This week's announcement by Dr. Chase N. Peterson, University of Utah president, that $15 million has been donated to the university from the estate of the late Emma Eccles Jones, the last of the children of the prominent Utah family of David and Ellen Stoddard Eccles, is welcome.
A stipulation of the gift is that the U. College of Business and Graduate School of Business will be named after David Eccles.Because of previous controversies over gifts to the university, Peterson was circumspect enough to carefully sound out the business faculty, staff and students - as well as community leaders and department heads at the U. Medical Center.
This is one of innumerable contributions and endowments to numerous institutions and causes made by the Eccles family over the years, including nearly $50 million to the U. alone. Donations from the Eccles family also made possible the construction of the conference center at Utah State University, which bears the Eccles name.
David Eccles, who came to Utah in 1863 as a 14-year-old boy in a penniless Scottish family of Mormon immigrants, eventually became the founder of 54 different companies in five Western states, earning a reputation as a shrewd, hard-working man who was also a public benefactor.
Deep gratitude is not only due the Eccles family for this important gift that will be immeasurably useful to the University of Utah, but congratulations to Peterson and members of the university community for responding to the gift with such grace and tact.
Every institution of higher learning could make good use of additional funding; there is never enough to meet all the needs. Generous gifts like the Eccles grant not only allow the U. to tackle those extra projects that lead to excellence in education, but in fact are gifts to all Utah taxpayers because the U. is a tax-supported university.
Since the U. College of Business already ranks in educational studies as among the top business schools in the nation, the gift will most certainly act as a catalyst for additional improvement and growth.