Hail to the Chiefs

Clockwise from left: 2009-10 ASUO president Emma Kallaway '10 and vice-president Getachew Kassa; Clifton "Pat" McArthur '01; Claude Robinson '24; Ron Eachus '70; and Phil Sherburne '64. Kallaway and Kassa photo by Mike Perrault. All others: UO Librairies

At the end of their tenure as president, those who’ve held the Associated Students of the University of Oregon’s highest-ranking position don’t get to build a library and retire to a life of leisure and occasional diplomacy. Instead, the ASUO presidency is merely the beginning of a long résumé filled with interesting achievements and notable positions. After all, these are young men and women with the passion, creativity, and drive to be elected as leaders by fellow students during their years on campus. What work will they choose once they leave Eugene, and what places will they take in the world? With a few famous and infamous exceptions, such as former Oregon governor Neil Goldschmidt ’63, who served as ASUO president during the 1962–63 academic year, most former presidents don’t make the national headlines. But many of them, like so many UO alumni we have the honor of profiling in the pages of Oregon Quarterly, have continued to demonstrate their capacities for leadership in a surprising variety of ways. These are just a few of the stories from 110 years of ASUO presidents we gathered when we asked, “Where did they go from here?”

The newly created ASUO’s first president, Clifton “Pat” McArthur ’01 (ASUO president 1900–1901) had a career that would be echoed by many of those who followed him. McArthur dabbled in journalism, farming, and law during his early career, before turning to state politics. He was Oregon governor Frank Benson’s secretary, until Benson’s poor health forced him to turn over the governorship to State Senate President Jay Bowerman, father of Bill Bowerman ’34. McArthur served as speaker of Oregon’s House of Representatives during the 1909 and 1913 terms, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1915, where he served until 1923. Sadly, he did not live to see McArthur Court, named in his honor, completed in 1926.

Claude Robinson ’24 (1923–24) was completing a master’s and PhD degrees in sociology at Columbia when he had an idea for an invention that would measure when a radio was turned on, the station it was tuned to, and how long it remained on that station. Although a ratings industry didn’t yet exist in America, Robinson figured it was only a matter of time until the need for such measurements would present itself. Turns out he was right: Robinson, along with George Gallup, was instrumental in designing the scientific sampling techniques now common in polling and public opinion research.

Thomas Tongue ’34, JD ’37 (1933–34) earned both his undergraduate and law degrees at the UO before enlisting law school dean Wayne Morse’s help to win a Yale Sterling Fellowship and adding a doctor of the science of the law degree to his credentials. Tongue worked for the federal government and the UO before entering private practice in Portland. Governor Tom McCall ’36 named Tongue to the bench of the Oregon Supreme Court in 1969, where he remained until his retirement in 1982.

John Dick ’40 (1939–40) managed to balance a trio of heady commitments during his days in Eugene, serving simultaneously as a student, ASUO president, and starting forward on the UO’s 1939 national champion Tall Firs basketball team. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dick enlisted in the Navy, embarking on a thirty-one-year career and achieving the rank of rear admiral. He was inducted into the UO Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.

Art Johnson ’50 (1949–50) served in the Air Force after graduating from the UO and then went on to law school at Harvard before returning to Eugene. He has made his career as a litigator and currently is the senior shareholder at Johnson, Clifton, Larson, and Schaller, in Eugene. He is a former president of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, the Lane County Bar, and the Oregon State Bar. Johnson received the Owen M. Panner Professionalism Award in 2006 and has also been recognized for his distinguished career by the UO School of Law.

Phil Sherburne ’64 (1963–64) also graduated from Harvard Law School but was drawn away from practicing law by the opportunity to work on developing a low-income housing project in Chicago. From there, more developments and projects, each based on principles of sustainable, nature-conscious design, followed. Sherburne has left his fingerprints up and down the West Coast, on projects ranging from a Napa Valley eco-luxury hotel to Seattle’s Pacific Medical Center to a planned community in the San Juan Islands where cars are outlawed and a community ferry provides the only access. Sherburne’s projects have not only set new standards for low-impact architecture and landscaping, but they also continually amaze and inspire those who work on, inspect, visit, and stay in his creations.

Ron Eachus ’70 (1970–71 and editor of the Oregon Daily Emerald during the 1968–69 school year) served as an Oregon legislator and was chairman of the state’s Public Utility Commission for fourteen years. These days, Eachus is a political columnist for Salem’s Statesman Journal.

Bill Wyatt ’74 (1972–73) was chief of staff for Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, MD ’73, during the governor’s first stint in office, and since late 2001 has been executive director of the Port of Portland, where he oversees three airports and four marine channels. He has worked on behalf of various Portland- and business-promoting groups, and was a state representative in the mid-1970s.

Jim Bernau ’76 (1975–76) started Willamette Valley Vineyards in 1983, when he first cleared away acres of tangled blackberries and ancient plum trees to make way for pinot noir vines. At first, he watered each vine by hand with hundreds of feet of garden hose. Since then, the vineyard-on-the-hill that one passes on I-5 just south of Salem has grown into “One of America’s Great Pinot Noir Producers,” according to a headline in Wine Enthusiast magazine. Along the way, Bernau has been active in shepherding small business and wine-growing legislation through Oregon’s legislature, paving the way for the industry as we know it today.

Andy Clark ’90 (1989–90) is director of legislative affairs for the University System of Maryland, which oversees 150,000 students at twelve institutions. Clark was a legislative assistant for U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, MA ’77, before moving on to serve the Oregon University System. He founded a political consulting firm, NorthPoint Communications, in 2005 and assumed his current post in Maryland in 2008. He serves on the UO Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.

Jennifer Bills ’96 (1991–92) surprised many who knew her during her activist campus years by joining the Eugene Police Department after graduation. She currently serves as a lieutenant with the EPD, where she has been responsible for numerous tasks not suitable for the faint of heart, such as overseeing the department’s patrols in and around Autzen Stadium on game days.

Bobby Lee ’93, MPA ’97, (1992–93) was appointed by former governor Barbara Roberts to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, and later served as a Eugene city councilor during the “anarchist capital of the United States” years of the late-1990s. He now works as corporate communications officer for Hynix Semiconductor, which manufactures the brains (well, memory, anyway) of electronic gadgets around the world.

Rachel Pilliod ’04 (2002–3) is currently a medical student at Oregon Health and Science University, where she plans to specialize in women’s health and health policy. But she’s not waiting until graduation in 2012 to start working for change: Pilliod was named to a four-year term as the OHSU Board of Directors’ student representative in 2009.

Emma Kallaway ’10 (2009–10) is the newest member of the former presidents’ society, but is wasting no time getting started on her career. Kallaway served as a field organizer for the Democratic Party of Oregon’s Lane County office during the cliffhanger 2010 gubernatorial election. Her next assignment is as the legislative director of the Oregon Students Association, where she’ll work with Executive Director Emily McLain ’08 (2007–8). Kallaway says she’d love to stay involved in Oregon politics in the future, but she’s also interested in entrepreneurship. If Oregon Quarterly should happen to write this story again in a decade or two, she hopes that her entry might read something like this: “helped people start the business of their dreams, supported her community through politics, and built a strong family with the person she loved.”