Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter makes largest gift in Utah State University's History

Utah State University President Stan L. Albrecht and the board of directors of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter in Park City announced the largest private gift in USU history on January 15, 2010.

The gift transferred the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter to USU ownership and oversight.  The monetary value of the gift is in excess of $30 million.  Moreover, the addition of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter directly advances USU's statewide scientific, educational and outreach mission in the Park City area.

"The gift of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter will be renowned as one of the most important in Utah State University's history," Albrecht said.  "USU's expertise, coupled with the commitment of the Swaner family and the Park City community, will ensure that the Swaner commitment to the ecosystem will be fulfilled."

While becoming a component unit of Utah State University, the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter will continue to bear the Swaner name as a tribute to Leland and Dr. Paula Swaner.  "Although the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter bear my family's name, we certainly don't deserve all the credit for its creation," said Sumner Swaner, Chairman, Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter Board.  "Over the past 17 years myriad donors, past and current board members, volunteers, friends and family members have worked tirelessly to conserve this land and develop the EcoCenter."

"The board's objective in making this donation was to partner the Preserve and EcoCenter with an organization that will continue the Swaner mission in perpetuity," said Annette Herman, executive director of the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter.  "Utah State University - as Utah's land-grant institution and with its world-renowned curriculum in natural resources, conservation and science - is the perfect match for Swaner."

The EcoCenter is USU's first facility in the Park City area.  Initial development plans call for USU to offer adult and youth programming that complements and expands the current offerings.  In addition, the preserve will serve as a research and demonstration space for world-class research in ecology, wildlife and human interaction with nature.

"When we began creating the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter nearly 20 years ago, we had the goal of finding a partner that shared our vision for this land," said Dr. Paula Swaner, founding board member.  "This is truly a dream come true to know we have found one in USU that will help us conserve and maintain this land as open space forever."

USU's president said the university is thrilled by the gift and the opportunity it represents.  "We look forward to partnering with Swaner's board and staff to offer the Park City community new and unique education opportunities," Albrecht said.  "This site will become a key part of the cultural and educational fabric of Summit County."

The current board of directors remains in place as an advisory board to oversee the Swaner mission and secure the ongoing funds to operate the programming.  Like other USU outreach facilities, the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter will be self-sufficient in funding.  The current staff remains in place to continue and expand the Preserve and EcoCenter's educational, community, and children's programming.

USU is in the midst of a comprehensive campaign to raise $400 million in private support.  This gift brings the campaign total to $285 million.  The campaign continues through July 2012.

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