100 “Ducks” who made a difference

From the Oregon Quarterly. Subscribe to OQ

Paula Gunn Allen
The Native American poet and scholar wrote award-winning novels and inspired a generation of feminist writers.

Aisha Almana
The hospital executive’s vision and generosity is creating opportunities for women through the UO Global Health program.

Corazón Aquino
HONORARY PHD ’95, D. 2009
The first female president of the Philippines, she restored democracy after the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. She gave the UO commencement address in 1995; a tree planted in her honor can be viewed at the west entrance to campus.

Geoffrey Ball
Deaf since age three, he eventually solved his impairment by inventing innovative middle-ear implants and now holds more than 100 patents.

Emery Barnes
BS ’54 HISTORY, D. 1998
In 1994, he became the first African American and first black person to be speaker of the British Columbia legislature and the first black person to hold this position in a Canadian provincial legislature.

Derrick Bell Jr.
DEAN OF LAW SCHOOL 1980-85, D. 2011
The law school’s first African American dean wrote extensively about race and challenged academic institutions to commit to diversity.

Therese Bottomly

As a manager and now top editor at the Oregonian, Therese Bottomly (BA ’83, journalism) has had a hand in grooming a generation of journalists and in Pulitzer Prize-winning stories— including the fascinating journey of a French fry from farmland to fast-food delicacy. As the internet threatens to stamp out newspapers, Bottomly is leading the Oregonian’s transformation to a digital-first newsroom, a capstone accomplishment in a 35-year tenure at the newspaper. Along the way, she has also fought to protect public access to government records in board positions with Open Oregon and the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. “She’s got the editing of a surgeon, the mind of an attorney, and the soul of a philosopher,” says Tom Hallman, an Oregonian colleague. Bottomly adds: “I would not have had the career I have had without people at UO looking out for me.”

Paul Brainerd
As founder and president of Aldus and the inventor of PageMaker, he revolutionized desktop publishing.

John Branam
JD ’04
He improves outcomes for kids—especially for students of color and those from low-income families—by helping increase success in high school and access to college, formerly as executive director of the 1Million Project, and now in that position with Get Schooled.

Walter Brattain
MA ’26 PHYSICS, D. 1987
He shared the 1956 Nobel for work on the transistor, a fundamental building block of electronic devices.

Anetra Brown
A former hurdler on the UO track team, the specialist in inclusion and diversity is an alumni leader and Black Women of Achievement honoree.

Julia Burgess
A longtime UO English professor, she made a gift of manuscripts to UO Libraries in 1935 that is the foundation of our rare books collection.

Allan Burns
The screenwriter/TV producer can be credited for The Rocky and Bullwinkle ShowDudley Do-Right, the Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda shows—and Quaker Oats’ Cap’n Crunch character.

Peter Buxtun
This whistleblower’s revelations about the US Public Health Service’s exploitation of black men with syphilis in Tuskegee, Alabama, triggered lasting protections for the subjects of medical research.

Mabel Byrd 1895-1988

When Mabel Byrd enrolled in 1917 she was not only the UO’s first African American student but also the only black person in Eugene. She wasn’t allowed to live on campus, so she roomed in the house of a history professor while studying economics for two years.

She knew something about racism.

Drawing on her experience here and her passion for equality, Byrd, who later transferred and graduated from the University of Washington, became a leader in the civil rights movement. She collaborated with sociologist W. E. B. DuBois and worked with President Franklin Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act programs, supervising the implementation of codes designed to ensure equal pay, working conditions, and employment opportunities for African Americans.

As a research assistant at Fisk University in Nashville, Byrd investigated conditions in segregated schools. While there, she risked her position by confronting the university president at a public meeting, demanding to know why all the freshman advisors were white. In a question that echoed her own housing experience at the UO, she asked why the university had “built new houses for white faculty while asking black professors to live in dormitories with students.”

Rosa Chavez-Jacuinde
The associate director of the UO Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence was a 2018 MLK Award recipient for her work with the Dreamer community and others.

Edwin Coleman Jr.
Cherishing his doctorate, this faculty member, civil rights activist, and jazz musician was a mentor for students of color.

Maribeth Collins
BA ’40 ENGLISH, D. 2017
Enrolled at 15, she eventually presided over her family’s lumber business and charitable foundation, improving lives across Oregon.

