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In the race for public funding, new college buildings for research and classroom space did well at the Legislature this year.

Among the winners was a new science complex at the University of Utah that received $34 million in public money. Construction is already underway on the Crocker Science Center, which will feature a four-story atrium and glass-walled laboratories.

At the Legislature, "a significant effort to address capital needs" was the "highlight of the session," higher education commissioner David Buhler said in a prepared statement.

The U.'s Huntsman Cancer Institute won $9.5 million for new laboratory and research space.

Lawmakers also set aside nearly $20 million for a Snow College science building and $10 million to centralize Utah State University's college of education and human services on campus.

And legislators this year more than quadrupled the bonus money available to reward colleges for better graduation performance — a focus of Gov. Gary Herbert. To earn a share of the $9 million, colleges will need to turn out more graduates with in-demand degrees, increase enrollment of "underserved" students and bolster "institutional efficiency."

For the state's two research universities, bonus standards would also include the quality and frequency of research studies.

The Board of Regents, which is the public colleges' central governing board, is set to hammer out specific benchmarks before summer.