President Benson Secures Major Gift For New Science Center

Published: February 01, 2007 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Dr. Michael T. Benson, incoming President of Southern Utah University, has wasted no time in securing a major gift from a former SUU student that will kick off the most aggressive capital campaign in the University’s history.

The $3-million gift from an alumnus of the institution—when it was called Branch Agricultural College, in fact—will go toward the construction of a new science building and the establishment of the a new, state-of-the-art Science Center complex. A native of Cedar City, the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being, practically grew up on the campus. "This man’s story is one of the most remarkable stories of success to ever come out of southern Utah," states President Benson. "Their family home was literally in the shadow of the campus. The children were a product of the Cedar school system and the BAC, and this distinguished individual, who is a leader in his chosen field, is truly one of SUU's most eminent alumni. This is one of Cedar's very own and it is only fitting that he be tied to our campus forever in such a generous way," Benson declares.

The donor submits: "My family and I are very pleased to make this commitment to my alma mater, given our long and deep ties to Cedar and to the campus. We're also very excited about the future of SUU and its outstanding science programs."

The proposed 50,000-square foot new building will adjoin the existing Science building. "This is a great day for Southern Utah University and a truly significant day for the donor family," Benson adds. “It also marks the lead gift in the University's most ambitious capital campaign ever. We're on our way!"

With this announcement, Benson and other SUU administrators are hopeful this year's legislature will take note of this donation to the project and subsequently rank it higher on its list of priority facilities for next year. Immediate-Past-President of SUU, Dr. Steve Bennion, and other University officials successfully secured state funding of the Emma Eccles Jones Education Building, currently under construction just west of Old Main. It is rare for campuses to receive funding in consecutive years for such projects, so Benson and his colleagues are doing the spade work for 2008 to help ensure success for the Science Center.

"According to the Regents' qualification and prioritization process,” former SUU Interim President Greg Stauffer explains, “this private funding puts this project right near the top of the list of all projects currently put forth by all other institutions.” He continues, "We're saying to the legislature this session--'Thank you very much for your support of the teacher education building and please allow us to tell you about what we're doing to push our next vital project ahead.'” Stauffer concludes, “This gift puts us right where we need to be for next session."

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