Roberta Conner
A revered Native American leader, she is a keeper of tribal histories and was board chair for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Amy Cordalis
One of the nation’s few indigenous tribal lawyers, she represents the Yurok tribe in removing dams to revive salmon runs on the Klamath River.

Nadia Dahab

This year Nadia Dahab is among “Forty Under 40,” the Portland Business Journal’s list of young professionals touting promise and achievements.

Recipient of the law school’s 2018 Outstanding Young Alumni Award and a committed pro bono attorney, Dahab (JD ‘12) helped win the freedom of asylum-seeking immigrants who had been detained at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon.

In May 2018, the federal government transferred 124 asylum-seeking men to Sheridan, where they were detained without access to courts or counsel.

Dahab, as co-counsel with the ACLU of Oregon, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Innovation Law Lab, a nonprofit organization dedicated to upholding the rights of immigrants and refugees; they sought access to, and eventually the release of, each of the immigrant men. On release, the men are now freely pursuing their asylum claims in immigration court.

Dahab has worked on several pro bono matters, individually and in collaboration with the Innovation Law Lab. In her practice, she focuses on complex litigation, both at trial and on appeal.

Precious Alex de Verteuil
She created a mentorship program for undergraduate students of color and helps underrepresented students discover science.

Julia Demichelis
The community development specialist transforms war-torn villages into habitable communities.

Skye Fitzgerald
His short documentary, Lifeboat, earned a 2019 Oscar nomination and he continues to raise awareness of complex issues of human rights and social justice.

Rachel Elizabeth Formosa
She began her science career in water quality testing in Oregon and is now a trailblazing marketing executive with a DNA-focused biotechnology company.

Nellie Franklin
BA ’32 MUSIC, D. EARLY 1980s
The first African American woman to graduate from the UO led the way for black women to join sororities.

Justin Gallegos
Cerebral palsy doesn’t slow him down. He signed with Nike, ran a half-marathon in just under two hours, and inspires countless by his example.

Tony Glausi
The virtuoso trumpet player and educator serves as an ambassador to music for middle and high school students, and as a recording and touring performer who builds bridges across genres.

Harry Glickman
There’s no “Rip City” without him. A founder of the Portland Trail Blazers, he’s in the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, the Hall of Achievement in the School of Journalism and Communication, and is a winner of the Pioneer Award.

Mary Brennan Goldring
She’s a world expert on cartilage biology and molecular biology, creating breakthroughs in the understanding of arthritis.

Edith Green
BS ’40 EDUCATION, D. 1987
The second Oregon woman elected to the US House was one of the leaders of Title IX: in 1972 she helped create the landmark legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational institutions.

Paul Griffitts

A life in dots and fractals.

Since graduating from the UO in 1976 with a bachelor of arts in contemporary world literature, Paul Griffitts has introduced literature to thousands of people with visual impairment, as a transcriber of braille. And with his mesmerizing fractal art, he has touched thousands more who can see.

The artist builds on tiny “self-similar” patterns known as fractals to create complex, colorful, 3-D images. Griffitts describes his work as the intersection of his lifelong fascination with science and art.

In his long career, Griffitts has worked on everything from the Bible to the Kama Sutra.

In a way, says friend Michael Leary, “this work complements the other: braille brings the visual world to the blind, and fractal art brings the unseen to the sighted.”

Annika Gustafsson
As a senior, she investigated a potential binary black hole system, helping shed light on the subject.

Nils Hakansson
The influential financial scholar and economist served on the faculty of UC Berkeley, UCLA, and Yale.

Ray Hawk 1918-2006

Befitting a man who “bled green and yellow,” Ray Hawk was a lifelong Duck.

Touting three UO degrees—BS ’47 and MS ’48, both in history, and a PhD ’49 in education—he served for more than 30 years as dean of men and vice president for administration and finance.

As dean, Hawk once disciplined students involved in a “panty raid” at a women’s dorm. One of the students—who became an administrator in the athletic department—recalled him fondly, thankful for not being suspended, says Ron Hawk, Hawk’s son.

During tumultuous 1969, Hawk was interim president, negotiating the rapids of Vietnam War protests, including personal threats. Today his contributions are remembered with the Ray Hawk Award, given annually to a senior who “exemplifies the essential qualities of leadership in university life and promise of later leadership as a citizen.”

