$1 million gift from Duck patrons will boost EMU renovation

The historic Fishbowl in the Erb Memorial Union
The historic Fishbowl in the Erb Memorial Union

What’s going to happen to the Fishbowl? That’s the most common question alumni ask when they see the construction happening at the UO’s Erb Memorial Union.

Fortunately, this campus icon was never slated for demolition. A recent $1 million gift from Nancy and Dave Petrone will restore the historic space and help with the university’s renovation and expansion of the EMU.

Slated for completion in 2016, the project will add much needed space. The last major addition to the EMU was completed in 1973. Since then, the UO’s student population has grown from approximately 16,000 to more than 24,000.The new EMU will feature expanded food and retail spaces, a pub and a three-story atrium.

A significant portion of the project cost is being funded by student fees, which led the Petrones to lend their support.

“Today’s students are vital contributors to this project,” Dave Petrone said. “They are paying it forward, and creating something special for future generations of Ducks.”

“We’re deeply grateful to Nancy and Dave for this generous contribution to what many consider as the heart of campus,” said Robin Holmes, vice president for student life. “The EMU is a major part of the UO experience, and the Petrone family is helping to ensure that it continues to be a hub of student activities for years to come.”

“During my days it was where everyone hung out, and it’s a very important part of my memories of being a student,” said Petrone, ‘66, MBA ‘68. “But it’s more than just a building. That’s something that Robin and other leaders were so clear and convincing about. It’s the impact it will make on students’ lives, how it will leave them enriched by having experiences there. That’s what’s important.”

The Petrones’ impact spans the entire UO campus with financial gifts touching almost every area of the university. Since the early 1990s, they have contributed exceptional volunteer leadership and one-on-one support to hundreds of students, professors, deans, fundraisers and administrators. Dave Petrone was honored with the UO Presidential Medal in 1999 and the Pioneer Award in 2012.

“Supporters like Dave and Nancy are, in many ways, the backbone of major initiatives at this great university,” said Michael Andreasen, vice president for university advancement. “Their actions and dedication to the University of Oregon really define what it means to be a Duck.”

For more information on the project, visit newemu.uoregon.edu.

—By Tobin J. Klinger, Senior Director of Public Affairs Communications