Doing the business of the UO

Today the Board of the Trustees of the University of Oregon convened on campus. It has been interesting watching this board form, organize and begin to govern. This is a group of dedicated individuals (many alumni of the UO) who are taking on the heavy lifting of governing a school that has, for a very long time, been governed by a fairly hands-off statewide board. This new group is hands-on and is taking time to meet faculty, students, staff and alumni in order to better understand the UO. As they come to understand the UO, they will have first-hand information with which they can govern the UO. They can help the UO become even greater. Thank you for your service. You make me proud to be a Duck.

New Ducks Arrive

I remember when my parents and I arrived to the University of Oregon campus for my first term. My head was spinning as I pondered the tasks of trying to figure out where I was going to live, where everything was located and – without a car – how I was going to get around. The reality of that moment didn’t sink in until I watched my folks drive off in my dad’s Ford Ranchero. This would be home for the next few years, and I only knew three people. I was excited and nervous … and probably a little afraid.

Embracing these very common emotions, the UO started a unique program a few years back. It’s called “Unpack the Quack.” Staff, faculty, alumni and volunteers from the community descend on campus to help our new Ducks move into the residence halls. Highly successful the first year, Unpack the Quack is now an annual tradition.

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of helping at this year’s event, and it was terrific. One by one, cars loaded to the brim pulled up with hopefully everything necessary for a new life at the UO. Those of us welcoming the families introduced ourselves and then, quite literally, rolled up our sleeves and moved everything to the students’ rooms. In a matter of 10 minutes per car, each was emptied, allowing parents to spend valuable time working through other crucial details with their student.

If you would be able to join us next year, you should come and volunteer for our Unpack the Quack event. You’d be fondly reminded of what it was like moving to the UO. And I know you’d enjoy seeing the welcome relief you’d provide to the new Ducks and parents during their transition.

A job well done!

I came to work earlier than usual this morning – somewhere around 6:30. As I walked from the parking lot to my office, I paused to look around at our lovely campus. It was quiet but definitely not inactive. Down 13th I could see dozens of our Campus Operations staff hard at work before most others arrive. I watched the “green” truck and its team collecting recyclables; groundskeepers pruning, raking and mowing; a man using a power washer on the front of Johnson Hall; and a garbage truck collecting material from trash cans along the street. Key people - behind the scenes - all proudly doing their job to beautify our alma mater. When we talk about the splendor of our campus and how it’s integral to what we are as an institution, it’s important to remember that it simply doesn’t happen on its own. The tremendous efforts and attentive care of this awesome crew continue to keep the UO looking spectacular. Thank you all for a job well done!

The Amazing Impact of Studying Abroad

 I never was able to take part in an exchange program when I attended the University of Oregon, so when my daughter told us she wanted to participate in one before graduating from the UO, we were completely supportive. Recently, she fulfilled her goal, returning home after two months of studying at the university in Querétaro, Mexico.

I am amazed at how the international experience had such a profound impact on my daughter. As I expected, her language broadened while being fully immersed in the unfamiliar culture. In fact, she told me her head hurt at the end of each day because very few people spoke English. Her vocabulary was stretched while having to speak Spanish in order to navigate even simple daily tasks.

What I didn’t expect, though, was how studying abroad would impact so many other areas of my daughter’s life.

- Her connection and attention to the bigger world around us has become much more important.

- Her view and focus has been greatly expanded, as she learned about our culture through the lenses of people from another country.

- She made new friends in Mexico and heard about their unique experiences as young adults.

My daughter’s trip was clearly transformational in her personal development.

As the UO Communications team strives to find more ways to tell the complete story of the University of Oregon, and how attending here changes students, life-transforming experiences like this have to be part of the story. I see what it did for my daughter and can only hope that all of our students have the opportunity to participate in studying abroad.

 If you took part in a University of Oregon exchange program, I’d like to hear about it!

A New Chapter for Me and Our Alma Mater - July 2014

Three years ago I left employment in the private sector and leaped into the world of higher education. It provided an enriching opportunity for me to serve my alma mater, to help energize our alumni association and to reengage many of our alums – connecting them back to the University of Oregon in new, fresh and exciting ways. Then a year ago, another tremendous opportunity at the university was presented to me. 