Just as fitting are the words of that grateful student whose misbehavior Hawk addressed without excessive sanctions. “He called my dad ‘a true legend at the UO,’” Hawk says.

Jill Hazelbaker
A communications wizard, she’s held senior positions with Google, Uber, and John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Hilda Heine
The first female president of the Marshall Islands is a leader on climate change and gender equality.

Kerry Heinrich
JD ’83
As CEO of Loma Linda University Health hospitals, he manages daily operations of six hospitals in Southern California and oversaw the response for care of victims of the San Bernardino mass shooting in 2015.

George Hitchcock
BA ’35 ENGLISH, D. 2010
An actor, poet, playwright, teacher, and painter, he published the poetry magazine Kayak, featuring early work by Raymond Carver and others, and was a major influencer and mentor in poetry and publishing for more than 40 years.

Melissa Ibarra
The Eugene principal formerly started and taught Spanish immersion in the Springfield School District.

Valerie Ifill
Drexel University’s dance program director combines dance and community. She founded a program in West Philly, taught classes to university students together with incarcerated people, and brought free interactive dance assemblies to elementary schools.

Inaugural Board of Trustees
Beginning July 1, 2014, and chaired by Chuck Lillis (PHD ’72, marketing), the UO’s first 15-member governing body provided stability in a pivotal, transitional period.

James Ivory
A 2018 Oscar winner for the film Call Me By Your Name, Ivory is the creator of genre-defining, literate dramas set in India, France, the US, and Great Britain, where he made A Room With a View, based on the novel by E. M. Forster set in Italy and Edwardian England, which was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture. He is cofounder of Merchant Ivory Productions, one of the most prominent independent arthouse production companies in world cinema.

Tom Jernstedt
Former Ducks quarterback was a longtime NCAA basketball administrator and is “Father of the Final Four” and March Madness.

Johnpaul Jones
BARC ’67
Known for environmentally sensitive architecture, this holder of a 2013 National Humanities Medal conferred by President Barack Obama revolutionized zoo design and designed the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Mustafa Kasubhai
JD ’96
A first-generation American of Indian descent, he’s the first Muslim American seated on a US federal court, presiding over civil litigation and other matters.

Helen Kitchen
BA ’42 JOURNALISM, D. 2010
The Oregon Daily Emerald’s first female editor was considered one of the United States’ most respected and widely published writers on African affairs.

Johanna Larson

Many recognize the “O” hand sign as a symbol of the Ducks of Oregon. But in sign language, sloppy execution of the gesture can suggest altogether different meanings.

That’s one of the sensitivities Jo Larson handled gracefully during 23 years teaching American Sign Language to hundreds of students with and without hearing impairment. Thanks to her advocacy, course offerings have grown from one elective to 21 classes and the recognition that ASL fulfills the language requirement.

Growing up with deaf parents inspired Larson’s interest in and advocacy for ASL.

“When I moved up to Oregon I was at first stunned by the lack of community and the fact that we didn’t have services for deaf persons and therefore there wasn’t access on the same scale I was accustomed to,” says Larson, who retired in June. “That led me to do a variety of social movements.”

Ellis F. Lawrence
The outstanding teacher, leader, and nationally respected architect served as dean for 32 years from the founding of the College of Design, originally known as the School of Architecture and Fine Arts, in 1914.

Ron Lee
When Mac Court roared in the mid-1970s, he was probably on the floor. Fans revered one of “the Kamikaze Kids” for his all-out hustle.

Chang-Rae Lee
Critics and enthusiasts of literary fiction love his exploration of issues central to the Asian American experience. The award-winning Korean American novelist was also a UO professor.

Kristin Skogen Lund

Named one of Fortune magazine’s 50 most powerful women in business in 2011, Kristin Skogen Lund launched her media career with a bachelor of arts in international studies in 1989.

As executive vice president at Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor, she oversaw businesses with $9.5 billion in revenue. Following several high-profile jobs in Europe, Skogen Lund last year became CEO of Schibsted Media Group in Norway, one of the world’s leading online classified ads businesses with 8,000 employees in 22 countries.

