Artist rendering depicts the way the David Eccles School of Business at the U. will look after its $30 million renovation project.

Taylor Randall's grandfather was among those who oversaw a major transformation of the University of Utah David Eccles Business School during the 1960s.

Today, as a third-generation instructor at the school, Randall is excited about a new vision for the school, a $30 million renovation to be funded by private donations.

"A building means a lot. It helps us attract and retain faculty and students," Randall said Friday. "Now we have faculty and students like I don't think we've seen before. It's one of those unique opportunities."

The George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation announced a potential $12 million kick-off to the project at a news conference Friday, its largest such grant ever. The foundation has donated $3 million to the project and has pledged $3 million challenge grants for each of the next three years, including this year. The business school must raise $6 million each year to receive the match.

"I know we will be able to meet that goal," U. President Michael Young said. "That is a thrilling realization."

Young said the business school is unique in its partnerships with other schools, such as engineering.

"It's time to move to the next level," Young said Friday, calling the business school the "absolute epicenter" of the university's capacity to make the world a better place.

Dean Jack Brittain described the business school as a "BCS Bowl School," saying its consistent placement in the top 50 business schools places it in the top 2 1/2 percent of all business schools.

"This is a school that for a long time has done education very well," he said. "The community support, and alumni, really does distinguish this school."

Brittain said the school's three original buildings were built during the 1960s, when there were 600 business majors. Today, there are nearly 4,000 students.

"We're crowded," Brittain said. "We really need to upgrade our classrooms. . . . We are only able to admit about two-thirds of applicants and would like to serve more."

The school's C. Roland Christensen Center, added in 2000, has led the way for the modernization of the business campus. The new design calls for technology upgrades and better use of classroom and office space to allow students to be fully engaged with faculty on a daily basis. It is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks.

Spencer F. Eccles, president of the Eccles Foundation and a member of the school's National Advisory Council, said he hoped the challenge grant would encourage donors to "stretch a little."

He said he was mindful of his aunt Emma, who wanted to invest in business education in honor of her father's legacy.

"This exciting new business campus, combined with our first-rate facility, will offer U. students the right tools to succeed in today's business world," he said. "But it's going to take the involvement and support of our alumni and the business community, as well as the school's faculty, students, and staff, for this campaign to succeed."


E-mail: [email protected]