For at least five years before Neela Pack came to the University of Utah as a freshman, students had been lobbying for a student life center worthy of a flagship institution. They even voted to increase student fees to finance such a facility.
As student-body president and a university trustee last year, Pack embraced the stalled campaign and befriended a fellow trustee who could make things happen. Lisa Eccles could hardly attend a Pac-12 away football game without Pack calling her up with a request for her to tour the opposing school’s facilities.
A decade of student activism achieved its mission on Tuesday when the family foundation Eccles leads announced it was giving $3 million to help build a massive recreation complex that officials say will improve the U.’s undergraduate experience and make the Salt Lake City campus a livelier place.
Barbara Snyder, the U.’s long-serving vice president for student affairs, shed tears at Tuesday’s trustees meeting as President David Pershing promised to have the 172,000-square-foot building finished in 2014.