Lund, a native of Oslo, chose the UO due to a scholarship. “Motivating professors who cheered me on, frequent feedback, and good initial results made me dare to be more ambitious,” she says. “The years at the UO certainly shaped me and I will always think of that time with great joy and gratitude.”

Jess Markt
At age 19, he was in a car accident that cut short his high jump career and left him a paraplegic. With the International Committee of the Red Cross, he brings wheelchair basketball to people with physical disabilities in war zones including Afghanistan and Syria, restoring hope and purpose.

Michael McHugh

Beyond his stellar reputation as an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mike McHugh has impressed colleagues and friends with his empathy—and his colorful wardrobe.

After graduating from the UO in 1980 with a bachelor of science in general science, McHugh attended Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 1990, he was called into service as a US Navy surgeon in support of Operation Desert Storm. Eventually he decided to continue his service to retired military personnel as a surgeon in the Veterans Administration. In 2000, he began as one of two surgeons caring for a patient base normally cared for by 10 surgeons.

David Boone, whose 46-year friendship with McHugh started with a shared dorm room in Hamilton Hall, says McHugh’s “long list of accomplishments pale in comparison to his grace, gratitude toward others, determination, integrity, honor, and courage, that have served him throughout his career.”

The UO connection stays with him. McHugh wears Oregon’s colors frequently—he’s unmistakable in fluorescent green and yellow.

Miguel McKelvey
BARC ’99
He studied architecture and played Ducks basketball, then cofounded the We Company. It began as WeWork, a shared workspace company with one office; now there are locations in 30 countries and the company is changing how people work, live, and grow, worldwide.

Serena Morones
As operator of a successful forensic accounting and business valuation firm, she was a pivotal expert in cases such as the landmark sexual abuse case against the Boy Scouts and Oregon vs. Philip Morris.

William Murphy
BA ’14 BIOLOGY, D. 1987
Without his Nobel Prize-winning work with others in 1934, pernicious anemia might have remained a terminal condition.

Maurine Neuberger
BA ’29 EDUCATION, D. 2000
The only woman from Oregon elected to the US Senate, she advocated for consumer and health issues and sponsored one of the first bills requiring warning labels on cigarettes.

Haloti Ngata

When Haloti Ngata stepped away from his epic football career this year, he announced it by climbing to the summit of 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro and tweeting his decision: “I’m retiring from the NFL on top.” A five-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl XLVII champion, during his 13 seasons in the NFL, the sociology major and 2006 alumnus was a record-breaking defensive tackle. This giant of a man, towering above six feet and weighing 340 pounds, could bench press 495 pounds.

Ngata, of Tongan ancestry, struggled at Highland High School in Salt Lake City and repeatedly failed to secure a qualifying score on the ACT. His mother, Ofa, stepped in and started a program to provide her son and other students like him with free ACT and SAT test preparation classes.

With that help, Ngata passed the test and signed with the Ducks.

Now, through the Haloti Ngata Family Foundation, Ngata and his wife, Christina, provide the same preparation classes to students who, like Ngata, face significant obstacles getting into college. The foundation fully funds these preparation programs in high schools throughout the country. In just five years, the foundation has helped thousands of students.

“It all came back full circle,” Ngata says. “My mom helped me and now my wife and I are privileged to help students who are in the same situation I found myself in. The more money we can raise, the more students we can help achieve their dream of attending college.”

Gina Nikkel
This proponent of discoveries in mental health and better, safer mental health practices also cofounded the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care.

Aaron Novick
Yes, he helped build the atomic bomb, but this noted student of bacterial gene expression became an outspoken advocate of nuclear disarmament.

Lisa Nye
The All-American and Academic All-American cross country star won the 2001 US steeplechase. At Bend High School, she’s a teacher, motivator, and head coach for 150 students running cross country and 135 in track.

Jon Patterson
JD ’13
This winner of the Oregon Law Minoru Yasui Justice Award is the national director of diversity, equity, inclusion, and human resources for Compassion and Choices, dedicated to end-of-life care.

Michael Posner
Posner has been at Oregon since 1965 and has contributed to our understanding of attention and child development.

Rita Radostitz
She zealously defends the Constitution and humanity by representing those facing capital punishment.

James Otis Reed
BS ’36 PSYCHOLOGY, D. 1942
The star swimmer was one of Oregon’s first ocean rescue swimmers and a military hero who died test flying a World War II fighter.

