USU Will Receive $15 Million Gift for Uintah Basin Campus Center
Friday, Oct. 05, 2007
An architect's rendering of Uintah Basin Campus Center
Utah entrepreneur and businessman Marc Bingham and his wife, Debbie, are donating $15 million to Utah State University’s Uintah Basin campus to fund construction of an Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center. The gift will be the largest private gift in USU’s history.
The building will become a state-of-the-art, high-tech educational facility to train students in business, entrepreneurship, accounting, engineering, water management, natural resources, environmental policy and other programs.
“Mr. Bingham’s contribution will have lasting effects on the educational culture and environment in the Uintah Basin,” said USU President Stan L. Albrecht. “It will raise the level of education and the quality of life in the Basin. But, most important for the community, it will support Utah State University’s broader effort to help the Basin recruit its own, educate its own and return them to the local community as educated citizens, business people and leaders.”
A ceremony to celebrate the announcement of the gift is Oct. 25 in the Uintah Basin. Details about the ceremony are still being finalized and will be announced as soon as they are set.
The design and programming phase of the Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center begins in fall 2007 with construction starting in early 2008 and occupancy expected in 2009.
Marc Bingham is a graduate of Utah State University with a degree in wildlife management. In 1971, he founded and became the chief executive officer of PDC (Phone Directories Company), one of the most successful independent publishers in the yellow page industry. Prior to beginning PDC, he worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Price.
Debbie Bingham is former vice president of sales and business development officer for PDC. She was with PDC for more than 22 years. Prior to that, she worked as a manager for First Security Bank. She has been involved with the foundation board for Utah Valley State College, soon to become Utah Valley University, and she supports many pro-education causes, in particular educational causes that impact single mothers.
The building will create a dynamic new research component for the Uintah Basin, Albrecht said. Research teams housed in the center will have the ability to attract external funding from government agencies and industry that will benefit the local community. This increased research funding from state, federal and industry grants will assist the campus in recruiting and retaining students and faculty who will work and live in the Basin.
Robert Foley, chair of the Education Committee for the Vernal area Chamber of Commerce and a member of USU’s board of trustees, said he cannot emphasize enough how critical this project is for the community and how important it is in the effort to meet the growing educational and economic needs of the region.
“Mr. Bingham has come home to Vernal in an exceptional way,” Foley said. “This gift of education challenges everyone in the Basin to learn more, achieve more and be all they can be.”
Foley said Vernal businessman Bob Williams began the exciting changes with his donation nearly two years ago of 138 acres of land that is enabling the addition to the USU Uintah Basin campus. Since that $5.3 million gift, dozens of individuals and businesses have added gifts both modest and large to develop a beautiful campus and to fund educational programs.
These contributions have been coupled with the unprecedented financial contribution of roads and utilities by local governmental entities, making the collaborative endeavor in Vernal unique in the state and perhaps in the nation, Foley said. The Bingham gift will fund the second building on the Vernal campus. It will follow construction of the first building, which will be used jointly by Utah State University and the Uintah Basin Applied Technology College.
“Many of us have dreamed for years of a campus presence in Vernal,” Foley said. “We all would like to thank you Mr. Bingham for making those dreams real.”
Albrecht said worldwide demand for Utah’s mineral resources has put Vernal, Uintah County and the Basin at the center of national and international focus, and a continued interest in energy from traditional and new alternative sources.
The new Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center will help Utah, the region and the nation develop energy resources more efficiently by enabling teams of professionals from key disciplines to work together with government, business and community partners to create synergistic solutions and to foster entrepreneurship.
Bingham’s gift will be complemented by other Uintah Basin community gifts that will help defray the costs for road construction and other infrastructure needs.
Richard Shipley, chair of USU’s board of trustees, said the gift and the building it funds will touch USU constituents throughout the state through the distance learning programs based at the new Uintah Basin site. USU’s regional campuses meet the needs of dozens of communities in the state, he said, so the gift will touch the lives of many people.
“Marc and his wife, Debbie, had a strong desire to give something back to the Basin community – something that would have a positive impact on people’s lives there,” Shipley said. “This building certainly will do that, and it also will become a catalyst for others to see how Utah State University can make a difference in their communities.”
In addition to the Uintah Basin gift, the Binghams have also donated land to the College of Eastern Utah for the Mesozoic Gardens, a half-acre botanical conservatory complete with living plants that have a direct link to the age of dinosaurs. This donation will greatly enhance CEU’s campus facilities, expand its Prehistoric Museum and help make possible research associated with the age of dinosaurs.
The Binghams are also avid hunters and are heavily involved with Utah Foundation for North American Wild Sheep in conservation efforts. They live in Vernal. They have six children, four boys and two girls, with 21 grandchildren and more on the way.
Contact: Rob Behunin, 435-722-1770, 801-400-3649 (cell)
Writer: Tim Vitale, 435-797-1356