By Shawn Wood, communications specialist, University of Utah Communications
The University of Utah’s new Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House is opening its doors to welcome the community this week. A public open house will be held Friday, April 20, 2018, from 1-4 p.m. Located at the heart of the U campus, the newly renovated alumni house will serve as host to a wide variety of alumni, campus and community activities, meetings, conferences and private events. A private dedication and ribbon-cutting for the building will be held on April 18.
The newly expanded and renovated facility is named in honor and memory of Cleone Peterson Eccles (B.S. ’57), an active U alumna, benefactor and volunteer leader. Cleone Eccles, who passed away in 2013, was a former vice president of the Alumni Association, and a 10-year member of the U’s Board of Trustees. The naming also recognizes a generous $4 million gift for the project from the Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Family. As the “lead gift” in the fundraising campaign for the project, it enabled the U to transform the 36-year-old Alumni Association headquarters into a more spacious, multifunctional facility. Its exterior and interior have been designed to welcome the campus and community with finishes, furnishings and spaces that reflect its namesake’s gracious, warm personality.
“Beginning with our U student days when Cleone and I first met, our family’s affection for our alma mater and interest in its progress and success have never wavered,” said Spence Eccles. “And, the Alumni Association has been at the heart of our involvement in many ways.”
In the 1970s, Spencer F. “Spence” Eccles (B.S. ’56) led the successful campaign to raise funds for the university’s first alumni house on the campus, which served the university well for more nearly four decades.
“This gift brings the ongoing, generous involvement of the Spence and Cleone Eccles family ‘full circle’ with our Alumni Association, and it will continue to benefit our wider university community and alumni throughout the world,” said M. John Ashton, Alumni Association executive director.
With a nearly 40 percent increase in the student population since 1980, entry into the Pac-12 and the U’s growing national and international reputation, the Alumni House could no longer keep up with internal and external demands. The major expansion and renovations have added an additional 17,000 square feet to the alumni headquarters, more than doubling its size and tripling its current capacity to serve the university community and its alumni locally and worldwide.
The new facility features new technologies, large patios, modernized gathering spaces and two large kitchens to accommodate simultaneous dining events; the new ballroom alone can comfortably sit 400 for dinner. Large windows frame striking views of the city and mountains. The lower garden level offers a new meeting space for The MUSS.
Serving more than 270,000 alumni, the association now boasts 18 chapters across the country and 12 international clubs. The association, founded in 1886, provides ways for alumni to connect with one another, engage in fun and rewarding activities, foster education and advance their careers. The Alumni Association awards more than $800,000 in scholarships each year to deserving students.