After our vice president for University Relations left to take a position at the University of Chicago, a reorganization took place. With it came intentional focus by our Communications and Marketing department to tell the unique story of the UO. Those of you who know me recognize that this is exactly what I’ve done for nearly thirty years for a variety of clients in the banking, healthcare, restaurant and retail industries. The opportunity to use my professional skills to tell the world about my wonderful alma mater was too fulfilling and rewarding to pass up. 

The University of Oregon has plenty of awareness and recognition of its athletic excellence and success (which is far different from the early ’80s when I was here). The goal for my new, second team of coworkers has been to develop an integrated communication initiative designed to aggressively tell our state, nation and the world about the academic excellence of our alma mater. This project began a year ago, and we recently hired a nationally recognized agency to help develop bold and creative messaging.

I ended up holding down the two jobs, as I continued as the executive director of the University of Oregon Alumni Association (UOAA) and assumed the role of associate vice president for communications, marketing and brand management at the UO. Needless to say, it’s been a long year. But it now comes to an end, and I’m thankful for the support of so many during this hectic time. 

I am thankful for the UOAA board. Working together, we launched a bold and visionary, new strategic plan that is continuing to shape our organization. I am also thankful for the UOAA staff. This dedicated team kept pushing along, making sure we were implementing our plan, serving our alumni and advancing our mission to make our alma mater stronger by encouraging and fostering many more alumni connections and relationships. 

Finally, I am thankful to my family that I haven’t seen much this past year. Thank you for your ongoing and committed love, faith and support. 

As of July 1, Paul Clifford has taken the reins of the UOAA as executive director and associate vice president of Regional Alumni Engagement. Paul is an innovator in alumni relations, and that’s what we need. You see, the reorganization is transforming how the UO engages its alumni and how our alums engage with the university. We want a seamless strategy for all who support this wonderful institution. I look forward to working with Paul, and the team, as we animate this visionary approach to building lifelong relationships with our alumni community. 

The past three years have flown quickly. It has truly been an honor to serve my fellow alumni and the UOAA board of directors. I have been amazed at the bonds Lisa and I have made with hundreds of alums we’ve met. These bonds are because we share the experience of graduating from this remarkable university. All because we are Ducks. 

Thank you for letting me share about my life, my family and my passionate love for the UO; it has been an honor to publish these columns. You can still follow my writings in my new blog, “Always a Duck." I have appreciated your encouragement and will continue to welcome any thoughts you might like to share. 

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and our alma mater. I look forward to our next chapter. 

All the best to you. Go Ducks!


One more reason why I love the University of Oregon - June 2014

For as long as I can remember I have always had this mixture of passions. I love creativity and growing up I would channel this into my artwork. However, I also had this passionate interest in the world of business. I channeled that starting in middle school when I started working at Oregon Stationery in Prineville, Oregon. 

By the time I enrolled at the University of Oregon in 1983 I wasn’t sure what career path I would wander along in my life. Since I already had a couple of college-level drawing classes under my belt, I decided to enroll in the School of Arts. And with a dad who was a high school shop teacher, I figured that I would use my talent to become an art teacher. 

That was until the life drawing class that changed my life forever. There I was with my charcoal stick in hand, drawing the model as perfectly as I could. The teacher was wandering the room, looking over everyone’s shoulders. He then came to me and watched me for quite some time. The longer he stayed, the more nervous I became. After what seemed like an eternity he finally spoke. “You’re in the wrong school,” he said. I was stunned. 

“Let me explain,” he continued. “Your drawing is great. It looks exactly like the model. You are trying to replicate what you see, not interpret it. Artists interpret. That’s what makes it art. You might be more suited for commercial or graphic art. Or advertising.” As we continued to talk, I explained that I didn’t know anything about these fields. So he took his own time to schedule an appointment with me and an advisor at the UO School of Journalism and Communication. The advisor explained the world of advertising and I instantly saw that it was a field that blended both of my passions: creativity and business. I was hooked. And that one decision led me to a career I have enjoyed for over thirty years now in advertising, marketing and brand work for hundreds of clients. 

