BY TOM BUSSELBERG
LAYTON - It’s still called Weber State University, but a new building and thousands of students from Davis County are giving northern Utah students a run for their money.
“It’s a purple letter day.”
That’s how Davis Chamber of Commerce President Jim Smith characterized the occasion of unveiling the new building on the Weber State Davis campus late last week.
Hundreds of people gathered, from students to a former state senator, to mark the opening of the 120,000-square-foot building. It will house 39 classrooms and laboratories, but also a cafeteria, ballroom/meeting area and other student union-type functions.
“It will be interesting to see the campus build out in 50 years,” said Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, a Fruit Heights resident, who suggested the 100-acre campus might be a good fit for a new Wildcat stadium.
“This building was built and conceived during the bottom of the recession,” he said.
He recalled the vision of such people as the late Farmington legislator Marda Dillree and Haven Barlow, of Layton, the longest serving legislator ever, who was in attendance.
Charles Wight, Weber State president said the institution has had a physical presence in Davis County for nearly four decades, starting with rented space.
Now, the Davis campus serves more than 4,000 students and more students from the county attend WSU than students from Weber County, Wight said.
There is a potential for at least 10 buildings to fill the campus, providing facilities for 10,000 to 15,000 students, the university president said.
The Davis campus offers 17 degree programs, from associate to master’s, and in some cases students don’t have to take any classes at the main campus in Ogden, Wight said.
“The future is very bright,” said Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton. He added there is nothing better than being able to provide students with the tools to obtain a quality education, speaking in a short video.
The Northern Utah Academy of Math, Education and Science, or NUAMES, by which it is known, is also housed there. Its enrollment cap has been increased from 500 to 550, reflective of the additional space used by the academy at WSU Davis during the day.
Smith recalled that when a northern Utah coalition of chambers of commerce was formed, its first priority was to back construction of the new building, officially called D-3.
“The chamber is all about economic development,” and that means starting with such principles as aiding third graders to attain strong reading skills, he said.
“This is no longer a vision,” said County Commissioner Louenda Downs said. “It’s becoming a reality,”