$4 Million Gift from Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles family jump starts final phase of U Alumni House renovation campaign

Thanks to a $4 million 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 locally and worldwide.

When completed in fall 2017, the state-of-the-art facility will be named by the university in honor and memory of Cleone Peterson Eccles (B.A. ’57), an active U alumna, benefactor and volunteer leader. Mrs. Eccles, 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 actively for many years on the boards of KUED, the College of Nursing and Red Butte Garden.

Cleone Peterson Eccles

PHOTO CREDIT: Busath Photography

Cleone Peterson Eccles

“We are deeply grateful to the Eccles family for this generous commitment to the university, its students and alumni,” said Michele Mattsson, chair of the University of Utah Board of Trustees and the Alumni House Transformation Committee. “We are excited to pay tribute to Cleone’s legacy of service and generosity in this way. Spence and Cleone’s leadership helped make the current Alumni House a reality. In fact, as chairman of that fund drive, Spence even ran the construction backhoe at the ground breaking! Now, three decades later, their family is once again leading the way. They are true visionaries.”

Added U President David W. Pershing, “We greatly appreciate the far-reaching support of this amazing family, whose generosity to their alma mater extends throughout the U. Their support is enabling us to create the Alumni House of the future — one that will generate excitement and fulfill the needs of the university as a proud member of the Pac-12.”

The major expansion and renovation will add nearly 17,000 square feet to the alumni headquarters located in the heart of the campus. As a “nerve center” for on-campus student, faculty, staff and community activities and programs — ranging from those involving national and international alumni groups to the active MUSS student athletics booster organization — the building is used multiple times a day. To include new cutting-edge technology, amenities and expanded gathering spaces, the new facility will welcome a wide variety of alumni, campus and community activities, meetings, conferences and private events.

Noted Mattsson, “With this gift, we have now raised more than $8.1 million toward our $10 million goal, and we’re excited to reach out and involve our wider alumni constituency to help us cross the finish line of this campaign. We extend our 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 and others.”

In the l970s, Spencer F. Eccles (B.S. ’56) led the successful campaign to raise funds for the university’s current alumni house, which has served the university well for more than three decades.

“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.” said Alumni Association Executive Director M. John Ashton.

Said Spence Eccles, “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, have never wavered — and 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: C. Hope Eccles (J.D. ’86; B.A. ’83, Stanford), Lisa Eccles (B.A. ’86), Katie Eccles (Ex ’86; B.A. ’87 and J.D. ’90, Stanford), and Spencer Peterson Eccles (B.A. ’96; MBA ’98, BYU).

Added U Trustee and Executive Committee Member Lisa Eccles, “Our family is enthusiastic about helping create this spectacular new Alumni House. A strong and active alumni association is essential to the excellence of all Tier I universities such as ours. It is vital to the U’s success in meeting our growing demands as the ‘flagship’ of Utah’s higher education system.”

With an expected 15-month timeline, the expansion and renovation will begin during summer 2016 and reopen in time for fall 2017 Homecoming activities. The project architect is Salt Lake City-based firm EDA Architects, and Zwick Construction has been selected as general contractor. 


The Alumni Association is dedicated to forging and preserving lifelong relationships with alumni, students and the community. It oversees the activities and programs of more than 260,000 alumni worldwide, with 17 national chapters and 12 international clubs. The 22 Alumni Association staff members who are housed in the building are responsible for managing alumni relations and communications, career services, legislative advocacy, scholarship fundraising (more than $550,000 annually) and countless alumni events, including tailgates, homecoming activities and various reunions. More about the Alumni Center Transformation project is available online at alumni.utah.edu/transformation.


The University of Utah, located in Salt Lake City in the foothills of the Wasatch Range, is the flagship institution of higher learning in Utah. Founded in 1850, it annually serves more than 32,000 students from across the United States and the world. With more than 100 major subjects at the undergraduate level and more than 90 major fields of study at the graduate level, including business, medicine and law, the university prepares students to live and compete in the global workplace. Learn more about all the U has to offer, online at utah.edu.

Media Contacts

John Ashtonexecutive director, University of Utah Alumni Association
Office: 801-581-3055

Annalisa Purserassociate director, University Marketing & Communications
Office: 801-581-7295 Mobile: 435-232-0312

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