Alumni center will become welcome mat

Shawn Hatjes

The Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn Ford Alumni Center, slated to open to the public in May 2011, is nearing completion as the University’s primary building for receiving and entertaining visitors as well as the central offices for University private fundraising.

Construction on the building, located next to Matthew Knight Arena, started in February 2010. Funded by private donations and state F bonds, the $32 million Alumni Center was one of the initiatives of Campaign Oregon, the largest fundraising effort in the state’s history. The building’s namesakes, Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn Ford, donated the lead gift to the Alumni Center project in June 2006, which helped spearhead the broader fundraising campaign.

“I’ve seen the remarkable things an alumni center can accomplish, and we’re going even further by making the Ford Alumni Center a place for all Ducks — former and future ­— to find meaningful connections to the University,” University President Richard
Lariviere said during his investiture ceremony last Friday.

The 60,000-square-foot building will serve both as the first tour stop for prospective Ducks and also a meeting place for students from the past. The Ford Alumni Center will feature interactive media that teaches visitors about University history, current University
information and alumni who have had significant impacts in their professions and in the world. The University projects the center will see more than 17,000 visitors per year through more than 600 recruitment and information sessions.

When tours are not being conducted, the Ford Alumni Center will also serve as a central meeting point on campus for social and academic functions. Amenities featured in the center will include a fire-lit reception atrium, a library and study spaces for students. The center’s ballroom and 12 conference rooms will be available for use by University groups and will also host events such as alumni reunions and board meetings.

“Currently, many of the larger alumni events are conducted off campus due to the high demand for event space on campus, especially during peak times such as alumni board, homecoming or commencement weekends,” University spokesperson Julie Brown said.

Aside from serving visitors, the Ford Alumni Center will also house the University of
Oregon Foundation, UO Alumni Association and the Office of Development. The University hopes placing these closely related departments in the same building will promote greater cooperation among University fundraising offices.

“This facility will be … fostering a synergy and collaboration among those organizations that will have a direct impact on the UO’s ability to maintain and grow the success we achieved through Campaign Oregon and beyond,” Brown said.

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