Civil engineering isn't the only department within the University of Utah college of engineering with bragging rights "to how poor I am." The college as a whole ranks dead last among peer institutions for undergraduate funding.

Dean David W. Pershing said the engineering college is 77 percent below the average for undergraduate funding for 13 peer colleges. It will take $1 million to bring the U. school up one rung on the funding ladder to the next school, the University of Arizona.In addition, salaries of engineering faculty are critically low. While the average Utah college professor has a salary 20 percent below those of peers at comparable, out-of-state universities, an engineering professor has a salary 26 percent lower. For some of the best faculty, the salary gap is 100 percent, an engineering salary survey shows.

The money crunch is causing the college to push legislators into funding a four-year engineering initiative, largely aimed at increasing the college's base budget.

Last year, the college secured $750,000 from the Legislature. It will combine that money with $1.75 million raised from private donations to buy much-needed equipment.

The current legislative investment in U. engineering comes to $264,800.

Pershing said that amount will be used to stabilize teaching programs; raise salaries of key faculty members; stabilize civil engineering; expand mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science to help meet enrollment demands; and purchase additional equipment.

To continue with these goals, the funding request for Phase III will be $235,200 and $500,000 for Phase IV.

The dean said the college's growth, specifically the rebuilding of civil engineering, will depend on lawmakers' continuing to appropriate the catch-up money.