As anyone who knows me realizes, my heart swells with pride when I see the "U" flashing on the hill. It signifies victory for the University of Utah my alma mater, whose ties to my family span generations. Those ties are long...and they are deep.

The University of Utah has been part and parcel of the Eccles family since before I was born, and it will be long after I’m gone. The U played a part in the lives of my parents, aunts, and uncles. Today, our family’s involvement continues through my wife, Cleone, and myself, my sister and her husband, our children, and our cousins. The University of Utah is a link to our past and our future...a tie that binds our generations together.

But our family isn’t unique. It’s like so many of yours for whom the University of Utah holds a special place. I’ve seen you firsthand through the years. You are there with thousands of others cheering loudly at football and basketball games. You’re the one telling your niece what a great school the U is. You’re the one proudly celebrating yet another research breakthrough. You’re the one in the neighborhood flying the U flag on game days. You’re the one serving on the Alumni Association Board or the President’s Club Committee. You’re the one sending in gifts to the Annual Fund Drive each year, sharing your financial resources as generously as you’re able.

And you’re the one I thought of when the opportunity arose for me to play a part in The Sesquicentennial Campaign, Generations of Excellence, a project of enormous and lasting importance to our alma mater. I accepted the challenge of chairing this campaign with honor, enthusiasm, and a 110% drive to succeed, because I know that you and thousands of supportive alumni and friends like you are on board with me.

The goals of our campaign are ambitious indeed: to raise $500 million in private support by the university’s 150th birthday on its sesquicentennial on February 28, 2000. It’s a lofty goal, but it’s one we can attain. With your participation, along with our fellow alumni and friends nationwide and worldwide, we will succeed. Already, we are more than half-way to the goal, with $253 million in gifts and pledges.

Your gift and every single gift of every size and your participation are critically important to the campaign’s success and to the future of the U. Any one large gift, no matter how magnificent, supports only one area of the university, while our goals and needs are campus-wide.

But our campaign is about more than dollars alone. This effort is also about participation. It’s about galvanizing our enthusiasm and our shared sense of purpose as much as our financial resources. Our success will ultimately depend on each and every one of us and many thousands more like us.

Our campaign is also about what the dollars and your involvement and support really do for the University of Utah. Your support encourages students, strengthens teaching, enhances scholarships, stimulates discovery, builds needed facilities, promotes learning at the highest levels, and serves our society.

While I’m the first one cheering when we score a winning touchdown, it’s not only those victories that come to mind when I see those lights flashing on the hill. Victories of so many kinds take place on the university campus every day.

It’s a victory when...

  • a graduate student finally sees her dissertation in print.
  • a freshman gets an "A" on his first mid-term.
  • a young woman sees the tears of joy in her parents’ eyes as she proudly receives the diploma she worked so hard to earn.
  • Van Horn makes the slam dunk or Maafala scores a winning touchdown.
  • an underprivileged student wins a scholarship to attend the U...the first in his family to have such an opportunity.

These are the kinds of victories that give us all reason to take pride in the flashing U on the hill above the Salt Lake Valley. They represent the reasons for The Sesquicentennial Campaign.

A great deal of work lies ahead of us. But it’s a mark of our vitality, enthusiasm, and loyalty that we embark on such an important endeavor. The Sesquicentennial Campaign will permanently enrich our university and our community. Through this campaign we will create new opportunities and excellence at the University of Utah as never before.

It can’t be done by any one of us alone. But it can be done by all of us together!

Spencer F. Eccles BS ‘56, chairman and CEO of First Security Corporation, is chairman of the University of Utah’s campus wide fund-raising effort, The Sesquicentennial Campaign of Generations of Excellence.