James Rippey, UO friend and advocate, passes away at age 84

James Rippey, a University of Oregon alumnus, mutual fund industry pioneer and philanthropist, died Saturday, Feb. 27, in Portland. He was 84.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a friend, colleague and mentor,” said Kees de Kluyver, the Rippey Professor of Management and former dean of the Lundquist College of Business. “A business visionary, Jim was also incredibly generous with his time, insights and spirit. Generations of faculty members and students will continue to be touched by his generous giving.”

Rippey and his wife, Shirley, who survives him, have been active supporters of the UO for more than 55 years. In 2015, the Rippeys funded the Cameron Center for Finance and Securities Analysis Professor of Practice position in the Lundquist College of Business and established the James F. and Shirley J. Rippey Graduate Fellowship Fund, which provides support for MBA students in perpetuity.

In addition to the business college, the couple has given generously to the Knight Library, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. Both Jim and Shirley Rippey graduated from the UO in 1953.

“Together with his wife, Shirley, Jim Rippey has been an extraordinary champion of the University of Oregon and its undergraduate teaching mission,” said Alec Murphy, professor of geography and the Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences. “The Rippey Chair, which I have had the privilege of holding since the late 1990s, has greatly facilitated my research while encouraging me to remain focused on the importance of lower-division undergraduate teaching. Over the years I have been consistently inspired by Jim's commitment to making the university an excellent place to work and learn.”

Rippey served as a UO Foundation trustee for a decade, starting in 1986. In 1996, both Jim and Shirley received the UO Presidential Medal for extraordinary service to the university, and in 2004 Jim Rippey was recognized for his business and community leadership with the UO Pioneer Award. In addition to his service to the UO, he was involved with the Providence St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center Foundation and the Portland Rotary Charitable Trust, among others.

Jim Rippey grew up in Coos Bay. After earning his business degree at the UO, he went on to earn his master’s degree at New York University and work for Merrill Lynch on Wall Street. He returned to Oregon to start Columbia Management Company, which became the Pacific Northwest’s largest money management company. Columbia offered Oregon’s first mutual fund and one of the country’s first money-market mutual funds. He retired as president in 1999.

When asked about his philanthropy to the university, Rippey credited the college of business with providing him the direction he needed.

“The business education I received at the UO opened up avenues to me I didn't know were there,” he said. “My time at the university benefited me in so many ways over the years, and at the time it really opened my eyes to what was possible. The University of Oregon gave me a lot, and I’m pleased to be giving back.”

“I had the pleasure of talking with Jim this summer,” said UO President Michael Schill. “He was a kind and altruistic man who had deep affection for the University of Oregon. He will be missed by many.”