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University of Oregon looks to bring in $2 billion with capital campaign

This year, the University of Oregon is embarking on the most ambitious public fundraising campaign the state has ever seen.

In October, the UO announced a $2 billion campaign — its third public fundraising campaign since 1992. The other two campaigns pale in comparison— the 1992-1998 goal was set at $150 million, and after an upheaval of gifts, the university ended the campaign at $250 million. The second campaign, from 2000-2008, was set for $600 million and advanced to $853 million upon its closure.

This time the bar is set over $1 billion higher.

“I think it’s both aspirational and a little bit scary,” Vice President for University Advancement Mike Andreason said.

Dave Petrone, Oregon alumnus and chair of the current campaign, is confident that the campaign’s strong leadership will help it succeed.

“We have the best leadership team we’ve ever had, bar none,” Petrone said.

Andreason agrees.

“We’re in a tremendously positive place,” he said. “I would say that the new governing board, the Board of Trustees and the changes really allow the university to imagine a future that is far more aspirational.”

The current campaign had been quietly underway for four years prior to its unveiling this fall when Interim President Scott Coltrane announced the public phase of the campaign to over 700 attendees at an invitation-only event in a tent at Hayward Field.

At that debut on Oct. 17 the UO had already raised $700 million. Today it sits at $737 million.

Andreason said the university does not have a specific deadline for raising the money, but he speculates this campaign will close in 2018. He does not know if the university will increase its goal if it successfully raises $2 billion.

The biggest gift yet is from Steve Ballmer and Connie Ballmer — who is on the UO Board of Trustees — for $50 million.

According to Jim Brooks, the director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, $25 million of their donation will be endowed to support Pathway Oregon, a scholarship program aimed towards Federal Pell Grant-eligible in-state students.

Another priority of the department is to support middle-income students to pursue higher education.

Fundraising will allow the university to maintain academic excellence by funding students who may otherwise be drawn to schools that can offer them more scholarships, Brooks said.

“We want to be able to keep the best and brightest students here,” Brooks said. “We don’t want to lose students to other schools because they can offer the students more in aid than we can.”

The remaining balance of the Ballmer donation will help fund faculty hires and the new “UO brand” which included the new redesign of the university’s webpage.

The campaign will also affect specific departments on campus:

The School of Architecture and Allied Arts hopes to raise a total of $42 million, and has met 64 percent of that goal as of Nov. 30, 2014.

The funds will go toward student and program support, faculty support and a new home for the A&AA. The new building is the biggest priority for the school, according to Associate Dean for Administration Robert Thallon.

The proposed new A&AA facilities will be located on University Street between 15th and 18th Avenue, after moving the softball field and constructing new academic space in its place.

“The project will result in the creation of additional open spaces on campus,” Thallon said. “It’s a beautiful campus – it’s one of the most beautiful in the country − and that’s partly because we have this designated open space.”

The building will also have classrooms and spaces to serve the entire university.

“We don’t want to have just classrooms just for A&AA,” Thallon said. “We want to have the rest of the university interact and see what we’re doing and collaborate.”

The capital campaign also has several plans for the College of Arts and Sciences, including a $34 million budgeted college and careers building. Half of the funding for this building will come from the state, and the other half, from donations to the university.

The college and careers building will have areas for students to study and meet with potential employers and classrooms.

According to Andrew Marcus, the Interim College of Arts and Sciences dean, aside from the building’s initial cost, there is a $5 million budget for upkeep. “We can use the endowment from $5 million to pay for janitorial services and heating and so forth,” he said.

This building received a $10 million gift from philanthropists Will and Don Tykeson on Sept. 17, and currently has $11 million allocated.

“We’re very confident that we’ll get the full amount,” Marcus said.

CAS comprises 49 majors within the university, and this translates to 60 percent of UO’s degrees per year. Currently, the CAS departments are split over more than 52 buildings on and off campus.

Some other goals for CAS during the current campaign are renovating Klamath Hall, $8 million to funding scholarships, $10.5 million to improve the undergraduate experience, including study abroad opportunities and research involvement and $8 million aimed to change curriculum, bringing a total of $26.5 million to student benefits.

A $50 million goal is set to support faculty chairs, $22 million for an intensive research experience for faculty, $10 million to the faculty fighting fund which boosts the salary of key faculty, bringing the total of faculty benefits goals to $82 million. CAS also hopes for $9.5 million for unrestricted support, according to Marcus.

The capital campaign will also affect the Robert D. Clark Honors College, which hopes to raise money to recruit new students and renovate Chapman Hall, the honors building on campus.

The athletics department will also benefit from the campaign.

One project already underway for athletics is the Jane Sander Softball stadium, aimed to be finished by the 2016 season.

The softball budget received a kickstart when Robert Sanders donated $10 million. The stadium will be named after Sander’s late wife, who graduated from the UO in 1950 and was a cheerleader while Sanders was a fullback for the Ducks. The stadium will be built in honor and remembrance of Jane, who passed away in 2013.

On Oct. 15, announced that the SRG architecture firm based in Portland has been selected to design the field. SRG has also previously designed the Lillis Business Complex on campus.

The athletics department was not available for comment.

The current campaign received higher records of first-time donors than the university had seen before, with 8,516 donors in 2014, and 5,163 in 2013. Of these 13,679 donors, 12,287 gave to academics.

The university plans to have a tracking device that the public can view electronically to follow the campaign, but it has not been developed yet.

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Alexandria Cremer

Alexandria Cremer