach of these efforts.

Currently the two departments occupy space in five locations on campus: the South Physics Building; the James Fletcher Building; the Intermountain Network Scientific Computation Center; and the Center for Cell and Genome Science in the Crocker Science Center. The Department of Atmospheric Sciences is located in the Frederick Albert Sutton Building.

The South Physics Building and the Fletcher Building house the majority of the Physical Science programs. These buildings are inadequate for modern research and require ongoing and increased operational and maintenance costs, which will continue to escalate. The South Physics Building will likely be used for administrative offices, while portions of the Fletcher Building will likely be demolished.

The approved site is located south of the Crocker Science Center (completed in 2018) and includes a renovation of the 40,729 square-foot Stewart building and 100,000 square feet of new construction. Instruction and research space will consume 91% of the building, with the remaining 9% dedicated to faculty and staff offices.

Aerial view of west campus.

Aerial view of building site.

The project will transform the west entrance of the university, creating a core gathering space in the heart of the west campus that will facilitate connection and interdisciplinary collaboration between the sciences. Areas for outdoor classes, gatherings, and events, connect the academic buildings that frame its edges.

The economic benefits of this project should not be understated. Science and Mathematics are significant contributors to the economy. An example of this is a 2018 Gardner Policy Institute study which found life sciences companies make significant economic impacts in Utah, indirectly supporting 6.7 percent of the state’s employment, 5.9 percent of its personal income, and 7.9 percent of its gross domestic product. Total economic impacts were 130,439 jobs, $7.6 billion in personal income, and $13.0 billion in GDP. In 2017, the average compensation per employee in the life sciences industry was $86,396.

Undergraduate student researchers.

Programs such as the new Science Research Initiative provide our undergraduate students with the real-world research experience that is so valuable in today’s economy. SRI participants graduate with a huge advantage over their counterparts in other programs.

The U of U is Utah’s number one educator of science students. Every engineer, every nurse and doctor, every scientist and chemist, every bio lab technician and statistician created in this university must first pass through the College of Science in preparation for a STEM-based career. In 2017, 49% of STEM degrees awarded by Utah System of Higher Education institutions were from the University of Utah. The Atmospheric Sciences Graduate Program is the only one in the state.

We are creating rare, valuable job skills at the College of Science, and we need to expand this cross-disciplinary science and math education. In short, this new Science Center will revitalize the University of Utah campus, and is vital if Utah is to build its national potential as a leader in science.

The full impact of this project will not be felt until years in the future. The facility will change the university in fundamental ways, dramatically improving the learning experience for more than 5,600 students per year. The knowledge these students gain will drive the discoveries of tomorrow. These students are the scientists, mathematicians, engineers, computer scientists, and medical professionals of the future. With our help, some will become the next generation of pioneers.

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The Stewart School

The Stewart School

The William M. Stewart School was established as a training school for school teachers (Normal School) at the University of Utah in 1891 and continued under the State College of Education and the Graduate School of Education.

The Stewart School was attended by children from kindergarten to high school age. The Stewart School closed in 1965. The building was named after William M. Stewart, the founder of the school.

Primex Analog Clock

1999 School Reunion

Stewart School graduates gather for old times' sake and stir fond memories of '30s.

A group of graduates returned Friday to the University of Utah campus, but it looked a lot different than when they completed classes there in 1933.

But the women, all in their late 70s or early 80s, found one structure, the William M. Stewart Building, looking much the same.Except for missing playground equipment that was outside the building many years ago and some structural changes inside, the ivy-laden building, built in the early 1900s, looked much the same. It is located south of the Utah Museum of Natural History.

The Stewart Training School, a laboratory school for University of Utah students preparing for a teaching career, was where the women either attended kindergarten or first through the ninth grades.

The building housed the school from 1919 to 1966, according to a plaque on the building. It currently houses the university's anthropology program. Many of the Stewart School students, including three of the women in the group Friday, were children of university faculty members.

"Everyone has heard of five-year, 10-year, 20- or even up to 50-year class reunions. But our gathering Friday was to celebrate 66 years. It's unusual for a group to get together after all that time," said Etta Lou Cowles Rose, 81, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Original tile floors.

A California resident for 54 years, Rose was the "catalyst" for the group getting together for lunch and a brief visit to the school.

The women say many of those who graduated with them in 1933 have moved away or died. They don't know the whereabouts of the rest. But the seven women, most of whom were childhood friends and who grew up in the same neighborhood near the university campus, say they like to keep in touch and to gather together as often as they can.

In 1988, a reunion of many of the former students of the school attracted about 600 to the campus, said Sarah Anne Nelson Jones, who took reservations for that gathering.

Besides Jones and Rose, those who graduated in 1933 and who gathered Friday for lunch or for a visit to the school, are: Gwen Colton Anderson, Betty Jean Neil Anderson, Jacqueline Allen Jeremy and Marsha Ballif Midgley.

Mary Ellen Taylor Jackson, who graduated from the school in 1936 and a close friend of the other women, joined the group.

Several of the women (six live in Salt Lake City) went on after attending Stewart School to attend East High School, the U. or other colleges or universities. Five are graduates of East High and the U.

A visit to the campus brought back many pleasant memories, but some in the group said getting around the campus and finding a parking spot wasn't easy.

"I don't know the university anymore. I get lost up here," said Rose, who toured the campus earlier in the week with a faculty member.

Midgley, 80, who serves on a number of organizations at the U., is a resident of Salt Lake City and more acquainted with how to find her way around on the large campus.

The Cowles Building is named after Rose's father, LeRoy E. Cowles, who was U. president from 1941 to 1945.

Ballif Hall, a men's residence hall, is named after Marsha Ballif Midgley's father, Dean John L. Ballif. He was dean of men at the university.

Mary Ellen Taylor Jackson's father, A. LeRoy Taylor, was dean of the School of Mines and Engineering.

Jackson said she gets together three or four times a year for lunch with quite a large of number of those with whom she graduated in 1936.

"One thing I remember about Stewart School is that the teachers really spent a lot of time getting acquainted with the students. We felt we were really important to them."

- Originally published by Douglas D. Palmer in the Desert News.

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