University of Utah bids fond farewell to Milton Bennion Hall

SALT LAKE CITY -- It brought teachers, students and education lovers together for more than half a century, but in January an iconic building at the University of Utah is set to come down.

The demolition of Milton Bennion Hall will make way for a new business building. John Bennion, grandson of Milton Bennion, spoke when the building was opened 56 years ago.

“I spoke as a student here when it was dedicated, representing the family,” he said.

Bennion spoke again this week as the university bid farewell to the building. His grandfather, Milton, served as a dean for the School of Education for 28 years.

John Bennion remembers exactly what he talked about all those years ago.

“I talked mostly about my grandfather, and reminisced about when I was a teenager, going down to his house with my father on Sunday afternoons and listening to them talk about social, and educational,  and political and economic issues," he said.

In 2013, the College of Education found a new home in the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts and Education Complex. Bennion says, like people, buildings have their life cycle.

“It’s nostalgic, it’s sad in a way, but the building is showing its age,” he said.

It’s a fond farewell for everyone who took classes in the building and put down deep roots in Utah’s education system.

“Although they have cherished memories, it’s not just about the building,” said Maria Franquiz, the Dean of the College of Education at U of U. “It’s about the people who made a difference in their lives, their caring professors, their teaching assistants.”

Trustees will act on a proposal to make a Milton Bennion Education Plaza in front of the new business building.

But, as for the lasting legacy? John Bennion says his grandfather not only wanted students to learn the technical aspects of teaching and leadership, but also to put great emphasis in character development and good morals. He said he hopes that is the legacy that continues.

“I think more than ever in our nation right now, that’s an important emphasis,” he said.