CORVALLIS - Dwayne Foley, a former executive for Northwest Natural Gas who has headed the Oregon State University Alumni Association for the last two years, has been named CEO of the Oregon State University Foundation.

Foley will remain executive director of the OSU Alumni Association, but he will relinquish day-to-day management to others within that organization. He succeeds Rebecca Cole, who resigned in January, as the leader of the OSU Foundation. Orcilia Zuniga-Forbes, vice president for university advancement at OSU, has served the last five months as interim CEO.

Tom Usher, chairman of the OSU Foundation Board of Governors, said Foley's management experience in the business community and with the OSU Alumni Association will serve him well at the helm of a foundation that has the largest endowment of Oregon's public universities.

"The leadership that Dwayne Foley brings to the table will unquestionably help the OSU Foundation grow and prosper," Usher said. "It has long been a goal of the university to have its foundation and its alumni association work more closely together, and Dwayne's familiarity with both organizations is a tremendous asset."

Oregon State President Paul Risser said the university will benefit from Foley's leadership, his familiarity with both organizations, and his experience in the corporate world.

"The power of Dwayne Foley's appointment will result from bringing together more effectively than ever the programs of the OSU Alumni Association for our alums and friends with the giving opportunities managed by the OSU Foundation," Risser said. "People and organizations give to OSU because they know they can make an impact and because they see and understand the university's rapid progress and momentum."

Foley was senior vice president for Northwest Natural Gas from 1990 to 2000, overseeing the company's technical operations, including engineering and construction. At the same time, he also served as CEO of Oregon Natural Gas Development Corp., a subsidiary of Northwest Natural.

That experience with separate, yet similar organizations will help Foley make the transition to the OSU Foundation, while at the same time, creating ties between the foundation and the organization he has led for the past two years, he said.

"The specific missions of the Alumni Association and the OSU Foundation are different," Foley said, "but I believe we can develop the right climate that will allow the organizations to create all kinds of powerful synergies."

The OSU Foundation has total assets that exceed $400 million, and boasts an overall endowment of more than $266 million. During the last two years, the foundation has focused much of its energy on the College of Engineering Technology Campaign to support the goal of the college to become one of the top 25 engineering programs in the country. The campaign has raised more than $51 million in gifts and pledges, including $20 million from one individual - alumnus Martin Kelley - that will go toward construction of a major new engineering building. The groundbreaking for that $47 million building will take place early this fall.

The OSU Foundation also supports the university's academic programs by raising funds for scholarships, endowed chairs and professorships, as well as for special collections, teaching, research and equipment.

Over the years, the foundation has played a key role in expanding the university's infrastructure. Its support has helped build the LaSells Stewart Center, the College of Forestry's Richardson Hall, and the CH2M-HILL Alumni Center, as well as fund the expansion of The Valley Library.

Foley joined Northwest Natural Gas in 1967, following his graduation from OSU. He held a variety of management positions with the company in his 30-plus years in private industry before returning to OSU, where he had earned a degree in mechanical engineering.

As head of the OSU Alumni Association, Foley strengthened the cultural and educational program offerings of the organization and installed a sound, professional management strategy that embraced strategic planning and the growth of the professional staff. Successful events for alumni were highlighted by a series of activities at the 2000-01 Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., where an estimated 40,000 OSU fans watching the OSU football team defeat Notre Dame.

Another substantive change was the transition of The Oregon Stater alumni publication from a tabloid into a magazine.

"None of these accomplishments came easily," Foley said, "but we were able to progress quickly. I am confident that the Alumni Association is ready for the next big step forward, and my new assignment will afford some of the maneuvering room to do that.

"Similarly, the work of the OSU Foundation is about people, relationships, connections and - ultimately - about the realization of dreams," he added.

"Beneath that, it is necessary to have in place the professionals, the systems, the skills and the information necessary to make it work for the university and for its supporters. As CEO, it is my role to create the environment and structure to make it flourish."

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Tom Usher, 503-279-1777