Snow dedicates new building
not just to teach science,
but to ‘inspire love’ for it
By Robert Stevens
Oct. 19, 2017
EPHRAIM—When Snow College officials and others dedicated the new Robert M. and Joyce S. Graham Science Center last week, they didn’t simply dedicate it to the teaching of science.
The building was dedicated to what Snow College’s Dean of Natural Science and Math, Dan Black, said was the objective from the very outset of the building’s planners and funders: a “grand vision to build something that would inspire a love of science.”
From the words of many who spoke at the dedication ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 10, that vision has so far been achieved.
“I don’t think I am unique in my excitement while watching the construction of this wonderful building,” Snow College Student Body President Seth Robertson said. “Now my classes have started and I have some in this new building. Sometimes I feel like a little kid, giddy when I see the interactive displays. But the thing I am most excited about is to learn from the people who will teach in this building, because they really care.”
Snow President Gary Carlston backed up Robertson’s words with some of his own regarding those teachers whose job it is to teach from the building’s new and modern classrooms.
“Seth’s excitement about the new building may only be exceeded by the faculty who get to teach here,” Carlston said. “They’ve waited so long for this to come to fruition. It’s a dream come true as you might well imagine.”
The ceremony was as much a celebration of achieving such dreams as it was a recognition of the cutting-edge new facility—all $27.8 million, 56,000-square foot, STEM-focused three stories of it.
When Carlston spoke of the representatives of the architectural and construction firms that built the new science building, he mentioned their passion and devotion to it, as well as their craftsmanship and helpfulness.
One of those men, architect Derek Payne with VCBO Architecture, said he was proud to have been involved with creating “a building that would be worthy of ambition.”
Indeed it was, said Spencer F. Eccles, chairman and CEO of the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, which was a significant donor to the project. Speaking at one point directly to the building’s namesake, Robert Graham, who sits on the Eccles Foundation Board of Trustees, Eccles said something of the standard of quality the building had achieved.
“You know, Bob,” Eccles said, “I’ve got to say, as treasurer of the University of Utah for 34 years, this building ranks up high with any structure on the U of U campus—including Rice-Eccles Stadium.”
It was only a little more than two years ago, Eccles said, when he and other members of his foundation were present at the groundbreaking ceremony for the building.
“That very morning, which was chilly and had snow on the ground, Bob came out of the hospital with a brand-new knee, and no snow tires on his wheelchair. He was saying, ‘There is no way I am going to miss this day. Period.’”
Eccles said Graham had only discovered one month before the groundbreaking that the new building would be named after him and his late wife Joyce. Both Joyce and Robert had grown up in Sanpete, and the couple met and fell in love at Snow College
The building was named after the Grahams because Robert is a longtime member of the Eccles Foundation Board of Trustees, the organization’s treasurer, a close friend to the Eccles family, and both he and his late wife Joyce were longtime champions of Sanpete County and Snow College.
“Our foundation founders, my uncle George and his wife Dolores, had the utmost respect and trust in Bob, as we do,” Eccles said. “How could we not? After all, he grew up right across the street from my wonderful, late, angel wife, Cleone, in the little community of Fairview.”
Eccles said Fairview had produced some of Sanpete’s greatest, including Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who also was present at the dedication, and the college’s own current president, Carlston.
“Throughout his years at our foundation, Bob’s advocacy of Sanpete County and Snow College has never wavered, not once,” Eccles said. “All you have to do is meet Bob to understand why he and his late wife represent the very best that Snow College produces.”
He added, “I am delighted that Snow College shares our desire to honor this remarkable couple by naming this wonderful science building the Robert M. and Joyce S. Graham Science Center.”
Introducing Graham as a speaker, Carlston also hit on the Fairview connection.
“Robert Graham: A Fairview boy, of all things,” he said, “His mother was my first-grade teacher.”
Graham stepped to the podium. “I’d like to start out by telling Bob Hyde, I knew Jack Okland [of Okland Construction, the company that built the company]. And before Jack, I knew his dad, so I go way back.”
He pointed at Student Body President Robertson, saying “Your grandmother was one of my best friends in Fairview for a long time.”
Graham extended his thanks to everyone involved in making the new science center happen. “Having mine and Joyce’s names on this building is unbelievable,” he said.
He told the story about how he had been duped, with a veil of utmost secrecy surrounding the naming of the building, and always being kept in the dark in that respect.
He recounted the tale of how he and his wife had fallen in love on the very campus on which all in attendance stood.
“Snow College was a great experience for Joyce and me,” he said after the story. “We had wonderful friends and teachers.”
At that time, he said, Snow had only 300 students. Football games were played in the undeveloped fields north of town, and there were no women’s sports teams. The college shared some of the same buildings as the then Ephraim High School, and the new science building’s predecessor, the Hans Reed Christensen Science Building, “wasn’t even built yet when we were here,” Graham said. “Snow College means so very much for Joyce and me, and I am confident that this new science center is going to be a big move forward for Snow College.”
Earlier in the ceremony, Carlston had recognized the efforts of Dean Black, who had spearheaded much of the school’s effort to bring the dream to reality.
“Dan has demonstrated remarkable leadership throughout this process, and the college and all of us are deeply indebted to him for what he has done and his great vision, his tenacity and his freely given time,” Carlston said. “Dan has given his heart and soul to this project, and we couldn’t have made it happen without him.”
Black put especial emphasis on thanking people and organizations who donated to the funding of the building, including included everyone from numerous private donors, Spencer Eccles, the Eccles Foundation, the Utah State Legislation and many others.
Black said that without the help they received from initial donors, they would not have arrived at the state-level funding they received for the center, and all would have been lost.
Black thanked contributors from the bottom of his heart for helping the college with its “grand vision.”
Following the event’s speakers, Carlston, Spencer Eccles, Lisa Eccles, Graham, and Snow Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bushnell all assisted in an official ribbon-cutting amid the sound of applause. The building was then made available for guided tours and refreshments.