Spencer F. Eccles likes to give. On April 20, it was his turn to receive.
The Salt Lake City chapter of the BYU Management Society presented Mr. Eccles, a noted philanthropist, with its 2010 Distinguished Utahn Award during a program at the Little America Hotel.
Several General Authorities attended the event with their wives, including: President Thomas S. Monson; Elder L. Tom Perry, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve; Bishop H. David Burton and Bishop Keith B. McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric; Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elder Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy and president of BYU.
David G. Johnson, president of the BYU Management Society's Salt Lake City chapter, lauded Mr. Eccles as a pillar of Utah society.
"Spencer Eccles is a voice for the community that has been there to stand up for what is important," Brother Johnson said in a telephone interview. "No matter what he does, he takes it on full-throttle. … Once you have Mr. Eccles' backing, you have a fairly good recipe for success because he will stand for nothing less than excellence."
Few philanthropists in Utah reside within the same stratosphere of giving as Mr. Eccles. In the capacity of chairman and chief executive of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, he presides over an organization that has made more than $300 million in charitable grants since its inception in 1982.
"We believe that we have an opportunity and a privilege to be a part of improving the quality of life for everybody in the state of Utah," Mr. Eccles said during a telephone interview earlier that day. "That's very important to us, so we have continued to do that on a broad basis statewide."
Mr. Eccles embraces his association with the BYU Management Society because of its charitable focus on providing scholarship money for students to attend any college or university in Utah. In 2009, the society awarded more than $50,000 in scholarships to students entering college.
"Higher education is the key to the future for this state," he said. "It becomes more and more diverse as we grow on a global basis. It's going to be so important for our state to be successful. Higher education is the linchpin to our success.
"Every single need that business has — whether it's technical or professional or the management area — it is enhanced by higher education."
Mr. Eccles worked in the banking industry for more than 40 years. For the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, he served on the organizing committee's board of directors and management committee. He serves as treasurer of his alma mater, the University of Utah.
Past recipients of the Distinguished Utahn Award include Church leaders President Monson and President Gordon B. Hinckley; former Utah Governors Olene S. Walker and Michael O. Leavitt; and businessmen Larry H. Miller, Robert H. Garff and Jon M. Hunstman Sr.