One step closer to a fine arts building, an official new name and several expanded programs are what’s in store for USU Eastern this year.
Budget cuts and belt tightening also remain part of the big picture as well. Eastern Chancellor, Joe Peterson spoke honestly about the direction the college is headed in a sit down interview Wednesday afternoon.
USU Eastern is the permanent name for the Price campus. The new name is less cumbersome than Utah State University-College of Eastern Utah, the name under which the campus was run last year.
Price residents will still not see a Geary Theatre rebuild for at least one more year. Just as in the past 13 Utah legislative sessions, EasternвЂ™s request for the new building did not make the funding cut. However, for the second year in a row the college did receive money to move ahead with the design portion of the building.
In the 2012 session the legislature earmarked $75,000 to draw up preliminary plans for the fine arts building. The campus now has $500,000 to have an architectural firm produce the actual building plans down to construction-ready details.В Peterson said legislators are sending signals that they are committed to the construction project and that he is hopeful that it will be top priority in the 2014 session.
He also acknowledged that theВ cosmetology department has been proposed for elimination. Peterson also wanted to reassure the community that no other programs will be cut this year. The music, theater and automotive programs will remain as is, as well as the Eastern athletic department.
Peterson was excited to talk about three programs that will expand their offerings. The four-year-degree program in psychology will be expanded and will add a new faculty member.
The criminal justice program will expand its offerings to students and will also benefit from a new faculty position.
In order to meet the demand for skilled, highly-paid professionals, the welding program is also slated for expansion and will offer new courses.
Six faculty members tendered resignations and five of those open positions will be used in the three expanded programs.
According to Peterson, Eastern has also trimmed $250,000 from its administrative budget by eliminating two high-level administrative positions while also restructuring duties.
Next year the college will again evaluate all programs and make strategic cuts as needed. Any program that shows an increase in growth potential will also be looked at for expansion.
While it’s hard to let go of programs and courses that have been part of Eastern for a long time, Peterson remains upbeat that the process will result in a leaner, but more efficient institution that will serve the needs of the community while providing a high quality learning environment.