The University of Oregon is one of those special communities where we all ask the “what if?” questions and help to make each other better individuals. We create the space for teachers like this one in my story (I wish I could remember his name) to step outside the traditional boundary and 


Another reason why I love the University of Oregon - May 2014

Another reason why I love the University of Oregon

For as long as I can remember, I have internalized a mix of passions. A lifelong love for creativity reflects from my own artwork. I also, however, have a compelling fascination in the world of business. I became aware of this and began channeling that interest when I started middle school and worked at Oregon Stationery in Prineville. 

Later in 1983 when I enrolled at the University of Oregon, I wasn’t sure which career path I would venture down. Considering the advantage of having a couple of college-level drawing classes under my belt, I enrolled in the School of Arts. My dad, whom I deeply respected and admired, was a high school shop teacher, so I figured that I too might like to use my talent to become a teacher of art. 

I was confidently following that education trail until a life-drawing class stopped me in my tracks. Grasping a charcoal stick while focusing on drawing as perfectly as I could, I sensed the professor, who had been canvassing the room, approach me from behind and peer over my shoulder. The longer he looked, the more nervous I got. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally spoke: “You’re in the wrong school.” I was stunned. 

“Let me explain,” he continued. “Your drawing is great; it looks exactly like the model. But you are trying to replicate what you see, not interpret it. Artists interpret. That’s what makes it art. You may be more suited for commercial or graphic art. Or advertising.” I explained that I didn’t know anything about those fields. He then used his own time to schedule an appointment for me to meet with an advisor in the UO School of Journalism and Communication.

At that meeting, the advisor explained the world of advertising, and I instantly saw that it blended my passions for creativity and business. I was hooked. That one detour led me into a 30-plus-year career in advertising, marketing, and brand work, where I have enjoyed partnering with hundreds of clients to improve their businesses. 

The University of Oregon is a special community in which we all ask the “What if …” questions and support each other in becoming better individuals. Ours is a community where staff, coaches, students, researchers, alumni, and teachers (like the one in my story) are encouraged to step outside of our comfortable, traditional boundaries. And when we do, the impact reaches far and lasts long.


A Long Line of Stewards - April 2014

I don’t know how long you’ve been out of school, but try to remember what it was like that very first day you went to class at the University of Oregon. Weren’t you in awe of the amazing landscape of our campus? Centuries-old trees, lush green grass, feathery ferns and abundant flowers … The majesty of it all makes this one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. 

Learning is so much more than what takes place in the classroom. This arboretum of a campus definitely adds to the amazing education we all received here, and that UO students are enjoying today. Education of the whole person is a philosophy embraced at this special place we all call home – the UO. As human beings, we are drawn to nature, and we appreciate it. In that appreciation, we examine and find out more about ourselves.

If you haven’t been back to see your beautiful alma mater, make time to come and visit (hint: the UOAA leads alumni tours every Friday at 2:00 p.m. – call the office to make a reservation). When you do visit, you’ll quickly be reminded why we all appreciate this incredible campus environment.  

Our picturesque university, however, didn’t just happen. The beauty we enjoy has been cultivated since 1876 - when this site was only a field with one building. That attentive care of our facility by generations before us has produced the breathtaking community we enjoy today. And this is why we are called to wholeheartedly tend to our campus. Our committed stewardship will benefit generations to come, with a campus for which they can be proud. 

If you want to play a rewarding part in having a lasting impact at the University of Oregon, please join alumni, staff, faculty and students on University Day, May 15. Contact the UOAA office for more details.

Movies and Fond Memories - March 2014

I enjoy movies. I like how they transport me to a different time and place full of new and exciting adventures. And I appreciate the way they help bond us all with a common set of experiences, from humorous or intensely dramatic to adventurous or educationally insightful.


My taste in movies varies wildly. One minute I find myself enraptured with the incredible majesty and dramatic musical score of the 1965 British epic Dr. Zhivago. And then I can be heard throughout my neighborhood, laughing hysterically at Zoolander, the 2001 American comedy starring Ben Stiller. 


