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Most Utahns are familiar with the philanthropic reputation of the Eccles family, but few appreciate the depth of their legacy.

With a sharp ax and a strong back, family patriarch David Eccles and matriarch Ellen Stoddard built an empire based on industry and public service that has continued for generations. David and Ellen's eldest son, Marriner S. Eccles, extended the family's impact on business and economic life in Utah, and the nation.

Just to clarify the genealogy, David Eccles, 1849-1912, was a prominent Utah industrialist and entrepreneur; Marriner and George were two of his sons; and Spencer F. Eccles, chairman of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles and Marriner S. Eccles foundations, is George and Marriner's nephew.

A well-known Republican from Logan, Marriner was recruited by Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt to chair the Federal Reserve Board from 1934 to 1948. He authored the Banking Act of 1935, which ensured an independent central bank, and encouraged low-cost financing, which helped a nation of workers get back to work during the Great Depression. He and his brother George founded First Security Corporation, which famously avoided two runs on banks that could have broken banking in Utah. Other business interests included construction, sugar and lumber. In short, he was instrumental in developing sound banking and economic policy in Utah and the nation.

Marriner believed, "The only true satisfaction is to feel that we have contributed in some way, however small, to the well being of others . ... We are here to enrich the world. And insofar as we lose sight of that fact, we impoverish ourselves."

This sentiment is why the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah was so proud to announce the new Marriner S. Eccles Institute for Economics and Quantitative Analysis, which honors Marriner's name and his legacy of sound economic and business principles. The Institute is funded with gifts of $10 million from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Marriner S. Eccles Foundation, and $10 million from the Charles Koch Foundation.

With funds from the Koch Foundation, some worry the institute will coerce a specific, far-right ideological slant. But the institute is committed to operate as a nonpartisan outlet for open scholarship and cooperative research.

The same is true of Utah State University's Huntsman School of Business, recently the recipient of a $25 million gift from the Koch Foundation, matched by a donation from the local Huntsman Foundation. Those gifts, announced in May by Jon M. Huntsman Sr., will bolster the Huntsman Scholars program, which offers students both financial aid and opportunities to study abroad.

The new Eccles Institute, interdisciplinary in nature, will fund $1.6 million in scholarships for students to learn business technical skills, including statistics, game theory and econometric and quantitative analysis. The goal is to expand job opportunities in banking, private equity, technology, health care and academia. The institute will also fund research by leading faculty from across the nation.

Utah has been immeasurably enriched by the Eccles family, and this new institute will continue to develop our high quality educational opportunities, our skilled workforce and our thriving economy.

To the Eccles family, and the Koch Foundation, thank you.

Editor's note • Paul Huntsman, a son of Jon Huntsman Sr., is the owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune.