October 18, 2007 – The David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah announced today a $3 million gift from the Ken Garff Automotive Group, long supporters of the University of Utah and local community. The gift will provide funds to remodel the Kendall D. Garff Building in the David Eccles School building complex. Built in 1964, the building currently houses faculty offices and department suites. The $3 million remodeling project includes updating existing office space to incorporate a state-of-the-art learning environment and technology improvements, and renaming the facility the Ken Garff Building to represent the family’s successful enterprise.
Jack Brittain, dean of the David Eccles School of Business believes the gift will have a lasting impact on the School. “The David Eccles School is among the best business schools in the world, and upgrading the facility is critical to sustaining the School’s ranking,” said dean Brittain. “The Garff gift will enable us to dramatically improve student study spaces, student advising offices, and to provide offices to all faculty to improve students’ opportunities to meet with our faculty outside of class.” The Garff family has supported the School for over four decades, starting with the first donation from Kendall Garff to establish a faculty chair. “We are grateful for the long-term commitment the Garff family has made to supporting the David Eccles School of Business, including their commitment as founding donors to the Center for the Study of Values and Business Ethics at the University,” said dean Brittain. “They are business people who not only are role models, but who are making the commitment to ensuring students at the University of Utah are getting a world class education in preparation to become Utah’s next generation of business leaders.”
Robert Garff, president of Garff Enterprises, said the gift will provide funds to improve the Ken Garff Building, while re-establishing his father’s commitment to the community and education. “My father instilled in us all a deep commitment to education. We are indebted to my father for that love and feel this contribution to the University of Utah School of Business is a fitting tribute to my father and our combined love for him and for education,” said Garff.
In addition to the multi-million dollar gift, Garff Enterprises donated a year lease for a Saab 9.3 to Lynsie Ogden, a freshman in the Modern Dance program. “The car is so cool,” said Ogden. “I love the school and I love dance.” The red Saab, sporting the “U” logo, the Ken Garff logo, the Saab logo, and other unique artistic details, made its way around campus during the past eight weeks to promote a campus-wide competition open to all University of Utah students, staff and faculty. In order to enter into the contest, participants had to read the Daily Utah Chronicle, the University of Utah newspaper, to find the weekly clues and then text the hidden code to Spring Communications, another sponsor of the lease giveaway.
Ten semi-finalists were randomly selected and had to come to the David Eccles School Plaza during the gift announcement to see if their key unlocked the Saab. Adding another twist to the day, one lucky runner-up won a $2,500 scholarship, courtesy of the University of Utah Business Alumni Association. Film Studies major, Jeffrey Whitlock, was the winner of the generous scholarship and said it couldn’t have come at a better time. “This is so needed,” he said.
The Garff family has been connected to the University of Utah for over 75 years. The late Kendall Garff attended the University of Utah and graduated with a BA in Social and Behavioral Science in 1932. Also to his credit, Ken received the School of Business Achievement Award in 1979, the Emeritus Award in 1972, the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1979, and an Honorary Doctor of Law degree in 1989. Robert Garff, current president of Garff Enterprises and Kendall’s son, attended the David Eccles School of Business. He graduated with a BS in 1966 and an MBA in 1967. Garff and his wife, Katharine have five children and 18 grandchildren. All their children are graduates of the University of Utah and involved in the family business. The Ken Garff family sports 21 degrees from the University of Utah.
Garff Enterprises was started in 1932 by Kendall Garff, when he opened his first car dealership. Today, the Garff businesses are comprised of the Ken Garff Automotive Group with over 49 locations in the state of Utah from St. George to Ogden; 9 dealership locations in 6 additional states; Vehix.com; and the Utah Blaze, Utah’s only professional arena football team. With the legacy Ken Garff left to his children and employees, Garff Enterprises and the Garff family have donated millions of dollars to schools, charities and community organizations throughout Utah.