My years at the University of Oregon were filled with plenty of movie outings. I remember many movie nights at the 180 PLC lecture hall. And watching Friday the 13th at the Student Manor Apartments on East 18th Avenue with my roommate will not be forgotten. But there are two movies that stand above the rest. 


Star Wars tops my list. This all-time classic was the first movie I remember seeing in a theater, and I was awestruck. The movie’s out-of-this-world yet captivating characters, amazing special effects and riveting story swept me and my friends off to “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....”


The second movie is St. Elmo’s Fire, a personification of the 80s. I wasn’t terribly enamored by its cinematic expertise, but it’s the movie my wife, Lisa, and I were watching when I proposed after dating for three months. It was clearly not the most romantic setting for a marriage proposal, yet it seemed pretty creative to me and my friend Byron as we planned all the details. 


In preparation, I spirited away one of Lisa’s rings, using some lame excuse I can’t remember. Taking it to a local jeweler, I had the engagement ring perfectly sized. I also needed to watch St. Elmo’s Fire (Byron had seen it), to get a sense of when to pop the BIG question. The scene where Alec Newbary (played by Judd Nelson) proposes to Leslie Hunter (played by Ally Sheedy) was ideal.


Byron and I invited Lisa and several of her Delta Gamma sisters to see the movie with us. After finding seats in the theater and enduring an unbearably long wait, the much anticipated movie scene arrived. With huge butterflies in my stomach, I knelt on that sticky cinema floor and pulled the ring from the jeweler’s box.


Reaching for Lisa’s hand, I asked, “Will you marry me?” She simply laughed, sure that I was joking. Who in his right mind proposes in a movie theater? She snapped the box closed and resumed watching the movie. I was stunned and slipped back in my seat.


Looking at Byron for encouragement, I disappointedly whispered, “Did I say it wrong?” “No,” he assured me. So I leaned over to Lisa, tapped her on the shoulder and said, “I wasn’t joking. Will you marry me?” She looked at me and answered, “Yes!” Her friends started yelling, and pandemonium broke out as others trying to watch the movie loudly told us to be quiet. We left the theater, and the rest is history. 


What are your favorite movie memories, especially those involving the University of Oregon? I would love to hear about them! Until then, go take in a good flick … You never know what might happen. 


And, Go Ducks!



Tell People You Love Them - February 2014

Valentine’s Day, 1974. I remember the night before … My mom bought a box of Looney Tunes Valentine’s cards so I could address them for my classmates in Mrs. Moore’s fifth-grade class. I grabbed my pen and neatly wrote each classmate’s name on an envelope. Then I began to compose some of the best Valentine’s Day prose of the seventies on each card. “You’re cool.” “Happy Valentine’s Day!” “Stay groovy.” The poetry flowed effortlessly. 

I arrived to school a few minutes early the next day and proudly distributed the cards on everyone’s desk. They did the same when they got there. And one by one, each of the twenty-some of us had a Valentine from every person in the class. I remember how special I felt reading all of the cards in the envelopes addressed to me, and it warmed my heart to watch my classmates open and read theirs. 

It is wonderful to take time out of your day to acknowledge others in your life and let them know how much you appreciate them. As we look ahead to the Day of Love, Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of a conversation I had with my Dad just a day or so before he died. He said, “Tell people you love them.” I was a young, twenty-four-year-old man when I lost my father to cancer, and most of the wisdom he shared with me in his last days wasn’t really appreciated until years later. 

As I mature (that’s a polite way of saying “I’m getting older” – my AARP card arrives soon), and experienced more of life’s ups and downs, I have come to appreciate the simple wisdom of telling people I love them. I show appreciation to the barista making my coffee. A custodian taking care of our campus. The young woman pumping my gas. My colleagues. My kids. My wife. 

All individuals enjoy moments when another person acknowledges and expresses thankfulness for them. So don’t wait to tell others you appreciate or love them. Whether it’s a few, simple words, a hug, or a Looney Tune Valentine’s Day card, stop, and take time to express your love and gratitude. It makes people feel special. And you will feel pretty good as well.