Helmuth Rilling
Cofounder of the festival with faculty member Royce Saltzman, he expanded our appreciation of Bach’s music with deeply personal insights and performances, shared in ways that inspired audiences, musicians, donors, and the community.

Betty Roberts
The Oregon lawmaker chaired the committee for the Bottle Bill and as the first woman on the state Supreme Court wrote the opinion that recognized the equal rights clause in the state Constitution.

Olivia Rodriguez
The sexual violence prevention and education coordinator at the UO Women’s Center leads Take Back the Night and advocates for women and people of all genders, especially minorities.

Geoffrey Roth
He served in the Obama administration and is the North American representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, fighting for the rights of American Indians and their health and education.

William Roth Jr.
As the legislative sponsor for what has become a popular individual retirement account, he lent his name to the Roth IRA during 34 years in Congress representing Delaware.

Zeina Salame

Removing metaphorical barriers on and off the stage, doctoral candidate Zeina Salame is the first student in UO theater arts to receive a prestigious research fellowship that pays for a year of work and writing.

Salame’s dissertation draws on her experience as an Arab American performer and director. Whether she’s updating and directing UO’s sold-out performances of the Broadway musical Avenue Q or teaching inspiring classes on the intersection of cultures, she turns students and colleagues into fans.

“Her contribution can be seen in the way she is teaching people how to dissolve boundaries, embrace the things that make us uncomfortable, and move forward with love for ourselves and the people we meet,” student Hope Gilbert says.

“Besides,” adds student Liana Hu, an Avenue Q production member, “she is just a badass and a joy to work and hang out with.”

Ralph Salisbury
When published by The New Yorker in 1960, he became one of the first Native American poets to receive national attention. His 11 books of poems, three of short fiction, and a prize-winning memoir reflected his Cherokee/Shawnee heritage, family history, pacifism, and a devotion to harmony with nature.

William Sherman Savage
MA ’25 HISTORY, D. 1980
The first African American to receive a UO master’s degree became a history professor at Lincoln University in Missouri, focusing on the role of African Americans in the development of the western United States.

Heidi Schreck
What the Constitution Means to Me, her partially autobiographical Broadway play, was a 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist, won an Obie Award for best new American play, and earned Tony award nominations this year for best play and best actress.

Mary Josephine Shelly
Modern dance got a lift thanks in part to college programs she helped start while at Bennington College in Vermont, including Bennington School of the Dance and the Bennington American Dance Festival.

Randy Shilts
One of America’s first openly gay journalists, he wrote a book—And the Band Played On—that changed the discussion about AIDS.

Becky Sisley
As a coach and UO’s only female athletic director, she was instrumental in the progress of women’s athletics nationwide.

Major General Tammy Smith

They didn’t ask, and she didn’t tell—not until it became legal for gay people to serve in the military. By then, Tammy Smith (BS ’86, history) was on her way to becoming an Army major general.

An average student but a strong leader, Smith launched her military career with an ROTC scholarship to the UO. She served in Afghanistan and received a Bronze Star Medal.

Less than a year after the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was repealed, Smith was promoted to brigadier general, becoming the first openly LGBT person to serve as a flag officer in the US military. Upon her promotion to major general she served in Korea as the Eighth Army deputy commanding general, the first woman to hold that post. She has only good things to say about her UO experience.

“The current ROTC program at the UO is amazing,” Smith says. “Oregon doesn’t have an Army base and we’re not a military state, so the program gives people a place to be connected, making Oregon’s ROTC particularly impressive.”

Ken Smith
The second Native American to graduate from the UO, President Reagan’s Assistant Interior Secretary-Indian Affairs launched programs including ones helping smaller tribes and Alaska communities develop administratively and providing, for all tribes, seed grants that stimulated new business and self-sustaining economic development.

Albert Starr
Dr. Starr arrived in 1957 to establish the open-heart surgery program at the medical school, now Oregon Health & Science University. He performed Oregon’s first pediatric open-heart surgery, the world’s first long-term successful artificial mitral valve implant, the world’s first triple-valve replacement, and Oregon’s first heart transplant.

William Sullivan
If you’ve hoisted a backpack or hiked a trail, you may owe something to the state’s leading author of outdoors guidebooks.

