Dear University of Oregon community members,
In October 2014, before my arrival on the UO campus, the university announced what was then an audacious goal of raising $2 billion to strengthen this institution in ways never before considered. It has been an honor to work alongside so many of you toward this unprecedented goal. Thanks to the incredible generosity of our alumni and friends, we have reached $1.87 billion and will, at some point over the next year, cross that $2 billion threshold. It has been a massive undertaking that has transformed this campus in amazing ways and created new opportunities for Oregonians. I am deeply grateful to the more than 95,000 donors who have contributed to the campaign.
However, we are already looking ahead. Borrowing a metaphor from our track and field heritage, we intend to sprint through the tape and keep going. As Bill Bowerman once said, “There is no finish line.” In that spirit, I am pleased to announce that the UO will extend our fundraising campaign by adding $1 billion to our goal.
Why are we extending the campaign instead of declaring victory? Simply put, each one of you has helped put the University of Oregon in a position where we enjoy incredible upward, positive momentum. As with all great universities, as we make progress we also see more opportunity. What once seemed unattainable is now within our grasp. Our donors have told us they are ready and willing for even more success. We want to harness this energy and raise the resources that will enable us to be among the very best institutions of higher learning in the nation.
The first focus of this campaign extension is fundraising hundreds of millions of dollars to secure access and success for students of all backgrounds.Over the past several months we engaged in strategic planning with deans, faculty, and other campus stakeholders to identify priorities, pockets of opportunity, and aspirational goals. Those conversations guided the creation of new fundraising targets, each grounded in our mission to be a great research institution that is committed to the success of our students. Here are some examples of what we will be asking our alumni and friends to support:
We will raise millions of dollars in sustaining support for PathwayOregon—a groundbreaking program celebrating its tenth year—that provides free tuition and fees for qualifying Federal Pell Grant-eligible Oregon residents. More than 5,000 students—over half of them first-generation college students and a large percentage of underrepresented students—have benefited from this program in the last decade, and we want to double, perhaps even triple, the PathwayOregon endowment to make it self-sustaining in perpetuity.
We will seek significant new resources for merit-based scholarships such as the Presidential Scholarship program, which awards up to $9,000 per year to high-achieving Oregon students.
To attract the best and brightest young scholars, we will seek additional scholarship support and prioritize reducing the higher differential tuition for the Robert D. Clark Honors College, which is ranked among the top 10 public honors colleges in the country.
The UO has always been a place that supports Dreamers and DACA students, many of whom are in this country and undocumented through no fault of their own, and whom do not qualify for federal aid. While the UO currently provides a track for these students to attend college, we will raise funds to reduce the cost of attendance for these amazing students, who deserve access to the same opportunities as their peers.
We will boost financial support for pipeline programs—such as the Summer Academy to Inspire Learning and Oregon Young Scholars—that demonstrate to young people throughout the state and nation that college education is within their reach.
We will help our students graduate on time and find jobs that will enable them to achieve their dreams. We will raise funds to support the expansion of advising and employment programs in our new Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, with its emphasis on college and careers.
We will partner with donors to invest in experiential education programs to give undergraduate students hands-on learning and research opportunities that position them to quickly move into the job market.
We also want to build campus resources that optimize the learning experience to ensure that the next generation of UO students have the types of facilities and classrooms that will enable them to discover and grow. Our plan is to seek funds for a new 60,000-square-foot classroom and faculty office building tentatively earmarked for environmental and sustainability programming. In addition, we will raise money to complete the Black Cultural Center, which will break ground this fall, and ensure that we have the resources to support long-term staffing and programming in the new building.
But scholarships, advisors, pipeline programs, and new buildings are meaningless if they are not undergirded by world-class academic programs and faculty. We are fortunate that we have a strong academic foundation across campus. We want to further strengthen research by amassing resources for the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact and the new Presidential Science Initiative. This science initiative focuses on improving human life through the science of brains and behavior (neuroscience), chemical building blocks (material science), understanding and extracting knowledge (data science), and health and wellbeing (microbiome science).
We also will work with our faculty in the humanities and social sciences to identify interdisciplinary programs that could make enormous contributions to the state of humanistic knowledge. These efforts will magnify those of our deans to fundraise for faculty support and research facilities within their schools and colleges.
Our deans and campus leaders have worked hard to develop new fundraising priorities and goals in each of their units to take full advantage of the momentum of this campaign extension. I look forward to working with them and their many volunteers in achieving new levels of philanthropic support for their individual programs. As part of this work, we must achieve the goals of this campaign extension using existing resources. Last week, Vice President for Advancement Michael Andreasen unveiled a plan to reorganize development functions so that our limited personnel are assigned to support the areas that require the most effort.
New teams of central fundraisers will focus on access and student success, our classroom building and associated environmental research projects, and science initiatives.
The University of Oregon is at an inflection point. We are bending the arc of progress northward toward new levels of academic and reputational excellence. Extending the campaign by $1 billion is an important way to leverage the creativity, curiosity, talent, and innovation of our faculty, staff, and students across this campus in transformational ways; to send the message that we are bold, independent innovators who will not be defined by our history or preconceived notions of what it means to be a public university. This campaign extension is about engaging our exceptional faculty in further pursuit of academic excellence, providing new ways for our generous alumni, donors, and friends to support this amazing university, and telling the next generation of UO students that we are committed to giving them all the tools they need to be extraordinary.
I am excited to work with all of you to make these dreams a reality.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law