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UO gets $10 million for education building.

Byline: Greg Bolt The Register-Guard

A private foundation has pledged $10 million toward the construction of a 100,000-square-foot building for the University of Oregon College of Education, the largest gift in the college's history and the lead donation for a project expected to top $40 million.

The donation comes from the California-based HEDCO Foundation, whose president and director is a College of Education graduate. Its announcement on Tuesday kicked off the public phase of a fund-raising campaign that university officials hope will raise up to $25 million and garner a matching amount from the state Legislature.

UO President Dave Frohnmayer called it a "fantastically generous gift" and said it will help the college build on its reputation as one of the nation's leading sources of education research and a key resource for school districts statewide.

"This is a happy day for the University of Oregon and a happy day for the College of Education to recognize that private philanthropy such as this exists," he said.

UO officials hope to break ground for the new building by the 2006-07 academic year, but that schedule depends on future fund raising. Frohnmayer indicated that the project, which also includes renovation of the college's existing buildings, could be tackled in phases.

Although the College of Education is the highest-ranked program at the UO and its faculty regularly attracts more research dollars than any other education college in the nation, it operates in some of the most outdated quarters on campus. Programs are scattered in 21 different locations on and off campus, including four double-wide trailers purchased as temporary quarters in the 1960s and still in use.

The main Education Building was built in 1921 and even with an addition in 1980 is too cramped for a program that has tripled its enrollment in the past decade. The Clinical Services Building, constructed in 1967, also is crowded and outdated, education Dean Martin Kaufman said.

"In the end, the buildings are an impediment and you achieve excellence in spite of them," he said. "But we can do better. We're not close to realizing our potential."

The new building would be located on what is now a parking lot facing Alder Street near East 18th Avenue. Once built, it would act as a link between the Education and Clinical Services buildings.

Among the features planned for the new hall are specialized teaching rooms for training new teachers, space for clinics in communication disorders, family therapy and counseling and space for research centers and faculty offices. The current plan also calls for underground parking to replace the lost spaces.

Although the school is called the College of Education, its mission is far-flung. In addition to the five-year teacher preparation program, the college also offers training and conducts research in education leadership, special education, communication disorders and human services and counseling psychology.

Locally, the EC Cares program helps more than 1,000 children with special needs, the talented and gifted program provides enrichment for 3,500 local schoolchildren, the communications disorders program helps children and adults with speech and hearing problems and students and faculty contribute tens of thousands of hours to county residents and dozens of human service agencies.

Nationally, the college is ranked No. 2 among public universities, its special education program is ranked No. 3 and its faculty brings in more federal research money per capita than any other college of education. They attracted $23 million last year, accounting for almost 30 percent of the total research funding received by the UO.

But Kaufman said the school can do more. He said teaching in the existing facilities is like trying to train physicians without giving them access to any of the recent advances in medicine.

"Basically, we know more than we can do," he said, adding that the new building "will leapfrog us several generations of practice ahead."

Raising the money needed for that advance will be a challenge, given the economy and the nature of the project. Unlike the recently completed Lillis Business Complex, the College of Education doesn't have a built-in reservoir of successful alumni to draw on.

Fund-raisers hope the HEDCO donation inspires others who care about education to step forward and support the project. The foundation is run by Dorothy Jernstedt, who earned both a bachelor's and master's degree from the College of Education.

The foundation, based in the Northern California town of Lafayette, is a closely held private organization. It supports projects that advance science and medical research, address social welfare and further building projects among other causes.

"The goal of the HEDCO Foundation is to help an organization advance, to be on the cutting edge of change, so that the gift does more than sustain a status quo," Kaufman said.

Jernstedt could not be reached, but in a statement released by the university she said the gift was made with the hope it would spark others to contribute. In addition to being a UO graduate, Jernstedt is a former trustee of the University of Oregon Foundation.


An artist's drawing shows the 100,000-square-foot building planned by the University of Oregon College of Education, which received a $10 million private donation. "In the end, the buildings are an impediment and you achieve excellence in spite of them," MARTIN KAUFMAN UO EDUCATION DEAN
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Title Annotation:Higher Education; The grant from a private foundation kicks off a drive to raise the rest of the $40 million for the project
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 10, 2004
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