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Secret donor gives USU Eastern 25 acres to expand Price campus

Published October 17, 2011 1:30 pm

Price • College will likely develop space to advance energy study.
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A confidential donor has given Utah State University 25 acres of land in Price, effectively tripling the size of its satellite campus formerly known as the College of Eastern Utah.

The undeveloped land is a short walk east of the 13-acre school, a one-time community college and trade school long embedded in a residential area in the north end of town, and likely will be developed in a way that advances energy research relevant to the local coal-based economy, according to campus chancellor Joe Peterson.

"This is a major step for the college and Utah State University," he said.

The city of Price has recently begun cutting in a two-mile network of roads to serve the future USU Energy and Education Research Park, which will front the east side of Cedar Hills Drive.

The raw land was appraised for about $1.5 million, but with the city-built infrastructure the value of the gift exceeds $4 million, according to the city's community director, Nick Tatton. The city is building a connector, which will be called Research Way, through the property between Homestead and Airport roads. The parcel is just east and south of Carbon High School.

CEU merged with USU last year, and is now called USU Eastern under the fresh leadership of Peterson, the former Salt Lake Community College provost.

The sleepy Price campus, which had the state's smallest enrollment prior to the USU merger, was not hurting for space. But officials stressed the land gift will allow the school to leverage resources from a research university and local industry.

"This expands our ability to grow, but it won't be like the day after tomorrow there will be buildings there," Peterson said. "Our traditional economy is in the energy sector and coal mining. There is a lot of work to do in coal development, clean coal technology and other uses of coal technologies, like coke."

Officials have no specific plans in mind yet and are not ready to identify any future partners, other than the city.

"There is still much work to be done," USU President Stan Albrecht said Saturday at a Founder's Day event in Price where he announced the gift. "We will work with the various stakeholders in the community to determine the scope of our efforts as they relate to education and research. We are enthusiastic about taking these initial steps to create the opportunity to do more in the future."

bmaffly@sltrib.com