Retired businessman Lorry Lokey has given a $74.5 million gift to the University of Oregon, with most of the money going toward the sciences.
The sciences will get $62 million to recruit graduate students, hire and retain top faculty, build and renovate facilities, improve the science library and provide other support.
“It is an extraordinary act of philanthropy that will transform the university,” Allan Price, the university’s vice president for advancement, said Monday.
And the philanthropist did not even attend Oregon. A Portland native, Lokey grew up and attended schools there before seeking a journalism degree at Stanford. But a personal visit by Price and UO President Dave Frohnmayer sparked a relationship that led to the donations.
Lokey, 80, who founded the Business Wire media relations company, made his first gift to the UO less than three years ago, beginning a splurge that has now brought almost $132 million to the university.
That includes a $10.4 million gift earlier this year to create a new Faculty Excellence Awards program aimed at retaining professors who are being recruited by other universities. The gift, which already has helped the university keep 20 faculty members, had been announced as being from an anonymous donor.
Lokey’s new gift is the second-largest in university history, trailing only the recent $100 million contribution to athletics from Phil and Penny Knight.
The UO is one of four institutions the others are Stanford and two schools in Israel where Lokey has directed the bulk of his philanthropy.
Lokey said Monday that science is the future and he is particularly interested in research that improves the human condition. His recent gifts to Stanford have focused on stem cell research; his gift to the UO will benefit research in life sciences, neuroscience, human performance and sustainable nanotechnology, among other areas.
“All this points to creating a better life for people,” Lokey said.
The massive gift comes at a time when some faculty members have criticized the university, saying it hasn’t done enough to bring the same level of donations to academics as has been seen in athletics.
Price said Lokey’s gift shows otherwise.
“It certainly shows that people invest where their passion is,” he said. “I think what this gift also shows is there is balance.”
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