The Oregonian’s Andrew Theen has a long piece on the results so far from the legislature’s decision to breakup George Pernsteiner’s OUS empire. Worth reading it all. He notes the record $665M in state funding this biennium. Here’s his take on UO:
In retrospect, everyone agrees the old Oregon University System’s death sentence began when the State Board of Education fired then-UO president Richard Lariviere in November 2011.
… Chuck Lillis, who now chairs the UO’s Board of Trustees, said a cadre of powerful donors and supporters were not pleased that such a well-liked administrator was fired by the statewide board so precipitously. Lillis and a crew of about 10-12 supporters “pushed pretty hard” for independence at that point.
Kenton said UO has always wanted out of the university system, figuring it had been held back for decades by the state, and could do better and raise more money on its own. Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Kenton said, “also had some influence.”
… Lillis said that when UO went public with its $2 billion capital campaign in October 2014, it was “symbolic of the confidence we have in the university.”
The university expects to hit the halfway point on that campaign soon, but a massive gift from Knight or another high-profile donor hasn’t yet arrived.
“I’m certainly aware of the discussion, and the questions and the anxiety,” Lillis said of the chatter from outsiders asking where UO’s signature gift is now that the school has its own board.
Lillis, a prominent donor whose name is on the university’s business school building, said big gifts are personal.
Donors choose areas of the university they feel most passionate about about. “When and if they make those gifts is just not related to the governance issue now,” Lillis said.