Alyce Sutko
She helped start medical brigades to Central America that serve communities while immersing medical students in hands-on work and new cultures.

Betty Gram Swing
ATTENDED 1912-13, D. 1969
A fighter for equality arrested and imprisoned for protesting, she was a suffragist and national organizer for the National Woman’s Party from 1917 to 1920.

Susan Sygall
The internationally recognized disability activist is a MacArthur Fellow and cofounder of Mobility International USA, which advances disability rights and leadership globally.

Brigadier General James B. Thayer
BS ’47 ECONOMICS, D. 2018
His son is lead guitarist for KISS, but Thayer’s own recognition is tied to his WWII platoon’s rescue of 15,000 Hungarian Jews, liberating them from a Nazi death camp.

Tiana Tozer

Her website tells Tiana Tozer’s story in eight words: “One car crash, two Paralympics, three war zones.”

The crash, when she was a college sophomore, left Tozer (BA ’90, Romance languages) without the use of her legs. Undeterred, she took up wheelchair basketball, made two USA Paralympic teams, worked in humanitarian aid in Iraq, and dedicated herself to raising awareness of disability issues.

Through her humanitarian program, Tozer taught disabled Iraqis how to advocate for themselves and 10,000 women learned to read and write. The university named her a 2010 outstanding young alumna.

After 35 surgeries and four years of rehabilitation, Tozer refers to herself as “the walking wounded.”

A self-described realistic optimist, she believes her scars may reveal where she has been, but they don’t define her—or where she is going.

Leona Tyler
A leader in counseling research, she taught for 25 years and was the UO’s first female graduate school dean, providing a model of achievement for women.

DeNorval Unthank Jr. 1929-2000

By the time Dunn Hall was renamed in his honor in 2017, DeNorval Unthank Jr. had designed himself quite a reputation as an architect.

The first African American graduate of the architecture school (BARC ’52) designed schools, banks, houses, medical clinics, and hospitals across the country and around the world. He left his mark in Eugene and on campus, as well—Unthank Jr. designed the Lane County Courthouse complex and UO’s McKenzie and Bean halls and taught in the architecture school from 1965 to 1982.

He was a partner at Wilmsen, Endicott, and Unthank architects and in 1968 cofounded the firm Unthank, Seder, and Poticha. As a designer, he carried himself with class—just as he had as a college student, overcoming fierce racist attacks for dating a white woman who later became his wife. Upon renaming Dunn Hall for Unthank Jr., UO president Michael Schill said it honors “achievement, tolerance, and equity.”

Raj Vable

Raj Vable’s passion for his parents’ homeland, community development, and white tea is bringing quality jobs to a remote region of India.

Vable, MS ’12 (environmental studies), launched Young Mountain Tea in 2013 while on a Fulbright Fellowship in the Kumaon region.

At the time he was working with Avani, a Himalayan nonprofit that converts dead pine needles to fuel, giving people an alternative to chopping down trees. Inspired by the region’s potential to produce teas on par with neighboring Darjeeling, Vable promised Avani if they would plant tea, he would buy their entire harvest; the partners received a grant to get started and Young Mountain Tea was born.

Vable later secured a fellowship to open a Young Mountain Tea store in the US, now in Springfield. Since then, he’s won a World Tea award for building India’s next generation of tea producers and his company has secured national distribution for Kumaon teas.

Hill Walker
With his colleagues at the College of Education, he is among national leaders in research of school-related behavior problems and challenges of at-risk youth.

Lila Wallace
BA ’17 GERMAN, D. 1984
A publishing and philanthropy super-achiever, she was cofounder of Reader’s Digest and The Wallace Foundation, which fosters improvements in learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children and the vitality of the arts.

Margo Grant Walsh
Recognized as a leader in interior architecture, real estate, and management, she shaped a profession, a design firm, and the lives of countless aspiring designers and students over a 40-year career. Walsh pioneered offices in the US and London as a founding board member for Gensler, a global design and architecture firm.

Estella Ford Warner
One of two women graduating from the school in 1918, this physician became a leader in public medicine who set up health care programs abroad.

Janis Weeks
A neuroscientist turned global health advocate, since the mid-1990s she has increasingly been involved with research and education in Africa and the study of tropical parasitic and infectious diseases.

