The University of Utah plans to locate all of its ophthalmological research and patient services in a $9.7 million facility that will be built and operated without state funds.
U. President Chase N. Peterson told the university's Institutional Council Monday that an unnamed donor, who will be announced later, has contributed $4 million of the price and the rest will be raised from other donations and grants.
The Institutional Council also heard that Salt Lake philanthropist O.C. Tanner has donated $250,000 for construction of a fountain at the north entrance to University Hospital.
Dr. Randall J. Olson, U. ophthalmology department chairman, later told the Deseret News that the $4 million donation, which the U. has already received, comes from an out-of-state donor with local ties.
The donor's identity will be announced this spring when he can arrange a trip to Utah. If the donor agrees, the building will be named after him, the department chairman said.
The new building will include faculty offices, classrooms, clinic areas and surgical suites, including an outpatient surgery area. It will contain no patient rooms. Patients will still be hospitalized in the adjacent hospital.
The department's faculty, research projects and services are spread across the campus, so the new building will locate the U.'s ophthalmological concerns, including the artificial eye project, at one site.
"Overall, our space needs have increased in the last nine years, and we're bursting at the seams," Olson said, explaining the decision to build a new facility.
Olson said that the ophthalmology department had only one faculty member nine years ago but now has 19. He also reported that the total number of department employees has gone from seven to 120 and the department's annual budget has jumped from $220,000 to more than $4 million.
Of that budget, approximately 65 percent comes from patient fees and 35 percent from grants and other sources. Olson said less than 1 percent of the budget, or a little less than $40,000, comes from state funds.
Because the the department is essentially self-supporting, it will be able to operate and maintain the facility without drawing on state resources, Olson said.
U. Vice President for Administrative Services Walter Gnemi said the building received legislative and regent approval in 1988.
The Institutional Council ratified the proposal Monday, authorizing the U. to work with the State Division of Facilities, Construction and Management on building design, bidding and construction.
Peterson said the fountain will consist of shallow reflecting pools and a recirculating water course that will run the entire length of the hospital driveway. The fountain will resemble a brook, with water falling down an 8-foot drop and then cascading over boulders, he said.