The University of Utah dedicated the new David Eccles School of Business, Monday, a re-naming of the school in recognition of a $15 million gift from the pioneer business leader's daughter, Emma Eccles Jones.
Business Dean John Seybolt said the endowment will be used to support innovations in the school's graduate and undergraduate programs that were not possible before the funding.David Eccles was a poor Mormon immigrant from Scotland who worked in the lumber, construction and many other industries to become Utah's first self-made millionaire businessman. Emma Eccles Jones, who died last spring at age 93, was the last surviving child of David Eccles. The gift was announced shortly after her death.
"The business leaders of the next century must understand technology, work effectively in the global economy and know how to manage a diverse work force," said the dean. "The generous funding ... makes it possible for us to prepare our students to meet the challenges of the future."
Seybolt said the gift will provide for an extensive review and redesign of the school's curriculum; extend its global business program; develop a management communications program and lab; develop an executive bachelor of business administration program; and create new scholarships, fellowships, and faculty support programs.
At the dedication in the school's Francis Armstrong Building, Richard K. Davidson, chairman and chief executive of Union Pacific Railroad Co., based in Omaha, launched the Spencer Fox Eccles Convocation, a new speaking series in which top U.S. executives address students, faculty, staff and local leaders at the start of each school year.
The convocation is named for Spencer F. Eccles, current chairman of First Security Corp. and a grandson of David Eccles.
Davidson, who began his career as a train brakeman and conductor, told the packed auditorium in the Mark Greene Hall that David Eccles was a "man after my own heart" who understood the crucial role that railroading played in American business. He also understood that it was the rank and file employees, the "people in the trenches" who make or break a business, Davidson said.
Davidson said it is clear from his reading of Eccles' life and career that he was "a man most approachable, grasping the hand of the sons of toil as eagerly as that of a fellow millionaire," Davidson quoted from a biography of the late business leader by Leonard J. Arrington.
Davidson said Eccles epitomized the idea of free enterprise. At his death in 1912, he owned or had a stake in 50 different businesses.
"He was a pioneer industrialist who remained unpretentious throughout his life. Business leaders today could do well to emulate that behavior," Davidson told the gathering.
Following the dedication, invited guests attended a luncheon at which Edmund W. Littlefield, retired chairman and chief executive of Utah International Inc. was the keynote speaker.
Utah International was created when the late David Eccles financed the reorganization of a troubled construction company in 1900. In the 1950s, under Littlefield, the company became a multinational corporation and changed its name to Utah International Inc.
The company worked on construction of the Hoover Dam, Grand Coulee Dam and Oakland's Bay Bridge. It was acquired in 1976 by General Electric in what was then the largest merger in history.