A $10 million donation to the College of Natural Resources over the next two decades will help secure the future of the college, Utah State University President Stan Albrecht announced Monday.

The announcement comes at a time when the university is rethinking budget strategies as it deals with continued cuts in state funding.

The S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation, based in Salt Lake City, announced it would give $10 million to the college in four five-year installments, Albrecht said in an interview with The Herald Journal.

The foundation - whose namesakes are alums of USU - have provided approximately $25 million for the college over the course of several years , according to the president.

It is one of the latest gifts to be secured under the "Honoring Tradition, Securing Our Future, The Campaign for Utah State University," Albrecht said.

"They (the foundation) wanted to make a commitment that would allow us to secure the future of the college," Albrecht said in the interview. "In what has been a very difficult economy, they really went to the max. That will allow us to set aside conversations about the college continuing. The College of Natural Resources will continue to be a part of the stable colleges at Utah State University."

Albrecht said the administration, as well as the college's dean and faculty will strategize on how that money will be used over the next year.

During the summer, USU's Budget Reduction Committee recommended, "moving departments, maybe downsizing and creating a ‘School of Natural Resources,'" Albrecht told Faculty Senate members at their regular meeting.

He acknowledged that the budget scenarios for the college had brought considerable controversy from faculty and staff.

The College of Natural Resources was the only college the committee recommended a review, but Albrecht stated that colleges are constantly evaluated during budget discussions.

USU was handed a $4 million budget cut for the 2011-12 school year by the state Legislature, bringing the total cuts in the past three years to $24.2 million in on-going cuts and $9.9 million one-time cuts.

CNR is the school's smallest college. It offers nine undergraduate degrees - one of which is split between two departments - and 13 graduate programs across CNR's three departments, according to Michael Butkus, an academic adviser for CNR.

The college typically has 480 students enrolled a year, he said.

CNR's degree enrollments across all programs have "gone up and down," over the years, Butkus said. The forestry major used to be the college's most popular. CNR has also added some new programs.

Over the last 20 years, the college has gone through several reorganizations of departments and names of departments, Butkus said.

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