CORVALLIS, Ore. - Two families have made the first gifts qualifying for a new matching program designed to spur private investment in Oregon State University's faculty.

Lee and Connie Howard Kearney of Vancouver, Wash., have committed $2.5 million to create two faculty endowments in OSU's School of Civil and Construction Engineering. A $500,000 gift from Thomas W. Toomey of Evergreen, Colo., will create a faculty endowment in the College of Business.

Both gifts qualify for OSU's innovative Provost's Faculty Match Program, which aims to build endowments for faculty positions that help expand OSU's international leadership in programs that advance the science of sustainable Earth ecosystems, improve human health and wellness, and promote economic growth and social progress.

In an endowed fund, the principal gift is invested, producing a steady, reliable flow of expendable funds in perpetuity.

"The Provost's Match was an attractive encouragement for us to make a gift to support an endowed faculty position because it immediately provides the college with funds that are almost equal to what will be generated by the gift itself," Lee Kearney said.

"At OSU we have some of the world's leading researchers," Kearney pointed out. "Connie and I want to help the university not only retain these faculty, but also help recruit their successors. It's important for our state and our region to hold on to these exceptional leaders."

Funded by the OSU Provost's Office, the matching program has the potential to leverage more than $20 million in private support for endowed faculty positions. Faculty are the drivers for success in OSU's educational and research programs, said provost and executive vice president Sabah Randhawa, and endowed positions are the most effective way to recruit, and retain, those leaders.

"The Provost's Faculty Match program and the donors who participate in it will allow us to build a faculty that will advance the university's areas of distinction, provide high quality education to a growing and diverse student body, and enable us to make progress toward our vision of becoming a top-10 Land Grant university," he said.

In addition to other gifts to OSU, the Kearneys provided more than $4 million to help renovate the 1898 building which serves as the home of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering and has been renamed Kearney Hall in their honor. Lee Kearney, a former director and division manager of Peter Kiewit Sons' Co., earned his degree in civil engineering from OSU in 1963, and he serves on The Campaign for OSU steering committee. Connie Kearney, a member of the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees executive committee, began higher education at OSU before earning undergraduate and law degrees at other institutions.

The donor of the second gift to qualify for the Provost's Faculty Match, Thomas W. Toomey, is also an OSU Foundation trustee. A 1982 OSU graduate, he is the president and chief executive officer of UDR, Inc., an S&P 400 company that owns and manages more than 53,000 apartment homes in targeted markets in the United States. Three years ago Toomey made a $1 million gift to establish an endowed professorship and expand an endowed scholarship in honor of his former accounting professor, Mary Ellen Phillips. He has also committed $500,000 to help construct a new building for the College of Business.

The Provost's Faculty Match program supports a central goal of The Campaign for OSU, the university's first comprehensive fundraising effort. During the campaign to date, alumni and friends have contributed more than $60 million to support faculty, creating 32 endowed faculty positions out of OSU's total of 78. Details of the matching program can be found at .

Guided by OSU's strategic plan, The Campaign for OSU seeks $625 million to provide opportunities for students, strengthen the Oregon economy and conduct research that changes the world. Approximately $620 million has been committed to date from more than 53,000 donors.


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Molly Brown, 541-737-3602