Thriving with Help from Friends

Students walk in front of the Lillis Complex on a warm day (credit: Charlie Litchfield)

Thank you, Ducks! Since the UO began its fundraising campaign with a silent phase in 2010, 146,698 donors have given 548,834 gifts exceeding $2.72 billion (as of May 31, 2021)

What can Ducks do in a decade? In the last 10 years at the University of Oregon, much has happened: a record increase in four-year graduation rates, a dramatic expansion of facilities, and the formation of an independent governing board. There was also the UO’s community-focused response to a pandemic that fundamentally changed university life.

Through it all, the UO’s alumni and friends have strengthened the institution by donating to the current $3 billion fundraising campaign—the largest such effort by an organization in the history of the state. The unprecedented generosity of donors has touched every corner of campus and energized key areas.

For the Students

Student success is a defining priority of the campaign. With students in mind, nearly 40,000 Ducks have given to scholarships, advising, internships, emergency funds, and more. (Read more stories of impact.)

A pivotal $25 million gift in 2015 from Steve and Connie Balmer, BS ’84 (journalism), ensured long-term stability for PathwayOregon, which provides tuition, fees, advising, and—most of all—opportunity to Pell Grant-eligible students from Oregon. In the last 10 years, about 2,000 donors have contributed to an innovative program that has assisted more than 6,500 students.

At the heart of campus, the new Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall houses an academic support hub made possible by gifts from the late Willie and Don Tykeson, BS ’51 (business administration), and Shirley Rippey, BA ’53 (psychology). Students meet with academic and career advisors to plan course schedules, build résumés, and make informed decisions about their academic path. They’re connecting with guides virtually during the pandemic, but in-person conversations return this fall.

These efforts and more contributed to a significant milestone in 2020: the university achieved the goal of increasing the four-year graduation rate by 10 percentage points, reaching a record 61.3 percent.

Expansion into Applied Science

The UO’s traditional research strengths in fundamental science have been bolstered by campaign gifts such as the Lillis family’s $10 million pledge to increase faculty in volcanology and the Boyles’ $10 million investment in zebrafish and genomics. With the launch of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, donors have also ushered in a new era of applied science at the UO, in which discoveries from the lab or field quickly become applications, such as medical devices and findings about human behavior that could lead to policy changes.

One example of this work is materials scientist Jonathan Reeder’s research on pain management.

Modern pain management techniques rely largely on the same method that has endured for thousands of years: oral delivery of an opioid. Reeder is studying the efficacy of miniaturized, implantable devices that automatically detect and eliminate pain signals, potentially improving the lives of patients with chronic pain with an alternative to opioids.

Economic Recovery

The University of Oregon Portland Internship Experience is supporting post-pandemic economic recovery efforts.

Students participating in the donor-funded program earn a $5,000 stipend and gain professional experience while assisting small businesses and nonprofit, civic, or educational organizations in Portland.

Interns work up to 40 hours per week for 10 weeks from late June through early September, while participating in professional development and social activities.

Under this year’s theme, Student Recovery Corps, participants are focusing on areas such as social justice, community building, racial equity, and economic revitalization. Students are building career skills and connections while assisting employers with projects, outreach, and other work.

—By Monique Danziger, director of Development Communications

Photo by Charlie Litchfield, University Communications

TRANSFORMING CAMPUS

Lead gifts from friends spur construction, renovation:

Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library: opened in 2016

Pacific Hall and new science labs: renovation started in 2016

Berwick Hall, home of the Oregon Bach Festival at the School of Music and Dance: opened in 2017

Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center: opened in 2019

Tykeson Hall, a campus hub for student success: opened in 2019