Weber State president talks legislative outcomes

Wednesday , March 15, 2017 - 5:00 AM

ANNA BURLESON, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Weber State University President Charles Wight gave a brief presentation Monday about the outcome of the 2017 legislative session.

The school will receive $2.3 million for salary and benefit increases and $480,000 for strategic workforce initiatives.

Wight said he’s working with a faculty committee and a staff advisory committee to determine how to allocate those funds.

“We did pretty well,” he said of the legislative session as a whole. “We didn’t get everything we asked for at the Legislature, but we never do and I think we did OK.”

The Utah System of Higher Education is receiving a $3.5 million boost for enrollment growth, but Wight said Weber State won't get any of that money because the school hasn't grown enough.

The university's enrollment increased by about 3 percent, from 25,955 students in 2015 to 26,809 students in 2016, according to Office of Institutional Research data.

"I just want to emphasize the importance of recruiting, retaining and graduating students,” Wight said.

Weber State will also receive a portion of the $6.5 million going to the USHE for performance funding. Last year the school received 13 percent of the money distributed for that reason.

Wight said the allocation is determined by a “very complicated formula” that looks not only at the number of graduates but whether they’re in high-need areas of study or from underserved populations. He said Weber State will find out how much it is getting in July or August.

Weber State is also slated to receive a portion of a $4 million engineering initiative allocated to the USHE. Wight said he estimates receiving between 20 and 30 percent of the total.

Weber State also received a $14 million allocation to renovate the Social Science Building, paired with language promising about $15 million during the next fiscal year and a $5 million donation from John E. Lindquist.

The building, which will be named Lindquist Hall, was originally slated to reopen for classes in fall 2018, but Wight said construction will now last longer, putting the official completion in the spring of 2019.

Wight said House Bill 198 passed, which would lower the minimum age to obtain a concealed carry permit from 21 to 18 — something the crowd of faculty and staff audibly groaned at.

Gov. Gary Herbert had yet to sign the bill as of Tuesday, March 14, and spokesman Paul Edwards told the Associated Press in February that Herbert would veto it should it progress through the Legislature unchanged. 

In February, Weber State spokeswoman Allison Barlow Hess told the Standard-Examiner having 18-year-old students with guns on campus has risks that probably outweigh the benefits.

In an email Tuesday, Hess said the college is watching the process and trying to understand the implications of the measure.

"Once it's effective, May 9, we will have a better sense of the impact on our campus community," she said.

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports.

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