OGDEN -- Weber State University's proposed science building has cleared two more hurdles to becoming a reality.
* Last week, the state Building Board ranked the science building as the No. 1 capital priority for the state, not just for higher education.
* And WSU announced the proposed building has a name and a $5 million donor.
The donor is the Hall family, specifically Alan E. Hall, president of Weber State's Board of Trustees, donating with wife Jeanne and cousin David Hall.
The proposed building's name will be the Tracy Hall Science Center.
"H. Tracy Hall was the inventor of synthetic diamonds at General Electric, in 1954," said WSU President Chuck Wight.
Tracy Hall was the uncle of Alan Hall and the father of David Hall. David Hall has pledged half the $5 million total, as have Jeanne and Alan Hall.
"It's basically pretty easy to take charcoal and put it under high pressure, but it took awhile to figure out how to do it," Wight said of Tracy Hall's work. "Synthetic diamonds are used mostly for industrial cutting tools."
Tracy Hall (1919-2008) was an Ogden native. After leaving G.E., he became a full professor of chemistry at Brigham Young University, as well as director of research.
"We are very grateful to the Hall family for providing a lead gift that allows us to construct this building," Wight said.
The science building was first declared the top priority on a rank list by the Utah State Board of Regents.
The recent No. 1 ranking by the State Building Board increases the project's momentum, Wight said, adding that the State Building Board's list contained 29 projects.
"I think it's a combination of the importance of science education and also the really deplorable condition of our current building," Wight said of the high ranking.
In the current building, "there are life-safety issues, including seismic vulnerability, fire suppression and building egress."
The next hurdle for the proposed science building is consideration and ranking by the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations subcommittee, which will meet during the upcoming Utah legislative session, Wight said.
The final legislative votes on funding the project likely will happen in late February, he said.
"They usually do capital projects in the last couple weeks, after they find out what the final state income projection is," Wight said.
"We enjoy great support from our Legislature. Being No. 1 on the board ranking is a very good position, but we still have to do our due diligence with the Legislature. This is the right thing to do for our students."
Contact reporter Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @S_ENancyVanV.