UVU, community partners to celebrate Cole Nellesen Building grand opening on May 3

University Marketing & Communications: Layton Shumway | 801-863-6863 | LShumway@uvu.edu


Utah Valley University will hold a ribbon cutting and grand opening for the new Cole Nellesen Building, which will house the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism, on Wednesday, May 3 at 12:45 p.m.

The building will raise autism awareness and support autism education in the state of Utah and is made possible by many generous community donors partnering with UVU. Keith and Melisa Nellesen donated the initial gift for the center and named the building in honor of their son, Cole, who has autism spectrum disorder. Brent and Kathryn Wood also made a major gift to make this project possible.

“This building is in direct response to the urgent need in our community for increased autism resources and care,” said UVU President Matthew S. Holland. “The challenges autism presents are complex, and we intend to become a leader in helping families, individuals, educators, employers, and a host of others in dealing with those challenges.”

The 15,000-square-foot Cole Nellesen building is located west of the McKay Education Building on the University’s Orem Campus. Key features include UVU classrooms, therapy rooms, quiet spaces, sensory rooms, an observation room, two playgrounds, and a sensory garden with aromatic plants, musical chimes and drums, and water features.

The building also features offices, a conference room, and testing and study rooms for students. UVU’s Passages program, which provides a specially designed higher education experience for adults with higher-functioning autism, will also use the building.

“This is a fantastic example of what can happen when a community comes together,” said Teresa Cardon, director of the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism. “I am excited to be a part of this amazing community, and I know that we are going to make a significant difference together as we work to support individuals with autism spectrum disorder.”

UVU raised $8.4 million in private donations to fund the center. In addition to the Nellesens and Woods, other major donors include: Henry Burton Family; the Hurst Wood Education Foundation; Vivint Gives Back Foundation; Vivint Smart Home CEO Todd Pedersen and his wife, Andrea; doTERRA; Casey and Chelsea Baugh; Utah Community Credit Union; the Sorenson Legacy Foundation; William and Lisa Hopkins; the Kahlert Foundation; and many other generous donors.

UVU currently offers Utah’s only minor in autism studies, which requires a series of six classes that focus on autism across the lifespan and best practice treatment methodology, as well as more than 200 hours of training with experienced professionals currently working with those living with ASD.

The School of Education will use two demonstration classrooms in the new facility to model effective instructional and support strategies for school professionals. This includes one classroom for pre-K children and one for children in grades 1–3.

Fourth region (Section 1)