One of the state's smallest colleges received one of the largest single donations ever given to a Utah college Monday.
Westminster College of Salt Lake City, the only independent, liberal arts college in Utah, with an enrollment of 2,100, was given $7 million by Vieve Gore, Newark, Del.Gore with her late husband, Bill, started W.L. Gore & Associates Inc., a multinational enterprise in the basement of their Delaware home in 1958. The company has provided hundreds of uses for polytetrafluoroethylene, commonly known as Teflon. One Gore application is GORE-TEX, the use of the chemical in textiles to offer protection from the elements.
Westminster President Charles Dick labeled the $7 million gift as the largest single donation in the school's 115-year history.
It's also one of the largest to any Utah school. The University of Utah received $5 million from industrialist Jon M. Huntsman for its special events center and $15 million from James L. Sorenson for the U. medical school, but Sorenson withdrew the gift after a controversy ensued over naming the school after him.
Gore said of the $7 million endowment, $4 million will be in unrestricted funds and $3 million will be dedicated to specific purposes, including $500,000 to the building fund, $1 million for teaching salary enhancements, $500,000 for music programs and $1 million for science programs.
Westminster's benefactress is no stranger to the college.
Over the years, particularly when the college struggled financially to keep its doors open during the late '70s and early '80s, the Gores generously donated, often anonymously, to the college, said the Westminster president.
The business building in which the $7 million gift was announced is named after the Gores.
When the college began a $25 million capital campaign to increase its endowment, Gore and her daughter, Ginger Giovale, Flagstaff, Ariz., who is chairwoman of the college's board of trustees, each pledged $1 million with the condition that the college raise an additional $1 million. Westminster met that challenge within four months, Dick reported.
In announcing her gift, Gore, who received a bouquet of roses and a kiss from the college president, was thanked by Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter and Salt Lake City Mayor Palmer DePaulis.
She said that when her husband died four years ago, she was deluged by charities and colleges seeking donations. She still receives about seven serious requests a week.
A son, David, suggested that instead of scattering her charitable donations among many beneficiaries that she "should chose one (beneficiary) that's important to me," she related.
She chose Westminster because of her family's close ties to the school. Bill Gore was a member of the Westminster Class of '33. His mother, Dora Clark Gore, was a Westminster alumna. Daughter Ginger Giovale is a member of the Class of '65 and her son, Danny, now attends the school.
"I never attended Westminster, but I went to a lot of parties and dances here," said Gore, who was a University of Utah student.
Giovale, accepting the donation in behalf of the board of trustees, called the gift of an endowment "the quiet way to give away money," because no building or other structure will be named after Vieve Gore. But an endowment is the most crucial kind of gift giving because without an endowment "we don't have the constant infusion of money that keeps the college going," she said.
"On behalf of the board of trustees, thank you very much, Mother," Giovale added.