July 09, 1998
Harvard
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Roy and Elizabeth Simmons Professorship Endowed at HBS

A new chair at the Business School is truly a family affair. The six children of Roy and Elizabeth Simmons (four of whom hold Harvard M.B.A.'s) recently established a fund to create a professorship in their parents' name. Given that their father -- now an energetic 82 -- is the chairman of Utah-based Zions Bancorporation, one of the most successful bank holding companies in the country, the professorship will support Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty in the area of banking and finance.

"We wanted to give back to an institution that means a lot to us," said Harris H. Simmons, a 1980 Business School graduate. Added David E. Simmons, who earned his M.B.A. in 1985, "Our experiences at HBS were incredibly important in shaping who we are as businesspeople."

Roy W. Simmons and his wife, Elizabeth ("Tibby"), met when they were students at the University of Utah during the Great Depression. Roy had to drop out of school during his junior year, when he ran short of funds, but Tibby graduated with a degree in speech and English. After they were married in 1938, she took a job at a bank headed by her father. Her husband eventually went to work there as well and soon enjoyed considerable success.

In 1949 Roy became banking commissioner of Utah -- the youngest person in the country to hold that position. He left office in 1952, however, to organize the Bank of Utah in Ogden, and a year later he was named president of the Lockhart Company, a consumer finance firm in Salt Lake City.

In 1960 Roy and two colleagues purchased controlling stock in Zions First National Bank from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After three years, Zions and Lockhart merged to form Zions Bancorporation, and Roy was soon elected chairman and CEO. Under his leadership, an ambitious expansion program took place throughout Utah. In addition, the 1985 purchase of the Nevada State Bank in Las Vegas set a precedent for Zions' growth into other states. From 1964 to 1986, the bank's assets increased from $150 million to more than $3 billion.

Tibby's work over the years has focused on her family and church. While raising her children, she devoted considerable time to working with young members of the Mormon Church. She also played a major role in the restoration of several historic buildings of interest to the church, including Salt Lake City's Lion House, the original home of Brigham Young.

"Roy and Tibby Simmons have been wonderful role models for their children, community, and business associates," Business School Dean Kim B. Clark commented. "It is a privilege for the Business School to have a chair that recognizes this amazing family."

 

 


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College