UO announces $50 million gift to fundraising campaign

Connie Ballmer
Connie Ballmer

The University of Oregon has announced a $50 million gift from Connie ’84 and Steve Ballmer, the first significant gift following the UO’s proclamation of its historic fundraising campaign.

Last month, on Oct. 17, the UO declared its goal to raise $2 billion. Now with more than $750 million in commitments, the UO campaign is built on three core tenets – increasing access for deserving students; enhancing excellence at all levels; and improving the UO experience.

The Ballmer gift helps advance the UO’s bold campaign goals, specifically focusing on increasing access to higher education for Oregonians, strengthening the UO’s research efforts, and positioning the UO’s academic excellence on a national scale.

“Receiving only approximately five percent of our budget from the state of Oregon means we need our entire donor community more than ever,” said Scott Coltrane, interim president. “This gift will fundamentally change lives, creating a better future for countless Oregonians by providing access to educational opportunities at the UO. At the same time it will aid us in our fight against a health issue that plagues millions of children and adults. To say that we are grateful is an incredible understatement.”

The $50 million will be used in three ways:

  • Establish a $25 million endowment fund for UO’s PathwayOregon scholarship program. This nationally celebrated program eliminates financial obstacles for high-achieving, federal Pell Grant eligible students and provides mentoring, career planning, financial planning and more to participating students. It is estimated that 400 to 500 Oregonians will benefit directly from the gift annually. To learn more, pathwayoregon.uoregon.edu;
  • Fund the Health Promotion, Obesity Prevention and Human Development Cluster of Excellence ($20 million). This multi-disciplinary effort will add new faculty members into UO’s well-established Prevention Science research program with a focus on obesity prevention and health promotion. Rates of obesity in the U.S are high, with about 35 percent of adults classified as obese. In children, these rates are rising quickly, with about one third classified as obese. Childhood rates of obesity have quadrupled over the past 30 years. By integrating this new expertise with existing research in related disciplines, the UO will build its national and international reputation, and will increase understanding of obesity drivers from biological and social perspectives;
  • Empower the University of Oregon to tell its story ($5 million). The university is engaging in its first comprehensive branding initiative. By finding bold and creative ways to share and celebrate the academic strengths of UO, this effort will elevate awareness in ways designed to attract students and faculty from across Oregon and the country. The initiative is slated to launch nationwide in January.

“PathwayOregon empowers Oregon’s best and brightest to overcome financial obstacles and earn a UO degree,” said Roger Thompson, vice president for enrollment management. “It represents our promise that tuition and fees for academically qualified, federal Pell Grant eligible Oregonians will be covered for four years. This gift will enable UO to make that promise a reality in perpetuity.”

“This gift allows us to build and share our expertise in this important area of public health,” said Elizabeth Stormshak, professor of counseling psychology and leader of the Health Promotion, Obesity Prevention and Human Development Cluster of Excellence. “Our goal is to positively impact the lives of children and families, in Oregon and all over the world, as we strive to understand ways to prevent childhood obesity and promote healthy development.”

For more information about the campaign, visit giving.uoregon.edu.

--By Tobin J. Klinger, Public Affairs Communications