University of Oregon President Michael Schill’s portrait was finished and unveiled over winter break in a private showing in the faculty club space of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
The artist of Schill’s portrait, Eugene native Lynda Lanker, requested The Emerald to not publish a picture of the portrait, but you can find it on Lanker’s website here.
Portraits are commissioned for all the university’s presidents and paid for with donations. Lanker was also responsible for the portraits of four of Schill’s predecessors.
According to Faculty Club Board Chair James Harper, who is also a professor of History of Art and Architecture, the showing of Schill’s $20,000 portrait was small and appropriate.
“I don’t think President Schill is the kind of egomaniac who wanted to have a kind of public unveiling of his portrait,” said Harper. “He just wanted to have a sort of quiet moment.”
Lanker’s previous works include William Beaty Boyd, president from 1975 to 1980; Paul Olum, 1980 to 1989; Myles Brand, 1989 to 1994 and Dave Frohnmayer, 1994 to 2009.
Most portraits are hanging in Johnson Hall with a few located in the faculty club area of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, where Schill’s was unveiled.
Schill’s portrait will sit in storage until he leaves the president’s office, said UO spokesman Tobin Klinger, as “it’s about honoring a legacy.”
Despite portraits not being as common as in the time of the university’s early leaders, Harper noted the ritual of lining the walls of Johnson Hall with these paintings.
“I think it’s a very fine and good tradition,” said Harper. “I think it is dignifying to the university, and I think it’s nice for everyone who’s involved with the university — students, faculty, administrators — to kind of sense that they’re surrounded with the history of the place. And I think that having a good, solid, unbroken sequence of presidents’ portraits — it’s just one more way in which the university remembers its history.”
Schill’s decision to have his portrait done in his second year at UO is not unusual, said Harper.
“Sometimes presidents don’t get around to it right away,” he said. “It would be a little weird to commission one the moment you get there, but it’s also good to get that work done so it’s not neglected.”
Harper cited the photo of former UO president Richard Lariviere, who was the UO President from 2009 to 2011, saying that he never got around to having his portrait done, so instead Johnson Hall remembers Lariviere with a photo of him with students.
Klinger agreed that presidents usually sit for their portraits fairly early in their terms. “The president has been jokingly saying that if he had to sit for a formal portrait, he wanted to do so while he still had his hair.”