The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees approved the final design for the Science Initiative building during their meeting Thursday and will now move forward from the design phase into the bidding phase.

UW Trustees Treasurer John Mckinley presented the motion to the board, saying the Joint Appropriations Committee had unanimously approved the already appropriated funds for the building during their meeting on Wednesday.

Mckinley said after some modifications, the design is now under the construction budget.  He said the overall project budget for the Science Initiative building is $103 million and within that, the construction budget was $71 million. The project, he says, is now estimated to be under that budget. Last month, university officials informed the state Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee that the Science Initiative Building Design was over-budget by $18 million.

Mckinley said the costs were trimmed after the decision was made to shell out space, or to leave some areas of the building unfinished. Mckinley said during the meeting that this was an advantage.

“This is actually a benefit for this type of facility – you don’t know what space you will need next year or the year after for cutting-edge research, so it’s very beneficial to have that space so it can be developed as that research progresses,” Mckinley said.

The trustees approved the motion and the design will now move into the bidding phase where a contractor will be selected to construct the Science Initiative building.

The trustees also approved a motion to accept the Science Initiative building as their number one construction priority going into the legislative session. UW President Laurie Nichols said she had talked to Gov. Matt Mead, who had asked her to speak to the importance of the Science Initiative and specifically ask if it was still the number one priority of the university.

“I assured him the legislature was still our priority,” Nichols said.

Trustee Dave True said considering the university’s entire block grant was going before the legislature, he was uncomfortable making the Science Initiative the first priority.

“I would be much more comfortable if it would be the number one priority for capital funding, or another term, that doesn’t put our block grant in second place,” True said.

Mckinley suggested the trustees add language to clarify that the Science Initiative was the university’s number one priority for capital construction funding. The trustees approved the amended motion.

Construction of the Science Initiative Building is expected to start at the beginning of 2019.