The University of Utah will spend $160,801 to spruce up its presidential house for a new tenant.

The U. Institutional Council, the school's governing body, agreed Monday to make landscape and structural repairs and to redecorate and buy furniture for the presidential house.Utah businessman Joseph Rosenblatt donated his home, which is adjacent to the campus, to the U. in 1985 to be used as the official presidential residence.

U. President Chase N. Peterson will retire June 30. A committee is conducting a nationwide search for his replacement. Committee members hope to have the new president selected by the time Peterson retires.

"They have said all along that it is more important to get a good person than to meet a deadline," Cecelia Foxley, associate commissioner of higher education for academic affairs, said Monday.

Walter P. Gnemi, U. vice president for administrative services, said besides serving as living quarters for the U. president and his family, the Rosenblatt House is used for many university functions. Since 1985, the house has been the site of about 375 such functions.

"Given the heavy use of the house - there have been some 15,000 visitors - that takes its toll," Gnemi said.

The repairs and redecorating will be done in two stages. The $160,801 will not come from tax dollars but from earnings generated by a U. endowment account.

The first stage will include structural/mechanical repairs and landscape improvements. It will cost $100,625. Some of the items include:

- Installing a new, fully automatic sprinkling system, $20,000.

- Remodeling the pool house and dressing rooms and repairing the leaky pool, $14,000.

- Removing old landscaping and planting new shrubs and bushes, $21,000.

- Repairing flagstone walkways and construction of new walkway to pool house, $2,550.

The second stage will be to redecorate and repair the house's interior. Some of the $60,176 will be used to:

- Upgrade heating/ventilating system in sauna, $2,000.

- Repair water leak in dining room, $1,000.

- Re-paint rooms and install new carpets or floor coverings, $50,547.

Gnemi said new furniture must be purchased because it's doubtful that the new president will have sufficient and appropriate furniture to furnish the public areas of the 8,578-square-foot house.

Meanwhile, the presidential search committee has narrowed the field of candidates to 35.

Foxley said the committee hopes to bring 10 to 15 semifinalists to the campus for interviews in May.

She called the candidate pool "a good mix with good diversity." It includes women and minorities.