SUU In View (Alumni Magazine - Spring 2003)
Generous citizens inducted into SUU Old Main Society
The circle of SUU's most generous and supportive friends has been enlarged with the induction of several new members into the Old Main Society, December 3, 2002 at the President's Club Holiday dinner. Just as "Old Main" symbolizes dedication to a vision and a dream for the university's founders, the Old Main Society is comprised of individuals who recognize and embody those same principles. Members of the Old Main Society provide that extra margin of excellence through their generosity that enables the university to meet the ever increasing challenges facing higher education in today's world. To qualify for membership in this most prestigious society of givers individuals or couples have made cumulative cash, in-kind, or deferred gifts of $25,000 or more to Southern Utah University.
W. Boyd and Jean C. Christensen have dedicated much of their lives to serving others and contributing to their state, community and church. Their warmth, kindness and sincere interest in and concern for helping others have been their hallmark in the 56 years that they have been married. Their four children, 18 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren are but a few of those who have experienced the boundless love and service that the Christensens have showered on others throughout their lives.
After a most successful career with All State Insurance, culminating in his service as President and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, Boyd served his government as Assistant Secretary in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. He then returned to Utah to serve his alma mater, Utah State University for six years as Vice President for Business and Finance.
Always community minded, Boyd has served as Executive Vice President and member of the Board of the Utah Symphony and as a member of several other prestigious boards, including serving on SUU's Board of Fellows. Jean has likewise served the various communities in which they have lived as an educator, community volunteer, advisory board member for the Festival of the American West and has received numerous community awards for her dedicated service.
In addition to their professional and community service, Boyd and Jean have served their church in numerous capacities including being responsible for visitor activities for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Boyd's calling, as President of the New York, New York mission, with Jean being "mission mom" for hundreds of missionaries. They currently reside in Salt Lake City where they continue to render service in a variety of community endeavors. They also show great interest in SUU. Boyd says, with enthusiasm, "I am very supportive of Southern Utah University and I want to help lift it just as high as is possible."
George Neil and Willadean Bryce McRae celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary recently. Born and raised in Arizona, the couple met and married while attending the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. While there Neil received a bachelors degree in agriculture and a masters degree in agronomy. Willadean earned a bachelors degree in home economics with a minor in business. The McRaes have six children, three boys and three girls. Three of their grandchildren currently attend Southern Utah University. They are Melissa McRae Hyde, Megan and Matthew McRae.
After graduating from college, Neil worked as an agronomist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Cotton Research Center-Phoenix, Arizona. Following a brief stint as a cotton farmer, Neil then worked as a vegetable specialist farm advisor in the Extension Service of the University of California in Indio, California beginning in 1965. They still reside in Indio today.
Willadean's great great grandfather was Ebenezer Bryce for whom Bryce Canyon National Park and Bryce, Arizona are named. The McRaes have been active members in their church and in their community in providing service to others. Willadean indicates that at the age of six her mother sat her on the piano bench and she has spent the greater part of her life being an accompanist, serving 17 years straight as ward organist. Both Neil and Willadean have served in significant local leadership positions in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are currently serving a temple mission as ordinance workers in the San Diego temple, commuting three hours each way.
The McRaes indicate with pride that their greatest success has been the rearing of their family. They are individuals who have made a difference in the lives of countless people. Southern Utah University is fortunate to have them as friends of the University.
Miles D. and Mary Taylor Morris are southern Utah natives. Miles was born in Parowan and grew up in Cedar City; Mary was born in Cedar City, moved to Park City and then returned to Cedar City. Both Miles and Mary attended schools in Cedar City and attended the BAC, now Southern Utah University. Mary later attended the University of Utah. After serving 2 years in the U.S. Army, Miles and his brother Haymer and their father, Durham Morris established Cedar Motor Company selling Kaiser, Frazer and Packard automobiles. In 1954 Miles established Tri-State Motors selling Oldsmobiles, Ramblers and Jeeps. In 1959, he sold the dealership to Haymer.
Miles and Mary then moved to Provo where he established Morris Motors with Oldsmobile, Rambler, Jeep and GMC truck franchises. He has operated this dealership for 43 years. The Morris's have 4 children, 18 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. All of their children and several of their grandchildren have worked in the family business. Mary served as office manager for Morris Motors for 35 years. Both Miles and Mary have been very active in civic, community and church service. Miles has served as two time President of the Utah Valley Exchange Club, President of the Utah County Automobile Dealers Association and President of the Utah Automobile Dealers Association. He is also a member of the Utah Valley State College Automotive Advisory Board, and has received awards for his distinguished community service. Mary presently serves on the Business School Advisory Board of UVSC and has served as President of the women auxiliary organizations of the local Jaycees and Utah Valley Exchange Club. She is an accomplished pianist and has served her church in a variety of service and leadership positions. Miles and Mary have been great examples of people who have made a significant contribution to their community, profession and higher education.
President Steven D. and Marjorie H. Bennion
Following in his grandfather Milton Bennion's footsteps, who served as the institution's first Principal in 1897, President Steven D. Bennion has served Southern Utah University as its President since 1997.
With his talented wife Marjorie at his side, Steve has served the institution, its students and the Southern Utah community with total dedication, boundless energy and a commitment to always take the "high road."
Hard work has always been a significant feature of Steve's life beginning early with his work as a teenager on a farm in Teton Valley, Idaho. He served as student body president at Olympus high school and was an outstanding three sport athlete. He later went to the University of Utah and then took time out to serve in the army and a mission to Scotland for his church. Marj lived with her family in Vernal, later moving to Salt Lake City where she met Steve. She attended and graduated from Utah State University and became a school teacher. The Bennions have been married for nearly 39 years and have been parents to five children and grandparents of 10 "nearly perfect" grandchildren. Marj and Steve moved to Ithaca, New York where Steve completed a Master's Degree in Public Administration at Cornell University, they then moved to Madison, Wisconsin where Steve served as a budget and academic planner with the University of Wisconsin System of Higher Education. It was there that he earned his Doctorate in Higher Education Administration.
After returning to Utah to serve as an Associate Commissioner for planning with the Utah System of Higher Education, Steve was soon selected to be President of Snow College. An invitation to serve as President of Ricks College, now BYU Idaho, was extended to President Bennion after seven years at Snow College and then on July 1, 1997 President and Mrs. Bennion moved to Cedar City to begin their service as President and First Lady of Southern Utah University.
Both Steve and Marj have given years of service as members of community and state boards, as frequent speakers to a variety of education, community and church groups and as role models for people of all ages. Ever affable, gracious and genteel, President and Mrs. Bennion have given generously of their time, talents and resources for the improvement of Southern Utah University and the Southern Utah community.