The History of the Eccles Prize

George S. Eccles Prize for Excellence in Economic Writing

A 1922 graduate of Columbia Business School, the late George S. Eccles established this prize and speaker forum at his alma mater more than 25 years ago to foster greater interest in and public discourse about economic theory, practice and issues. The prize is awarded to the author of the best book or writings on economics that bridge theory and practice, as determined by top members of the Columbia Business School faculty and alumni.

During its initial years (1986-98), prize winners included such notables as Henry Kaufman, Mary Ann Keller, Ron Chernow and Daniel Yergin, to name only a few. In 2010, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation — in honor and memory of its founder — re-established not only the prize and speaker forum, but also an allied annual research award in Finance and Economics for a Columbia Business School faculty member.

George S. Eccles (1900-1982) was a leading figure in the nation's banking industry for more than half a century. As CEO of First Security Corporation, he played a key role in founding and guiding the enterprise, which held the distinction as the nation's oldest and largest multi-state bank holding company at the time of its historic merger with Wells Fargo & Company in 2000. A son of pioneering Utah industrialist David Eccles, George grew up in the small rural community of Logan, Utah, and “headed east” to pursue his education. It was at Columbia that he met fellow student Dolores Doré, a "Texas belle" whom he would wed in 1925. When his banking career that began in New York City eventually brought them back to Utah, George went on to lead First Security Corporation as its CEO for more than 40 years, and the couple became among the state's most active, generous, and honored civic leaders and philanthropists.

Today, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation carries on the philanthropic goals of its founders, focusing its grant-making programs in areas including education, arts, healthcare, community/societal needs, and historic/environmental preservation. It is ably led by its directors including Spencer F. Eccles, chairman & CEO; Lisa Eccles, president & COO; and Robert M. Graham, secretary, treasurer and general counsel.