CORVALLIS - Oregon State University has received one of the largest gifts in its history, a donation of $20 million to support its campaign to boost the OSU College of Engineering into one of the top 25 engineering programs in the U.S.
The gift, from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, is the lead gift in the $120 million "OSU College of Engineering Technology Campaign," which already has raised $45 million in less than two years.
"The energy and enthusiasm from donors who share the vision about Oregon State University's leadership role in the state's high-tech future has been very, very impressive," said Rebecca Cole, president and CEO of the OSU Foundation. "And that momentum is continuing. We have several other proposals pending, including a number of important requests in the pipeline."
OSU President Paul Risser, who worked closely with the anonymous donor, said the benefactor shares the university's vision for the future.
"This is a person who is well aware of the engineering and technology issues facing Oregon and felt strongly that a personal investment could help make things happen," Risser said. "There was a sense of excitement about OSU's mission to have a top tier College of Engineering, and an awareness of the work that our faculty are doing with industry in Portland, around the state, and around the world."
Cole said the $20 million stock gift is the largest "outright" gift in the university's history. The only larger donation was a deferred gift of forest land from the estate of Kay Richardson that eventually was sold for $23.8 million. The $20 million donation will be the lead gift toward construction of a new $45 million engineering education and research building.
Less than two years ago, OSU embarked on its $120 million College of Engineering Technology Campaign that is designed to fuel the university's climb into the upper echelon of engineering programs. OSU's College of Engineering is ranked among the top 75 programs in the country and is aiming at becoming one of the top 25 such programs.
Response by donors --- individuals and technology companies --- has been swift and widespread.
During fiscal year 1999, the OSU Foundation received a gift of $5.9 million from the estate of Edward N. Rickert Jr., in what then was the largest gift earmarked for engineering in the university's history. Other major gifts from individuals have followed, including an anonymous $2 million donation to endow a professorship in the College of Engineering.
One of the most unique gifts has come from the employees of the Peter Kiewit Sons Co., who already have raised more than $1.4 million toward their goal of $1.6 million to create an "infrastructure center" and endowed chair in the OSU College of Engineering.
"The majority are OSU graduates, but others are key managers who have seen the value of Oregon State to the leadership and hiring efforts of our company," said Lee Kearney, a retired director of the company. "Our vision is a center that would focus research activity on infrastructure needs and draw money for applied research into issues relating to highways, materials, water quality, industrial pollutants, and the environment from such agencies as highway departments, the Corps of Engineers and others.
"It's a win-win situation," Kearney added. "The agencies can target research specific to their needs, and OSU undergraduate and graduate students can use these projects to further their education."
Corporate gifts include $2.3 million in computers from Hewlett-Packard and $250,000 from Radysis for scholarships and equipment. Other proposals are in the discussion stage, according to Ron Adams, dean of the OSU College of Engineering.
"It isn't just the technology 'giants' who are supporting the campaign," said OSU Foundation CEO Cole. "We've received gifts start-up companies as well.
Included is a gift of $150,000 from 800.com, all of which will be funneled into student scholarships. The online electronics retail company "spun off" from the Tyee Group in 1997.
"We believe strongly that the creation of a nationally ranked College of Engineering at OSU will attract and keep the top companies and students in this area," said Greg Drew, founder and CEO of 800.com. "As part of this belief, 800.com is making this donation, which will ultimately benefit promising students."
Note to Reporters: A table showing the largest gifts in OSU history follows:
Largest Gifts in Oregon State University History
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Ron Adams, 541-737-7722