PORTLAND - The anonymous donor who gave Oregon State University $20 million more than a year ago - one of the largest gifts in the school's history - was identified today at a conference in Portland and said he hopes that "others will be inspired" to foll ow his lead and support OSU's campaign to build its College of Engineering into one of the nation's best.

Martin N. Kelley, a 1950 OSU civil engineering graduate and retired vice president and chief engineer of Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc., one of the nation's largest construction companies, was moved to contribute the $20 million toward construction of a new eng ineering building after hearing OSU College of Engineering Dean Ron Adams present his vision for building a top-tier engineering school by 2010.

"I listened to Ron Adams articulate what it would take to move the college up to one of the top 25, and I was very pleased and impressed with what he had to say," Kelley said. "The more he refined the idea, the more I thought he would be able to do it. I like someone who is very visionary and strives to build and improve things, and Ron is all of that."

Kelley said he then asked Adams what would be the single most important component in building a top-ranked engineering program at OSU, and Adams responded that the key was attracting outstanding people - faculty, students and staff.

"I entirely agreed with that," Kelley said. "But they needed a place to put all these new people, the top professors and outstanding students. So I thought if they could kick off the campaign with a new building, that would be a tremendous boost to get th ings started and a good lead to inspire others to support the top-25 effort at Oregon State."

That is just what Kelley's gift has done, Adams said.

"Martin Kelley is a very high integrity individual," Adams said. "His gift launched the top-25 drive and sent a powerful message to the public and to OSU engineering faculty and staff that this endeavor is something people will invest in, that it's defini tely going to happen."

Adams also said that establishing a top-ranked engineering program at OSU will have a "very positive" impact on Oregon's future.

"Already, we are developing the talented people and innovative ideas that will power and diversify the economy of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and the world," Adams said. "This new building is going to be truly remarkable. And it's just the beginning of things to come."

Kelley's gift, along with $20 million in public funding authorized by the state legislature, will help build a new, 146,000-square-foot "green" engineering building at the center of campus. Construction begins this summer.

The four-story structure, to be called the Kelley Engineering Center, is considered the crown jewel of the university's top-25 drive, and will include enough "green" building features to be certified as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Desig n) silver structure, one of the first in the Oregon University System.

"Green" design elements of the new building include a large glass atrium to facilitate natural daylighting and ventilation to interior work spaces; a courtyard water feature that will replace the traditional rooftop cooling tower and also channel rainwate r into bio-planters that "recycle" the runoff; low-toxicity finishes and flooring; a planted eco-roof that will retain rainwater and serve as an outdoor classroom and gathering area; and showers, lockers and covered parking for bicycle commuters.

When it opens in fall 2004, the Kelley Engineering Center will house the rapidly growing departments of computer science and electrical and computer engineering, providing labs, classrooms, and offices for more than 360 professors and graduate students.

In an unusual coincidence, the new building will be built a few feet from where the childhood home of Kelley's first wife once stood. Lora Laslett Kelley, whose father taught at OSU, was a student at the university when Martin Kelley met her. The two were married for 43 years before her death in 1993. In 1994 Kelley married Judith Carlson.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for May 30. Kelley said he waited to identify himself as the anonymous donor until the new building project was beginning to take shape and people could see a physical manifestation of the top-25 drive and be inspire d to get behind it.

"As people see this new building begin to go up, they're going to say, 'Wow, this top-25 engineering school at Oregon State is really going to happen,'" Kelley said. "The building is going to create some real momentum."

Creating a top-25 engineering program at OSU presents a "very big challenge" for all Oregonians, Kelley said, but it is a "very doable, very worthwhile" goal because engineering of all kinds provides solutions to some of the world's most complex problems.

"Building a top engineering program will not only help Oregon State, but it will also help the state of Oregon and the world," Kelley said. "It's very worthwhile all the way around."

During a civil engineering career that spanned more than 40 years, Kelley played key roles in some of the world's largest and most complex engineering projects, from Oregon's Detroit Dam and the San Francisco Trans-Bay Tube and Tunnel Project, to the Dani sh Great Belt Crossing off the coast of Denmark and New York City's 63rd Street Tube and Tunnel Project.

So it seems fitting that Kelley, 74, is now playing a key role in building something much closer to his heart in Oregon - the college that launched his remarkable career as one of the most celebrated civil engineers in history. Kelly has received the two highest engineering honors given in this country - the 1988 Golden Beaver Award for Outstanding Achievement in Heavy Engineering Construction and the 1999 Moles Members Award. He is only the second engineer in history to have earned both awards.

Born Jan. 1, 1928, in New York City, Kelley grew up in Pasadena, Calif., one of three sons in a family where responsibility, independence, and a strong work ethic were stressed in a phrase he often heard his father say: "Fish, cut bait, or get off the doc k."

This emphasis on independence was one of the main reasons that in 1945 Kelley chose to study civil engineering at OSU, then known as Oregon State College.

"Oregon State was a good school," Kelley said. "And it was far enough away from home that I felt like I was out on my own and growing up. We were taught to get out and support ourselves, so even as a college student I wanted to feel like I was on my own. Oregon State was just right."

Kelley's decision to study at OSU, and his successful 40-year engineering career at Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc., has benefited his alma mater in many ways.

In 1990, he made a $5 million gift to OSU, at that time the largest single gift ever made to the un iversity by an individual alumnus. He is past president and chairman of the board of the OSU Foundation and serves as a trustee. He is also a member of the OSU College of Engineering Advisory Board.

Since retiring in 1991, he has served on the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, the Legacy Finance Committee, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium board and executive committee. He is a former member of the Portland Opera board and in 1995 received that group's Aubrey Morgan Award for outstanding volunteer service.

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Ron Adams, 541-737-3101