Thanks to a generous gift from the Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Family Foundation, the University of Utah Alumni Association is well on its way to realizing a much-anticipated transformation of its 36-year-old Alumni House into a more spacious, multi-functional facility. The renovation will nearly double the size of the building and triple its current capacity to serve the University community and its alumni.
The redesigned facility will be named to honor the life and memory of Cleone Peterson Eccles, who was an active U alumna, benefactor, and volunteer leader. Cleone, who lost her battle with cancer in 2013, was a former vice president of the Alumni Association and a 10-year member of the University’s Board of Trustees. She also served her alma mater for many years through her service on the boards of KUED, the College of Nursing, and Red Butte Garden.
“Beginning with our U student days, when Cleone and I first met, our family’s affection for our alma mater and our interest in its progress and success has never wavered,” says Spencer F. Eccles, who received a bachelor’s degree from the U in 1956. “The Alumni Association has been at the heart of our involvement in many ways.” Today, the Eccles family tradition of active service at the U is carried on by their four children, all alumni, including Hope Eccles, Lisa Eccles, Katie Eccles Burnett, and Spencer Peterson Eccles.
In the l970s, Spence led the successful campaign to raise funds for the current alumni house, which has served the University well for more than 35 years. “This gift brings the ongoing, generous involvement of the Spence and Cleone Eccles family ‘full circle’ with our Alumni Association and will continue to benefit our wider University community and alumni throughout the world,” says John Ashton, executive director of the Alumni Association.
With an additional 17,000 square feet, the transformed alumni headquarters—already a popular gathering place in the heart of campus—will showcase enhanced programs and activities for alumni, students, faculty, The Muss, other campus organizations, and the wider community. “Our family is enthusiastic about the opportunities this offers the association’s staff and volunteers to engage today’s students and alumni worldwide in innovative new ways,” says Katie Eccles Burnett, former Young Alumni Board president. “The lifelong love and loyalty to the University among our alumni, continually strengthened by the Alumni Association, keeps the heartbeat of our alma mater strong and vibrant for the future.
To date, the Alumni Association has raised more than $8.1 million toward the fundraising goal of $10 million, which includes the lead gift of $4 million from the Eccles family. Now in the public phase of the campaign, the association extends its sincere thanks to the Eccles family and additional generous donors who have committed early gifts to the project, including the O.C. Tanner Charitable Trust, Kem and Carolyn Gardner, the Zeke and Kay Dumke family, the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, Jeff and Helen Cardon, among others.
Construction will begin this summer and the building will reopen in time for fall 2017 Homecoming activities. “We are deeply grate-ful to the Eccles family for this generous commitment to the University, its students, and alumni,” says Michele Mattsson, chair of the U’s Board of Trustees and the Alumni House Transformation Committee. “We are so pleased to pay tribute to Cleone’s legacy of service and generosity in this way. Spence and Cleone’s leadership helped make the original Alumni House a reality. Now, three decades later, their family is once again leading the way.”