Go Ducks and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Oh, and “stay groovy,” 



Thankful for the University of Oregon - November 2013

Thankful for the University of Oregon

As the holiday season gets officially underway, I am amazed at how, some way, I went from the carefree, spirited child who approaches this season with great anticipation to an adult who is continually hung up in the hectic pace of the holidays, frantically trying to manage the craziness. But when I pause to think about it, this is one of my favorite times of the year. I enjoy getting our family together and catching up, blessing each other with gifts of appreciation and taking time to tell those in our lives how thankful we are for them.Thanksgivings were simple and special when I was growing up. We’d gather family members from all over central Oregon – Terrebonne, Prineville, Redmond and Bend – and everyone would bring a special dish to share during mealtime. I always looked forward to that delicious spread and seeing uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents. It was an amazing time of connection and appreciation.

I remember my Dad giving some profound advice to me at one of those gatherings (granted, at the time I was probably more interested in the pumpkin pie and playing with my cousins, but I now so appreciate his wisdom about life). He told me to make sure I didn’t waste a day by not being thankful for something. “Every day is ‘Thanksgiving,’” he joyfully said.

And now I pass that great wisdom along to you. As we, the University of Oregon alumni community, enter this holiday season, let’s start by taking time to examine our lives and express appreciation for those who have made a lasting impact. I am thankful for …

  • my family
  • my friends
  • the tremendous team of hardworking staff at the UO Alumni Association
  • my other colleagues
  • hundreds of volunteers around the country who are committed to the UO vision of making this campus stronger
  • the University of Oregon – the reason for why I am fortunate to have so many elements in my life for which I am eternally grateful

For what are you thankful? Can any of those sources of appreciation be traced to your experience at the UO? I sure hope so. 

With gratitude,



DUCK CONNECTIONS - Reflections on Homecoming - October 2013

Homecoming is always a special time when Ducks all over the world flock home to our campus “pond.” Seeing our alumni connect with each other and reconnect with our ever-changing campus are two aspects of my job I enjoy most. You’ll enjoy these few examples of the special encounters I had this year.


Right before the nostalgic student parade was to start, I talked to Anne Marie Levis, one of the parade judges and the immediate past president of the UO Alumni Association (UOAA) board of directors. “It’s fun to see everyone so ‘into’ the spirit,” she shared. And it was. It also was wonderful to reconnect with her and a number of other alumni as we watched the beautiful floats roll along.


The UOAA invited all members of the Order of Emerald (UO alumni who graduated fifty or more years ago) back to their alma mater for a Homecoming luncheon and tour of the campus. This was held in conjunction with the class of 1963’s reunion and induction into the Order.


As our UOAA team welcomed these valued alumni into the Lee Barlow Giustina Ballroom at the Ford Alumni Center, I had the pleasure of visiting with Janie O’Donnell. Janie goes to just about every Duck football game, and I am always pleased to see her at our UOAA pregame events when we are on the road. How great it was to see her at Homecoming and welcome her back and show her around campus. After the campus tour I asked her what she thought. “Wow!” she proclaimed. “The campus is so beautiful and has changed so much. I am so glad I took the tour.”


On Friday night of the Homecoming festivities, my wife, Lisa, and I had the pleasure of attending the third annual Multicultural Alumni Reunion. What an incredible evening! We met so many terrific alumni who were all so very excited about being back on campus and reconnecting with old friends.


Sitting at our table that evening was the Ahina family, who drove down from Seattle just for the reunion. They came to see the campus, find old friends and meet students at the various student groups. As we broke bread and got to know each other, we shared stories of our lives at the UO and beyond. Lisa and I told of adopting Carson, our son. We reminisced about our UO experiences from the eighties. And they talked about their mission group, Yucatan Helping Hands and how their experiences at the UO helped direct them into this endeavor.


In the chair at my right was Jordan Brown, a senior in the UO School of Journalism and Communication. “What’s your emphasis?” I asked. “Advertising,” he shared. “Mine was too,” I said, and the conversation continued. By the end of the evening, everyone at our table felt a strong connection between the new friendships we had formed in just a few short hours. The University of Oregon was the common bond that allowed us to make this connection.


