WSU seeks approval for land purchase and poverty center

Friday , March 20, 2015 - 12:27 AM

By BECKY WRIGHT
Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — Weber State University is working to acquire land in central Ogden for its Community Outreach Center. It's also working on establishing a Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality.

The Board of Trustees Tuesday approved the purchase of property on the southwest corner of 26th Street and Monroe Boulevard.

WSU currently rents space for its Community Outreach Center in the United Way building, 2955 Harrison Blvd.

“It's really the arms and legs of our mission to immerse the university in inner-city Ogden, and help the families in inner-city Ogden succeed, economically and educationally,” said Norm Tarbox, vice president for Administrative Services.

Programs offered at the center encourage and support minorities, and other under-represented populations, through the transition to higher education.

“Continuing Education would like a permanent location for the Community Outreach Center, and would very much like to get more into the center of the neighborhood we're trying to affect,” said Tarbox.

The proposed location for the new center is at 2605 Monroe Blvd., just south of Ogden School District's James Madison Elementary School.

“I understand a gas station called Stimson's used to be there,” Tarbox said.

The price that's been negotiated for the 1.4-acre property is $560,000.

There are currently two buildings on the site, which WSU plans to tear down in the future.

“We don't have the money to build the Community Outreach Center now but look at this as a real opportunity to secure the property,” said Tarbox.

A letter from Tarbox to the state Board of Regents asks that the proposed land purchase be put on the agenda for the regents meeting March 27.

WSU's trustees also unanimously passed a request to establish a Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality.

“Weber State is one of 21 colleges and universities selected to participate in the national initiative by the American Association of State Colleges and University's American Democracy Project, to focus on looking at poverty and inequality, and how that affects democracy in this country,” said Kevin Sullivan, the board's vice chairman.

WSU was selected, in part, because of the demographics of the area served by the school.

“Ogden, in particular, has fairly significant numbers of folks that live below poverty level, and a fairly significant number of students that are on free or reduced lunch programs,” said Sullivan, adding that one responsibility tied to the center will be researching grants that could be brought to the university to help underprivileged populations.

Unlike the Community Outreach Center, the proposed Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality will not have its own building.

It is expected to cost $25,000 to fund the center. Mike Vaughan, who is stepping down as WSU's provost to return to teaching, will serve as the director without an increase in his salary.

The proposal for the Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality will also go to the state Board of Regents for final approval.

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

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