SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 9, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The University of Utah on Wednesday announced a gift of $110 million for its School of Medicine from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation.
“The gift will further accelerate the nationally recognized school’s ability to provide the highest quality medical education, advanced research, and patient care, dramatically increasing the school’s endowment and powering critical research,” according to a statement from the U of U. “It will also enable the construction of a state-of-the-art new home for the School of Medicine on the health sciences campus.”
The gift includes $40 million for endowment, which will enrich student scholarships, recruitment of top-flight faculty, and innovative medical education programs; $40 million for research, focused on cardiovascular science and heart disease; and $30 million for a new, state-of-the-art School of Medicine building. These resources will allow the School of Medicine to develop innovations in health care delivery, especially for rural and underserved populations, advances in teaching models and timelines, and, eventually, make future increases in the size of the medical school class possible, the University statement said.
President Emerita Ruth V. Watkins, Ph.D., and Interim President Michael Good, M.D., announced that the university would rename the school the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine at the University of Utah. The naming acknowledges not only this gift, but the “lifetime of leadership, vision, and advocacy of Mr. Eccles, chairman and CEO of the two foundations awarding the grant,” the news release said.
“Through leadership spanning more than five decades, the Eccles family has shaped the University of Utah with remarkable breadth and depth — especially within the health sciences,” Watkins said. “In particular, Spence has been a leading champion. He has passionately built upon his family’s legacy to advance the University of Utah School of Medicine into a top-tier integrated academic medical institution. Today, he and his family foundations make their boldest and most forward-looking investment for the health of all Utahns. For these reasons and more, we are honored to have the School of Medicine bear his name.”
“This gift sets the course for the future of the School of Medicine,” Good added. “Medical education has advanced significantly in recent decades as new discoveries and technologies emerge. At the same time, the state of Utah is experiencing a need for more physicians, particularly in rural areas. This gift presents a unique opportunity: we will provide the most advanced education to raise new generations of health care professionals who will, in turn, improve health for our state and region. Our newly named school will join the ranks of the nation’s preeminent named institutions. We will not just adapt to the future of medicine –we will define it.”
The timing of the gift also holds special meaning for the School of Medicine and Eccles. Fifty years ago, a building named for his father opened its doors, according to U statement. The Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library was the first significant capital project at the university to be funded by the Eccles family. The Eccles family and associated charitable foundations have also supported the School of Medicine and health sciences in areas spanning cardiovascular and genetics research, nursing, ophthalmology, orthopedics, pharmacology, critical care, and more.
“I have long believed that no state or region can become truly great without a world-class medical center at its nucleus,” Eccles said. “We hope this seminal grant — the largest ever awarded by our foundations– will help ensure the university not only provides the highest quality medical education for the doctors who serve Utah and the entire Intermountain West, but also furthers the excellence of health care for all our citizens and impacts the future of medicine through its groundbreaking research.”
Mr. Eccles added: “Since ‘Giving 110%’ has been a legacy theme during my leadership of First Security Bank, this $110 million grant takes on special meaning for all of us. It’s an investment in the future of our fellow citizens — particularly in the medical students today and those to follow — who will have opportunities to practice medicine in innovative ways never before imagined, committing themselves ‘110%’ to improving and saving lives!”
University of Utah Health is the only academic medical center in the Intermountain West. It provides patient care for nearly 10 percent of the geographic area of the continental United States, the U statement said.