The University of Utah has received the largest single donation from an individual in the school's history. Again.
U. President Chase N. Peterson was expected to announce Monday that $15 million has been donated from the estate of the late Emma Eccles Jones, a philanthropist and educator and the last of the children of the prominent Utah family of David and Ellen Stoddard Eccles.A contract stipulating the terms of the donation states that the U. College of Business and Graduate School of Business will be named after David Eccles.
Mrs. Jones, who died March 29, 1991, in her home in Piedmont, Calif., was the aunt of Spencer F. Eccles, chairman and chief executive officer of First Security Corp., whose $3.4 billion in assets make it the largest financial institution in the Mountain West.
The terms of the her agreement with the U. was to be presented to the U. Institutional Council Monday. It still must be ratified by the state Board of Regents.
In 1989, businessman James L. Sorenson donated 250,000 shares of Abbott Industries stock - then worth approximately $15 million - to the U. on the condition that the U. Medical Center and School of Medicine bear Sorenson's name. At that time it was the largest single gift ever received by the U.
The new name, agreed upon in a contract negotiated over six years by Sorenson and Peterson, were ratified by the U. Institutional Council in June 1989.
However, unlike the renaming of the College of Business, the contract ignited strong opposition from students, legislators, physicians and other philanthropists.
When it became clear that the U. couldn't live up to its agreement with Sorenson, Peterson said he suggested 25 other ways the money could be used and Sorenson honored. But each idea, including the establishment of a J.L. Sorenson Institute for Medical Research, was rejected.
On Sept. 1, 1989, Sorenson asked for his gift back, causing terrible embarrassment for the U.
To avoid a rerun of the Sorenson fiasco, Peterson discussed the renaming with faculty, staff and students in the business school - as well as community leaders and department heads at the U. Medical Center.
However, he asked that any formal announcement of the donation by the press be withheld until the renaming was approved by the school's institutional council. He said a premature announcement would squelch the deal.
When meeting with medical school chairmen recently, Peterson asked if they would like to reopen negotiations with Sorenson in light of the Eccles gift. He said the stock Sorenson gave the U. was now worth $24 million.
The reaction of the physicians was not positive, according to people who attended the meeting.
The Eccles family has made innumerable contributions and endowments to numerous institutions and causes, including nearly $50 million to the U. alone. The conference center at Utah State University is named the Eccles Conference Center because donations from the family made its construction possible.
Mrs. Jones, who carried out her parent's philanthropic philosophy throughout her life, was the sister of Marriner S., Spencer S., George S. and Willard L. Eccles. They preceded her in death, as did her sisters, Marie Eccles Caine, Jessie Eccles Quiney, Nora Eccles Treadwell Harrison and Ellen Eccles Merrill Harrison.