U. Engineering school gets $50 million and a new name

The John and Marcia Price College of Engineering receives new buildings and grants.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) University of Utah President Taylor Randall, left, helps unveil a new name for the University of Utah’s College of Engineering after receiving a $50 million gift from was announced to philanthropists and benefactors John and Marcia Price as fuel grants and new construction at a ceremony on Tuesday 01/10/2023.

This story is part of The Salt Lake Tribune’s ongoing commitment to finding solutions to Utah’s biggest challenges through the work of the Innovation Lab.

Utah philanthropists John and Marcia Price on Tuesday put the University of Utah’s College of Engineering in the driver’s seat with a $50 million donation that will enable scholarships and a new building.

The Utah businessman and his wife previously raised $15 million from the Price Family Foundation to construct a new building for their nationally recognized computer science school. This later became the largest donation the engineering school has ever received, and one of the largest ever on the U. campus.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon at the United States’ Warnock Engineering Building during a ceremony attended by Gov. Spencer Cox, US President Taylor Randall and Utah Legislative leaders.

“The University of Utah has an international reputation for innovation in engineering and computer science. Marcia and I want to help ensure this opportunity for current and future generations,” said John Price.

“This will mark another turning point in the rise of the college and the growth of Utah’s technology sector,” said Richard Brown, dean of U. Engineering.

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Randall said the gift means the U. joins the “elite” group of schools that have designated Colleges of Engineering.

“We need more engineers. We desperately need more engineers,” said Cox, who described it as a “red day” for Utah.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, John Price, University of Utah President Taylor Randall and Speaker of the Utah House Brad Wilson, from left, gather at a Photo before the award announces a $50 million gift to the College of Engineering family for scholarships and a new building during a ceremony on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

John Price was born in Spandau, Germany, in 1933 to a Jewish family. In 1939, John Price and his family fled Nazi rule and arrived in the United States in 1940. He eventually came to Utah and received his degree in geological engineering from the University of Utah in 1956.

Price got into the construction business and became a developer of shopping malls across the West. His company, JP Realty, was listed on the New York Stock Exchange before merging with another company.

“With hard work, perseverance and good timing, I have had a lasting, successful business career. I’ve really been living the American dream,” Price said. “…We hope the college students will remember the story of a little immigrant boy and remember that anything is possible in life.”

Price was a major fundraiser for George W. Bush during his first presidential bid in 2000, and Bush appointed him ambassador to Mauritius, the Comoros and the Seychelles – islands off the southeast coast of Africa.

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His love of technology is evident in the more than 30 cars he has collected. Housed in the Price Museum of Speed ​​in Salt Lake City, the collection includes vintage race cars and the Mormon Meteor III, the Ab Jenkins-built car that set world speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

For the awards, the commitment to the university was deep and diverse, with donations across campus. The $50 million is the largest single gift the U. has received outside of donations to the health sciences campus.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) John and Marcia Price arrive at the University of Utah’s College of Engineering to accept their $50 million gift of scholarships and a new building during a ceremony Tuesday, January 10, 2023 to announce.

Marcia Price, who grew up in Salt Lake City and earned her degree in English from the U., has been a driving force at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts for decades. She is Chair of the Board of Directors for the museum, located on the U. campus in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building.

She is a past Chair of the Utah Arts Council and a past Trustee of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. She is Vice Chair of the Kennedy Center’s Corporate Fund Board.

The couple also donated $3.5 million to the US Department of Theater. The old law school building on University Avenue was renovated and renamed the John and Marcia Price Theater Arts Building, with an adjacent Price Family Amphitheater.

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Their son, J. Steven Price, CEO of Price Real Estate, sits on the US Board of Trustees.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) A display shows the new John & Marcia Price Computing & Engineering building to be constructed on the University of Utah campus after a $50 million gift from philanthropists and benefactors to John and Marcia Price, to sponsor scholarships and a new building at a ceremony on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

The engineering college has 5,244 undergraduate students, 665 master’s students and 717 doctoral students. Its 214 tenure-track faculty members bring in nearly $100 million in research funding annually.

U. Engineering faculty and graduates have founded several notable companies, especially in the field of computer software. These include Silicon Graphics, Netscape, WordPerfect, Novell, Atari, Adobe and Pixar.

Last fall, the U.’s School of Computing, which is part of the Engineering College, received a $15 million donation from the Kahlert Foundation and is now the Kahlert School of Computing.

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