Minoru Yasui
BA ’37 BL ’39 LAW, D. 1986
Posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the first Japanese American to pass the state bar challenged discriminatory laws targeting Japanese Americans during and after World War II, laying groundwork for the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

Michi Yasui Ando
BA ’42 ENGLISH, D. 2006
Unable to attend graduation due to World War II internment of Japanese Americans, Michi Yasui—Minoru’s sister—received her degree in 1986 and symbolized achievement in higher education, humanitarian values, and commitment to community.

Mo Young
Lane County’s equity and access coordinator is a human-rights volunteer and social justice advocate who received the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leadership Award.

Lidia Yuknavitch
An inspiration to those who see themselves as misfits, she has authored national bestselling novels including The Book of Joan and she teaches writing in person and online.


Thanks to UO scientists, zebrafish have established the UO as a center for biomedical research.

Molecular biologist George Streisinger pioneered genetic studies using zebrafish, culminating with the paper introducing them to the world in 1981. Following his death in 1984, UO biologists Chuck Kimmel, Monte Westerfield, Judith Eisen, John Postlethwait, and others demonstrated that the fish is perfect for studying genes involved in basic biological processes as well as human development and disease.

Today the US National Institutes of Health bases two research treasures at the UO. The Zebrafish Information Network is an online biological database used by scientists everywhere. The Zebrafish International Resource Center is the central repository of zebrafish developed for the study of basic biology and understanding human diseases including cancer.

“It’s almost as if Streisinger anticipated our needs,” says Philip Washbourne, an associate professor of biology. “He knew back then that we needed an organism that was see-through, so that we could see the nervous system and other parts of the animal as they develop.”

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15 Responses to 100 “Ducks” who made a difference

  1. Steve Mital says:

    What about the Ninkasi founders?

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  2. Bob Choquette says:

    Steve Prefontaine?

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  3. Thomas Hager says:

    Where’s Phil Knight?

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    • Fishwrapper says:

      Based on this list folks will be asking, “Who?”

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  4. Dog says:

    This is likely the most arbitrary list ever made. Noteables like
    Walter Brattain (nobel prize) and Corazon Aquino are certainly worthy but how does that compare to people on this list that have recently graduated and are just starting to make a contribution.

    And seriously, does a list like this increase donations? I am sure no one will even try to determine this …

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    • Publius says:

      Corazon Aquino probably spent no more than a few days at the U of Oregon, One of her visits consisted of a fancy dinner with adm + donors to which no students were invited. This was paid for by the Savage Endowment, solicited by former U of O President Paul Olum, whose purpose is to promote education on peace and human rights among students. At the time, the head of the int’l affairs office was skimming off Savage Endowment funds for her own self-promotion. Aquino’s visit was part of this. If people are unaware of this fund (generates about $70,000 a year) it is because it has been “suspended” by the current office of int’l affairs.

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      • Dog says:

        correct, I should not have used her as an example; a better one would have been someone like Therese Bottomely that has had quite an accomplished career as a UO product

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  5. charlie says:

    Kenneth Ghent, Mathenatics. Outstanding teacher, gracious with his time and knowledge….

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  6. New Year Cat says:

    Add Scott Sundberg, who graduated from the University of Oregon in 1978 with a B.Sc.(Honors) in Biology and who initiated the Oregon Flora Project. See http://www.oregonflora.org/ and http://www.oregonflora.org/ofn/sundberg_publications.htm

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  7. Canaduck says:

    “Inaugural Board of Trustees” — I thought you were trolling us and throwing in random names to this list. Turns out I was wrong.

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  8. Fishwrapper says:

    Not on the list with so many others also passed over is my wife, ’89, who taught middle school language arts for thirteen years, then switched to special education and continues that work, right here in Oregon. She is like so many thousands of others who never got a headline from a famous gig or discovery way up in the cultural stratosphere, who make real differences every day in the lives of real people, right here on the ground.

    They should tell more of those stories, as there are far more humble Ducks making differences than famous ones.

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  9. It's classified says:

    One glaring omission from the list is UOMatters

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    • Dog says:

      UO matters is not a graduate of UO

      UOmatters belongs on a another list – that’s is a short list
      ultimately to be suspended from the Flak Tower

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