CORVALLIS - The Oregon State University Foundation has decided to begin the celebration of its 50th anniversary year with a special gift to all OSU alumni, students and friends.

The foundation will contribute $1.5 million to complete funding for OSU's new CH2M-Hill Alumni Center, now under construction on the campus.

"This is the 50th anniversary year of the OSU Foundation," said Keith McKennon, chairman of the board, PacifiCorp, and the foundation president. "We decided this gift would be a splendid way to kick off the celebration of that half century of service to Oregon State University.

"Because of advantageous investments, gifting and favorable stock market, we had the $1.5 million in funds to be used for this project," he added. "We consider the completion to be of utmost importance to Oregon State, and we want to show our support for the splendid efforts of the OSU Alumni Association in leading the project."

"We're extremely pleased to have the foundation's support," said Don Wirth, executive director of the OSU Alumni Association. "Throughout its history, the foundation has made it possible for Oregon State to enrich the life of our campus.

"We believe the new alumni center will become an extraordinary resource for the future of OSU," Wirth added, "and we're delighted to know that vision is shared and supported by the foundation."

The OSU Foundation, which officially marks its 50th year in October, recently completed one of its most successful giving years. In 1996, its total assets increased $4.9 million to more than $228 million.

Private gifts will pay the entire cost of the $6.9 million for the first phase of the project.

Members of the OSU Alumni Association have been raising private gifts for the project since 1993, when efforts to construct the center were initiated with a $2 million corporate gift from CH2M-Hill, a Corvallis environmental engineering company.

When completed later this year, the 45,000-square-foot building will provide expanded hospitality services and facilities for OSU and the Corvallis community, including a major ballroom and meeting room spaces. Construction began in March 1996.

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Keith McKennon, 503-731-2151