Orville Gunther says that when a person gives, it should be anonymously, so it took some persuasion for him to allow a ceremony, which honored his large donation to Utah Valley Community College, to take place.
Gunther's donation is by far the largest ever received by the college. It was at least $500,000, but, following Gunther's wishes, college officials won't say exactly how much.For his donation, the trades building at the college was renamed the Gunther Trades Building.
At its August meeting, the UVCC Institutional Council tentatively decided that $500,000 would be the minimum for a building to be renamed. The Wilson Sorensen Student Center, named after a former college president of several decades, is the only exception and the only other building on campus to be named.
"The opportunity to name the trades building for the Gunther family brings much pride to me and this institution. The Gunther family has served the community in countless ways, and the naming of this building is simply a manifestation of their commitment," UVCC President Kerry Romesburg said.
Gunther, a Lehi native, was one of the original instructors at the college. In 1941, he was recruited to teach sheet metal courses in conjunction with the National Defense Training Program. His first class had 20 men from the Santaquin area.
"I treasure the fact that I was a small part of its (the college's) birth and infancy," Gunther said Friday during the ceremony.
After leaving the college in 1942, Gunther built up his father's business in American Fork. He was a member of the Legislature and chairman of the Utah Tax Commission. He is president and chief executive officer of the Bank of American Fork. He has been a member of the UVCC Foundation board. Gunther also served as president of the German Mission and the Provo Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Gunther said part of the reason for the donation was a certain sense of shame and regret that he left the college.
Other reasons included remembering his father, who was killed in a trade-related accident, and a desire to emphasize trades.
He cited an article that says Utahns are highly educated but lacking in skills because of poor training in trade-related fields.
The donation will be placed in an endowment, Romesburg said. Fifteen percent of the earnings from the endowment will go back into it. The balance will be used for financial aid to students in trade areas. If a need arises for funds in other trade-related areas, those uses must be approved by a four-member board that consists of the college president and three family members.
Bill Anderson, UVCC Foundation president, said the donation is sufficient to provide education for "thousands of young men and women."