(From the Fall 2010 Oregon Stater)
By Walter J. Sperling
“As business people, Joan and I see very clearly the need for a great business school—one that is focused on the specific needs of Oregon businesses and their leaders,” Ken Austin, ’54, said as he reflected on he and his wife’s $10 million gift to help construct a long-awaited, much-needed building for the College of Business. The announcement came at the college’s annual Alumni and Business Partner Awards Dinner in May.
The new building will be named for the Austins and in many ways is the culmination of their transformational impact on business education at OSU. Both the Austin Family Business Program and the Austin Entrepreneurship Program, founded earlier, are recognized as national leaders in their respective fields and as major contributors to the Oregon economy.
The Austins are co-founders and owners of A-dec, Inc., one of the largest dental equipment manufacturers in the world. Joan also is president of Springbrook Properties, which developed and owns the highly acclaimed Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg.
Calling the Austins “champions of education throughout the state,” President Ed Ray noted, “The new building will be a fitting tribute to their contributions to the core academic programs of the college and an enduring testament to their commitment to future Oregon Staters and indeed to all Oregonians.”
The family of Al Reser, ’60, and his wife, Pat Valian Reser, ’60, joined the Austins in kicking off fundraising for the new building with a $6 million commitment. Al Reser passed away in April shortly before plans for the business building were publicly announced (see related story on p. 33).
At 100,000 square feet, the new building will be more than twice the size of Bexell Hall, which houses business education on campus. Built in 1922 to serve 900 business undergraduates, Bexell can no longer accommodate today’s demand, nor can it support recent technological and pedagogical advances. The new building will provide a modern home for the college’s 2,400 undergraduates plus MBAs and will also help accommodate the 2,500 non-majors who take classes in the college.
Located across the street from iconic Weatherford Hall, which houses the Austin Entrepreneurship Program, the new facility will feature classrooms, offices, student service areas and collaborative learning spaces for the college’s rapidly expanding undergraduate and graduate programs. The result will be a strong focal point for business education at OSU.
Explaining the importance of the new facility, Ilene Kleinsorge, the Sara Hart Kimball Dean of the College of Business, noted:
“This building will enhance learning and discovery by encouraging interconnection, collaboration and creativity in the education of tomorrow’s business leaders.”
Total cost for the new facility is $50 million and will be met with $25 million in private gifts and a matching $25 million in state bond funds. Another $5 million in private support is sought to meet start-up and operating costs. Work on the new building is expected to begin in spring 2013 with completion slated for fall 2014.
Other alumni have signaled enthusiasm for the project with an overwhelming show of support. The college has received 12 additional six- and seven-figure gifts since the Austins’ and Resers’ gifts launched the effort in May, pushing the total past the two-thirds mark by midsummer.
For John Stirek, ’82, and his wife, Kate Nelson Stirek, ’83, the motivation for their $1 million gift was a combination of factors. “We are third generation Beavers, with our daughter at OSU now, and this was a way to express how important our OSU experience has been.”
Stirek, who is president of development and investment for Trammell Crow’s western region, also noted the inspiration provided by the Austins and the Reser family.
“We felt this is the time for those who can, and who have the spirit to do so, to step up and help keep the momentum going,” he said.
For Stephen Bailey, ’70, and his wife, Marian, the motivation for their $1 million gift was providing opportunities to current OSU students.
“We are looking to give back for the help I received, coming from a farming background and being a reluctant student to start,” he said. “I kept plugging, the school kept plugging with me, and the university launched me into a career.”
Recently retired as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Flir Systems, Inc., Bailey has begun a new career as a partner in the Soléna and Grand Cru Estates winery and is a participant in the Oregon Wine Research Institute (see related story on p. 34).
“We want to help students who are coming into OSU today, making sure they get on track and go out and succeed,” Bailey said.
For John Stirek, the building project is an opportunity to be part of a long-term process.
“There is a revolution going on in the College of Business, so the potential is there to make a difference for the college, and for Oregon, for years to come,” he said.
President Ray echoed the sentiment. He noted that promoting economic growth and social progress is one of three key areas the university has identified as core strengths and priorities for investment.
Ray highlighted the gifts’ long-term impact:
“By partnering with the Austin and Reser families and the other private investors on this facility, we dramatically enhance our ability to prepare future generations of Oregon’s business leaders.”
Alumni help build new home for College of Business
Joan D. & Ken Austin, ’54
Patricia Valian Reser, ’60, Alvin L. Reser, ’60, and family
Marian C. & Stephen M. Bailey, ’70
Margie & Jon Masterson, ’61
Kate Nelson Stirek, ’83, & John A. Stirek, ’82
Thomas W. Toomey, ’82
$500,000 – $999,999
Jennifer & Donald A. Robert, ’82
$250,000 – $499,999
Dena B. & Larry H. Brown, ’58
Barbara A. & Duane C. McDougall, ’75
Kimberly D. & Tod D. Perkins, ’86
Cynthia Boldman Potwin, ’75, & Peter V. Potwin, ’72
Marta & Ken Thrasher, ’71
$100,000 – $249,999
Chris & Steven J. Gomo, ’74
Robert W. Lundeen, ’42