Oregon Community Foundation grants $1.8M to UO law school

Beatrice Dohrn, director of the Nonprofit Clinic; Marcilynn Burke, dean of law; and Heather Brinton, director, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center.

A pair of Oregon Community Foundation grants totaling $1.8 million will expand opportunities for University of Oregon students and faculty members to develop environmental policy and work with nonprofits in the region.

Michael H. Schill, UO president and professor of law, said the investments, which are expanding programs housed in the UO School of Law, are an affirmation of the university’s mission.

“We are thrilled to receive this support from the Oregon Community Foundation that recognizes our shared interest in improving the lives of Oregonians,” Schill said. “This money will substantially increase our capacity for public interest projects and public policy work, which is central to the UO law school’s mission as the state’s only public law school. These programs give our students incredible opportunities to learn and collaborate, which will help prepare them to be future leaders.”

Marcilynn Burke, dean and Dave Frohnmayer Chair in Leadership and Law, said the grants would have an immediate impact.

“Oregon Law has a long history of producing work that directly benefits our state,” Burke said. “These generous grants from donors associated with the Oregon Community Foundation will significantly increase the number of funded research fellowships for environmental and natural resources law students this fall and extend the resources of the Nonprofit Clinic to more Oregon nonprofits this spring.”

The first award, $1 million from the Evergreen Hill Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, supports a five-year expansion of the interdisciplinary research conducted by the UO School of Law’s acclaimed Environmental and Natural Resources Center. Studies conducted through this program inform and reshape current policy and legal issues in Oregon and throughout the nation.

Recent research through the program examines such issues as coastal communities’ resiliency in a changing environment, autonomous vehicles and the electrification of the transportation system, and the protection of water resources during times of drought.

The center’s director, Heather Brinton, says the grant is transformative.

“By fortifying the Environmental and Natural Resource Law Center’s research capacity, this funding will ensure an unparalleled practical educational experience for our students while delivering important solutions to critical environmental issues to our community,” she said.

The second grant, $800,000 from the Barbara Bowerman Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, supports a nine-year expansion of the law school’s Nonprofit Clinic, which brings students in law, conflict resolution, business, and planning, public policy and management together at the law school to provide comprehensive governance assessments and develop working solutions for Oregon-based nonprofit clients. Since 2013, the clinic has worked with more than 60 nonprofits including Relief Nursery, the Siuslaw Watershed Council, and the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund.

“This generous grant from the Barbara Bowerman Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation will help the Nonprofit Clinic meet the needs of more nonprofits across the state, which will benefit the thousands of Oregonians who depend on their services every day,” said clinic director Beatrice Dohrn.

“The Oregon Community Foundation helps donors connect with organizations and projects that fit their giving priorities,” said donor relations officer Maylian Pak. “We are proud to partner with the University of Oregon to increase their capacity to involve students in hands-on experiences of mutual benefit to students and their community.”

By Melody Ward Leslie, University Communications