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Scott Smith donates $25 million for UVU engineering building

By Harrison Epstein - | Oct 27, 2021

Courtesy Utah Valley University

Rendering of the incoming Scott M. Smith Engineering and Technology Building.

A new name will soon be found on Utah Valley University’s campus. It was announced Wednesday that Qualtrics co-founder Scott Smith and his wife, Karen Smith, are donating $25 million to the construction of a new building for the engineering program.

It will be named the Scott M. Smith Engineering and Technology Building — and the college will now officially be the Smith College of Engineering and Technology. The donation is also the largest in the history of the university, according to UVU spokesperson Scott Trotter.

“This is a transformational gift that will elevate obviously the college of engineering in so many ways,” said Mark Arstein, UVU vice president of institutional advancement. “The first step is the building, but it’s what’s going to happen inside that building. It’s going to create the space that’s necessary to fill the gap.”

According to the university, the building is meant to fill a gap in the state’s workforce, which has thousands of unfilled jobs for engineers and computer scientists. Arstein said that with this donation and the development of the engineering building, UVU will become a significant contributor to the companies within Silicon Slopes.

With over 5,000 students in the UVU engineering department, the expansion will provide much needed physical room to grow.

“Space is at a premium as hallways have been converted to student and faculty meeting places. The new building will solve the critical need for more lab and office space, classrooms, and conference rooms and will align technical infrastructure with existing and emerging technologies as the number of students grows,” read a press release from the university.

The building will be five stories tall and 180,000 square feet. UVU added that it will also seek support from the Utah Legislature in funding the building, which is expected to be finished by 2025. The building is estimated to be finished by 2025. Arstein sees this investment as both an incredibly generous gift from the Smiths and a signal to other donors about the future.

“It sends a message to the tech community and throughout the state of Utah that part of what this gift will do makes this building a reality. It’s going to happen and helps tell the story to other donors,” Arstein said. “We had a bright future before the announcement of this gift, now it’s even brighter.”

Scott Smith, along with his sons Ryan and Jared Smith, founded Qualtrics in 2002 and have stayed connected to the community since. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, master’s degree from Michigan State and Ph.D. from Penn State. He has been a professor for 30 years at BYU, according to Arstein.

“Karen and I are delighted to support UVU and its students in this way,” Scott Smith said in the UVU release. “Utah County is a special place for us. Our families settled Utah County in pioneer days, our children were raised here, and we started Qualtrics in our home in Provo. We want to give back in a way that will make an impact, honor my profession, and make Utah County a better place to live. We found the perfect match with UVU.”

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