Gov. Spencer Cox has appointed the following members to serve on the Utah Board of Higher Education: Stan Albrecht, Julie Beck, Rich Christiansen, Hope Eccles, and Steve Starks. The governor’s nominations are subject to confirmation by the Utah Senate.
The Utah Board of Higher Education oversees the Utah System of Higher Education, which includes eight public colleges and universities and eight technical colleges. The 18-member board sets policy, reviews degrees and programs, hires and evaluates institutional presidents, and submits an annual budget request to the governor and Legislature, among other responsibilities.
“Each member of this cohort of exceptional Utahns has a deep respect for learning and a track record of success,” said Gov. Cox. “I’m grateful to each of them for their willingness to take on this new responsibility and look forward to their wise management of Utah’s colleges and universities.”
Stan Albrecht was raised on a farm near Fremont in Wayne County, Utah. Albrecht began college as an undergraduate student at Southern Utah State College (now known as Southern Utah University), later transferring to BYU. Albrecht initially majored in veterinary science, but soon switched to political science and history before settling on sociology. Albrecht completed both his master’s and doctorate degrees in sociology from Washington State University.
Albrecht taught at Utah State University followed by a faculty position at Brigham Young University where he worked for more than 20 years. During his tenure at BYU, Albrecht served as a professor, department head, dean, academic vice president, and associate provost. Albrecht also worked in a research position as associate director of the epidemiological research center at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He became Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Utah State University in 1998, serving until 2001, when he was named provost of the university. Albrecht was appointed president of Utah State on Feb. 1, 2005. Albrecht retired as president in 2016.
Julie Bangerter Beck was born in Granger, Utah and graduated from Dixie College. Beck attended BYU and completed her bachelor’s degree in family studies. She was a member of the Dixie State University Board of Trustees and most recently served as the board chair prior to her term expiring.
As a full-time homemaker, Beck was active in many community efforts and led Parent Teacher Associations, School District Advisory Councils, Music Teacher Associations, community celebrations, and local politics. She served in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a leader in Primary, Young Women, Relief Society and Scouting, as well as a leader of the Young Women General Board and as First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency. Beck also served as the Relief Society General President. As part of her responsibilities, she was a member of the Church Board of Education and the Board of Trustees of four Church universities; she was on the executive and general councils for Welfare and the Perpetual Education Fund of the church.
Rich Christiansen was re-elected to serve a second term as Southern Utah University’s Board of Trustees Chair in August 2021. He has served on the board since 2017 and is a staunch supporter and promoter of all things SUU. Christiansen has been particularly engaged with SUU’s student entrepreneurs through the Larry H. & Gail Miller Center for Entrepreneurship since its inception. He was a founding member of the Dixie L. Leavitt School of Business Entrepreneurship Leadership Council and has mentored and trained current and aspiring entrepreneurs on the state, national and international stage.
Christiansen is well known as a thought leader and national best-selling author of “The Zig Zag Principle.” He is a serial entrepreneur and has been the founder or co-founder of 52 businesses, of which 16 have become multimillion-dollar successes. Christiansen is also a philanthropist and humanitarian with a special interest in projects where he can take an active role in educating the next generation of leaders. His latest endeavor is as the co-founder of Legado Family, an organization to help families create a financial and cultural legacy. Christiansen earned a bachelor’s degree in Electronic Engineering Technology and an MBA from Brigham Young University.
Hope Eccles is the president of the Goldener Hirsch Inn, a luxury hotel and restaurant in Deer Valley. She is also involved in a variety of family enterprises in real estate, ranching, investing and philanthropy. Eccles has been actively involved in the community for many years, particularly focused on areas related to education and educational reform. A former member of the University of Utah Board of Trustees, she also served as deputy director for higher education for former Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. She currently serves as a member of the University of Utah Hospital Board of Directors, Stanford University’s Bill Lane Center for the American West, the Marriner S. Eccles Foundation, and the Spencer F. and Cleone P. Eccles Family Foundation as well as on the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation Advisory Board.
Eccles received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, a JD from the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, and her MBA from Columbia University. In 2021, in recognition of her decades of service and leadership in education, public policy and philanthropy, the University of Utah presented her an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Steve Starks is the chief executive officer of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, a position he’s held since August of 2019. As CEO, he leads a diverse portfolio of companies, is responsible for overall organizational strategy and performance, and serves as a member of the company’s board of directors. Starks previously served as president of the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment. He also served as the executive vice president in 2007 for The Larry H. Miller Company, Intermountain West.
In addition to his professional roles, he serves as the governor’s Olympic and Paralympic Advisor and is the chair of EDCUtah. Starks is a past chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Directors and also served on the Weber State University Board of Trustees. He was recognized as Utah Business Magazine’s 2021 CEO of the Year and a 2013 Top Forty Under Forty. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree of Integrated Studies from Weber State University in 2003.