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West Valley City Journal

Miller Family Foundation $10M gift is the largest donation Salt Lake Community College has ever received

Dec 04, 2022 11:43AM ● By Carl Fauver

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Some 47 years ago, $8 million was enough money to purchase half of the then-floundering Utah Jazz. Car dealership owner Larry Miller wasn’t worth nearly that much money back then. But he somehow pulled the funding together – along with the additional $14 million it took to buy the “other half” of the NBA franchise the following year.

Nearly a half-century later, times have changed. Now the Miller Family Foundation has that kind of money, not to keep big-time professional sports here in Utah… but to transform a Taylorsville-based institution that’s been around even longer than the Jazz.

Salt Lake Community College opened its doors in 1948. The school will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year. Taylorsville was home to the SLCC “main campus” nearly three decades before the city incorporated. The school arrived in 1967, while the city incorporated in 1996.

Over all those decades, Salt Lake Community College had never received a $10 million single cash donation, ever – until this fall.

“We are deeply humbled by the generosity of Gail and the Miller family and the extraordinary leadership they provide to our community,” said SLCC President Deneece Huftalin, as she recently announced the $10 million gift from the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation. “We are grateful for this gift and for the friendship and support the Miller family has given to the college over the years. SLCC is a better institution because of their involvement and commitment to our students.”

This unprecedented gift to SLCC will all be spent on structural renovations and improvements to the college’s business school building. The structure has now been renamed the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Business Building. Also, the school itself is now called the Gail Miller School of Business.

“I am particularly thrilled to be the first in the state to name a business school after a successful businesswoman and leader,” Huftalin added. “The Gail Miller School of Business amplifies Gail’s amazing skills as a business leader and the success she has achieved through hard work, courage, leading with integrity and a fierce commitment to serving the community. It is a powerful signal to young women that they too can achieve great success.”

The Miller family is a long-time supporter of the school, SLCC officials report, dating back to family-sponsored student scholarships starting in the 1980s. In the early 2000s, the Miller family donated the land and buildings that now make up SLCC’s Miller Campus in Sandy.

“We love the power of learning and are humbled by the opportunity to help others achieve their educational goals,” said Gail Miller, chair of the Miller Family Foundation. Salt Lake Community College plays an important role in developing future business leaders and problem solvers. The knowledge they gain here will enrich lives and strengthen communities.”

Miller has also served the college as a member of the SLCC Board of Trustees, as chair from 2013-2017, and as Trustee Emeritus since 2017. Additionally, since 2013 she has been the title sponsor of the Gail Miller Leadership Cup, an annual golf tournament that raises scholarship dollars for SLCC students. SLCC awarded Miller an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2008.

SLCC Business School Dean, Dr. Dennis Bromley, says the massive remodel to his building will serve students in many ways.

“The addition of a high-tech auditorium will enable us to hold large group events where students will showcase projects they have completed,” Bromley said.  “We will also add dedicated spaces throughout the building where small groups of students can gather to collaborate on projects. The open nature of the space will create a sense of warmth and community where all are welcome.”

SLCC is Utah’s largest two-year college, educating the state’s most diverse student body in 8 areas of study at 10 locations and online. The majority of SLCC graduates transfer to four-year institutions, while thousands more are trained in direct-to-workforce programs. 

According to a news release from the college: “With the Miller Family Foundation’s gift, SLCC will renovate and expand the current 50,000-square-foot business building to include kickstarter spaces for entrepreneurs and upgraded learning environments. The renovation also includes improvements to SLCC’s Business Resource Instructional Center, which offers academic advising and IT assistance to more than 13,000 students annually.

“The gift will also enable SLCC to strengthen the high-impact learning practices in its business courses such as undergraduate research and real-world problem solving. Modeled after the Miller’s commitment to serving the community as they do business, the new Business Scholars Program will require students to work with a faculty mentor each semester to create cause-related or nonprofit projects that benefit the community.”

The remodeled business building will increase its size by 18,900 square feet and will feature an open atrium, expanded auditorium and modernized conference rooms. Construction will begin in 18 months with a targeted completion date of May 2026.

SLCC officials report the business major is the second most-popular major at the college. More than 1,600 students are currently enrolled in the program.