From the Winter 2012 Oregon Stater
By Kevin Miller
Believe me, as one of the thousands of Beavers who live in Eugene, I know that a football season like this year’s can test a person’s orange and black pride.
That’s “test,” not “weaken.” In any event, a person like me, with an editor’s-eye view of what’s happening around campus, has other things to worry about.
A problem of late has been the terrible inconvenience of having to go to so many groundbreakings and openings of stunning new buildings, where those of us in attendance must listen as generous donors who make these projects possible deflect the credit onto others and tell us how humbling it has been for them to get to know the great scientists and teachers who will inhabit the building as they do world-changing research and train world-changing students.
Pretty tough to hear, huh?
Often we’re subjected to remarks by bright, articulate students who explain how their experience and their teachers at the university have transformed their lives, giving them the skills they’ll need to work way out on the far reaches of current knowledge. Then they promise to forever do that work as an expression of eternal gratitude for what they’ve been given at OSU.
No, that is not a tear in my eye.
Then the scientists and teachers take the podium and tell us that they love working at OSU, where collaboration is king and the eye is on the prize and the prize is a constant stream of solutions to the problems that face us all. They thank everyone in sight and many who are out of sight for letting them work in the new building. And of course they too promise to express their gratitude through continued and focused work in the name of the greater good.
I know, I know. It gets old. Sometimes it even gets personal.
At this fall’s reception to mark the opening of the new Linus Pauling Science Center (see photos, inside cover and page 37) I arrived early and was aimlessly wandering around, wondering if anyone could tell that my sport coat had recently been in a motorcycle saddlebag, when Dean of Science Sherman Bloomer whisked me away on a private tour. He showed me the inspiring combination of perfectly designed research labs, teaching spaces and art that is the Pauling building.
As I walked with him I thought back to one of the first times I interviewed him, several years ago when the building was but a rumor and he seemed way too excited about an idea that still needed at least another $20 million in support.
Now I listened to him describe how the project came in under budget and early, with every saved cent spent to make it even better. He smiled so broadly and unabashedly that it seemed he might hurt himself as he struggled to express how much great science would be done in this building.
And it dawned on me: If you want to know about the heart of an institution, look at where its money goes when times are tough.
I don’t know about you, but my orange and black pride is just fine.
Kevin Miller, ’78, is editor of the Oregon Stater