UO Alumni Center sucks money from real UO

7/14/2010: Inside Oregon has a puff piece on the new Alumni Center:

The final beams and superstructure of the Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn Ford Alumni Center were set in place recently by construction crews. … The four-story, 60,000-square-foot center — being built just west of the Matthew Knight Arena — is scheduled for construction next May. The $32.5 million project is being paid for with private gifts and state bonds. … The building will also unite the UO Alumni Association, Office of Development and University of Oregon Foundation staff under one roof. … Private gifts will pay for $22.75 million of the construction costs, and $9.75 million will be funded with state bonds. The university is continuing to raise $2.5 million for the project.

How did UO decide that the best use of $32.5 million in state money and donations from loyal alumni was a palace for the UO Foundation and the Development office, with fireplace and interactive video panels, instead of classrooms, faculty offices, labs? I’m guessing that the Foundation and Development office had a little input!

When loyal UO donors ask where their money is most needed, they are now told that the number one and two priorities are the “Athletic Legacy Fund” and this palace. People who would happily have given to academic causes are not told about needs for departments, classrooms, chairs, scholarships, etc. Instead they are told that their gift can buy a named conference room in the Alumni Center.

So far as I can tell, the faculty has no real input into deciding the prioritization lists of the Development office. Does anyone know differently?

Update: a reader writes in the comments:

I suppose UO Matters doesn’t remember the Campaign for Oregon – when Dept heads and Deans spent a lot of time assembling projects and proposals for donations. These were used in the campaign for Oregon. But who chose what to pitch? I think that is the core of the problem. In the end, academics got about half of the funds raised. The other half? Athletics.

And another:

This is an example of Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

And a rebuttal from “alumni and staff member”

In regards to the Alumni Center and Campaign Oregon, I’d like to say that without the work of Development Officers and the commitment and generosity of UO alumni and donors, we’d be unable to support many student scholarships and programs on campus. With an Alumni Center (we’re the only school in the pac 10 without one), the UO will only be able to raise MORE money for scholarships and important academic programs. http://giving.uoregon.edu/why-give

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