1 of 3
Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
UVSC students hold a sign thanking officials during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Digital Learning Center.

OREM — A backhoe ripped through a parking lot at Utah Valley State College on Wednesday, breaking ground for a new $50 million library.

Yet this is no ordinary library.

To hear college administrators and community leaders talk, the structure, called the Digital Learning Center, is a major building block of the school's future.

At the groundbreaking event, several officials remarked that the day would be remembered as a milestone in the school's path toward becoming a university.

"Thank you for sharing the dream of Utah Valley University," Utah Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, told about 200 students, faculty and community members.

Layton Construction is building the Digital Learning Center, which will be east of the Liberal Arts Building. That area of campus is expected to become a new hub for students.

Utah County residents will also benefit from the library, Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert said.

"Utah Valley State College really has become (Utah Valley's) institution," he said.

Herbert, a former Utah County commissioner, said Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. supports UVSC's aim to become a university.

But Rep. Jeff Alexander, R-Provo, said it will take more than the influence of leaders on Capitol Hill for the school to move beyond the level of a state college.

"If you meet someone outside this valley, talk about this school ... so we can (reach) university status faster than some people would like us to have it," he said.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities last year criticized the school's current library — the Losee Learning Center — for being too small for the 24,000-student campus.

Higher education consultants hired by UVSC to study what the college needs to do to be considered for university status said a new library is necessary for faculty and graduate-level research. University status for Utah's public colleges hinges on the ability to offer graduate degrees.

Comment on this story

UVSC President Bill Sederburg hopes the school will be offering a master's degree in teacher education by 2009. The library will be finished by fall 2008.

"This building is one of the eight points the commissioner identified for us as we move forward toward university status," Sederburg said, referring to a Sept. 12, 2005, letter from Utah System of Higher Education Commissioner Richard Kendell about improvements necessary for university status.

The Legislature has provided $46.25 million for the library. The remaining $3.5 million must be raised by the school, which is beginning fund-raising efforts.

Nadine Gillmor, a board member of the school's nonprofit foundation, pledged $500,000 at the ground-breaking ceremony. Another unnamed member of the foundation pledged $50,000.

E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com