The University of Oregon has announced a $50 million gift from an anonymous donor in support of research and discovery, student success, and endowed faculty chairs.
Announced in a videotaped "state of the university" speech by UO president Michael H. Schill after student protesters took over the event stage, the gift will establish the Presidential Fund for Excellence in support of strategic investments that build on and leverage the university's existing strengths. The first five initiatives earmarked for funding are the Presidential Initiative in Data Science, which will be used to expand OU's capacity to study "big data"; matching funds for nine endowed chairs, one in each of the university's schools and colleges; the Media Center for Science and Technology, a new interdisciplinary research center in the School of Journalism and Communication that will explore how communications can better advance scientific discoveries; the Oregon Research Schools Network, which will work to increase the college readiness of Oregon high school students through a pilot program that embeds College of Education faculty members in the state's high schools; and support for programming at the new Black Cultural Center, which is in the construction-planning phase.
"It is only through the production of knowledge in our laboratories and libraries, the transmission of knowledge in our classrooms and studios, the acquisition of critical-thinking skills in our lecture halls and seminar rooms, and the understanding and embrace of difference that takes place everywhere on campus — in our residence halls, in our classrooms, at our athletic events — that we will solve our global problems and support a civil society," said Schill. "The University of Oregon will not let the multitude of societal challenges daunt us. Instead, we will push the boundaries of exploration, curiosity, and creativity to find solutions, answers, and understanding."
With the $50 million, UO has raised more than $1.7 billion toward its $2 billion campaign goal. "With this gift, the donors are saying this is the moment, this is the time for the University of Oregon to take on bold initiatives," said Mike Andreasen, the university's vice president for advancement. "By empowering the president and the academic leadership to make those kinds of investments, our hope is they'll inspire others to give as well."