April 18, 2005 — University of Utah President Michael K. Young last night announced a personal gift of $7 million from U alumni Spencer and Cleone Eccles. This gift, committed confidentially last summer, provides major funding for the new, state-of-the-art Health Sciences Education Building for the U’s nationally ranked medical, nursing, pharmacy, and health training programs. The gift was announced by Young at a dinner capping off a week-long celebration on his inauguration as the 14th president of the University of Utah.
The Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Health Sciences Education Building, to be completed in August, is a five-story, 158,000 square foot facility that will provide much needed classrooms, labs, and training facilities. The design incorporates multi-purpose space that will serve the needs of all students, regardless of specialty, with major emphasis on promoting interdisciplinary learning among future health-care professionals.
“The generosity of Spence and Cleone Eccles to Utah, and especially to their alma mater, is truly remarkable,” said President Young. “Coupled with their personal involvement and commitment to the University, it makes an even greater impact on our capacity for excellence.”
He added, “On a personal note, I am honored to announce this exciting gift in conjunction with my Inauguration. This magnificent gift ensures that Utah’s next generation of health-care providers will receive an excellent education at one of the country’s leading universities.”
A skybridge will connect the new building with the adjacent Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, named for Eccles’ father in 1965. The library was constructed with a generous bequest from the senior Eccles, and his wife, Hope Fox Eccles, and represents the first major gift from the Eccles family to the University of Utah.
According to Eccles, “Its been heartening over the past 40 years, since dad’s gift to the library, to see the excellence that the Health Sciences Center has achieved. We feel it truly has had a significant impact throughout our state. Now, Cleone and I are delighted to participate, with the great faculty and students, as the Health Sciences Center continues to provide an outstanding education to our health care providers .
“The new Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Health Sciences Education Building will be the centerpiece of the academic programs at the Health Sciences Center,” said A. Lorris Betz., M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for Health Sciences and executive dean of the U’s School of Medicine. “The skybridge which connects this new facility and the library will not only benefit our university, but is also symbolic of the continuum of support we have received from Spence and Cleone and their family.
According to Associate Vice President for Health Sciences Linda K. Amos, “This building replaces teaching facilities dating to the 1950’s and the students are anxiously awaiting its completion. It will encourage collaboration among students and faculty with greater access to the resources of the library, classrooms, and teaching labs, which is essential to their world class training.”
The $40 million building is being funded through a major state appropriation in addition to the $7 million gift from the Eccles. Other private donations from faculty, staff, friends, and alumni have also been earmarked for specialized areas within the facility. The official opening for the building is planned for August 31.
The building features 40 classrooms with a variety of electronic features including wireless internet access and distance learning capabilities. In addition, the facility will house multiple laboratory training areas and exam rooms where Utah’s future physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, therapists and other health professionals can be observed and critiqued by faculty members.
Also housed in the new facility will be the University’s dental program and informatics program (a joint program of the School of Medicine and the College of Nursing). In addition, the facility will feature a 100-seat café, a bookstore, and underground parking.
More information about the building, including a virtual tour, can be found at http://uuhsc.utah.edu/virtualtour/hseb/hsebatrium.html.