OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University is moving ahead with plans to construct the new Tracy Hall Science Center thanks to the Utah State Legislature’s funding of $57.4 million for the project.
The building will be named the Tracy Hall Science Center in honor of two local families that have enjoyed a long legacy with WSU.
The Tracy family settled in the Ogden area in 1851. They encouraged their children to become educated and use that education to serve others. Aaron Tracy served as one of the first WSU presidents from 1922-35.
The Hall family came to Ogden as railroad workers in 1892. Howard Hall married Florence Tracy in 1918, and their five sons greatly benefitted from their Weber State education. Their oldest son, Tracy, graduated from Ogden High and started attending Weber State in 1937 — a beneficiary of a work-for-tuition program the school offered.
Tracy went on to become a scientist, and while working for the General Electric research labs was the first to invent a reproducible way to convert carbon into a man-made diamond.
Tracy, who passed away in 2008, is the uncle of WSU Board of Trustees Chair Alan Hall, who is also a WSU alumnus.
The science center will be located in the heart of campus, just north of Stewart Bell Tower Plaza and east of Elizabeth Hall, where Building 3 and Building 4 currently stand. When the 174,000-square-foot structure is complete, it will allow for cross-disciplinary collaboration among students and faculty.
The current Science Lab building was dedicated in 1969 and has serious life-safety issues, including asbestos, seismic instability, a lack of fire suppression, low floor-to-floors heights and worn infrastructure that do not provide adequate ventilation for chemicals used for teaching and research. This facility will be leveled once programs have moved into the new Tracy Hall Science Center.
“WSU is committed to training the next generation of Utah’s scientists and health professionals, and this proposed facility will reflect that passion,” said WSU President Charles A. Wight.
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates have increased by 50 percent at WSU over the past 10 years. Of those STEM graduates, 84 percent are employed full time within three months of graduation and earn an average salary of $44,613. Ninety-two percent are employed in Utah.
Nearly all WSU students will take classes in the Tracy Hall Science Center, either as science majors or to complete general education requirements. Interior windows will offer a view into experiments conducted in research laboratories. The research and instructional labs will be housed in two laboratory towers with the classrooms and offices on an eastern wing. A large atrium will tie the laboratory towers and classroom wing together.
“The atrium will put science on display, which is a major theme for the building, and hopefully will pique interest in science as a career,” said Wight, who has a doctoral degree in chemistry and a passion for science education.
In 2013, the state allotted $3.5 million for the design phase of the project. That money, combined with the 2014 funding, will cover most of the anticipated $61,606,143 planning and building costs. An additional $12.3 million for equipment, technology and furnishings will come from generous donors and university funds.
Plans should be complete by the end of April with a groundbreaking in May. Construction is anticipated to take two years, and the doors will open to students fall semester 2016.
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