That’s what Homecoming is about. Yes, the parade is fun, the pep rally is exciting, the events are engaging and the game is always a blast, but it’s the time spent with alumni and students – the relationships strengthened and formed – that makes it extra special. I am thankful for the friendships I personally got to reinforce and make during this year’s Homecoming because they helped to renew my passion for the UO.


I hope you had the opportunity to come back to campus this last Homecoming. If you didn’t, you still can. You don’t need to wait for another one to flock home. Make time to visit the campus, connect with old friends from the UO and meet some new Ducks. You’ll find it refreshing, and it will ignite a passion for your alma mater. Why are you waiting? See you soon!

A New Season - September 2013

I love the fall season. As a young boy, it was the season that mixed the sorrow of losing summer fun and the joy of reuniting with friends at school. While a student at the University of Oregon some thirty years ago, I had the same mixed emotions. Those summer breaks were fun, but I always enjoyed leaving the hot, desert plains of Prineville, Oregon, and heading back to the lush, tree-filled community of the UO. I knew I would soon run into friends from the previous year, and welcomed the awe that overcame me at the start of each academic year. 

Fast forward to 2013, and I still get excited as students head back to the University of Oregon for the fall term. Our community is alive this week with the energy of new and returning students. And as the campus community embraces this new season, your UO Alumni Association is excitedly embracing a season of refreshed focus as well.

The UOAA is moving into the second year of its long-range strategic plan. With that, we’ve begun the process of boldly advancing our mission to make the University of Oregon even stronger. It will be accomplished by fostering lifelong relationships with our alumni.

UO alumni are experiencing an entirely new set of programming options. Showcasing the academic excellence of our alma mater are events like our Portland Science Nights. The UOAA has added the Duck Career Network to help our alumni in networking and advancing their careers with other Ducks. The association has expanded its presence with the regional chapters, increased member rewards and is continuing to engage alumni in valuable philanthropic endeavors that make our communities better. 

Your alumni association has also undergone a substantial visual overhaul – including a new website, new printed material, new monthly e-news design and a new logo reflecting the direction of our strategic plan. This new logo provides a subtle nod to our classic roots yet uses a bold font reflecting the energy of our move in a new, invigorating direction. 

Like students returning to our campus, the UOAA enters this season reflecting on the successes of last year … and looking forward to what is ahead. We recognize that we aren’t quite there, but we are proud of the strides we have taken.

Do your own reflecting. Don’t rush through this fall and miss out on seeing leaves change colors. And while you’re at it, take time to check out all that the UOAA is offering, and let us know what you think.

Student Athletes. Kids at Heart. - August 2013

With the excitement of a new season of sports – football, soccer, volleyball – kicking off, I am reminded that our talented UO athletes are, in fact, students. And as an alumnus, and parent of student-athletes, I can say this is an important fact for all UO alumni to remember as we cheer for our Ducks. 

    The term “student-athlete” became a very real term to me a number of years ago. I was at a Duck football game with my family. Our team won the game (I think it was against USC), and everyone was euphoric – including my son, Carson. He told me he wanted to rush the field with some of his friends who were also there, so Lisa and I ended up waiting after the game for him.

    After what seemed like an eternity, Carson finally joined us outside of Autzen Stadium, and we wandered across the lot toward our car that was parked at the Boy Scout offices. As we walked, he showed to us the autographs he had gotten from various players. He then excitedly recounted pretty much every play from the day’s game (I could barely remember what I had for breakfast that morning). 

    Still trying to make our way to the car, we decided to go along the backside of the Len Casanova Athletic Center, toward the tunnel where the teams exit Autzen. Nearing the tunnel, Carson quickly pointed out the visiting team’s buses waiting for the players. Lisa and I noticed all of their parents lining up near the buses to greet the team.

One-by-one we watched the young men walk up to their parents. Some sobbed. Some were quiet. All were hugged by their family. It was a poignant moment for me – it quickly occurred to me that those student-athletes were boys, just like my young son. Of course, they were much larger and older … but boys, just the same. 

    That’s the “athlete” part of the term. But there is the “student” part to consider as well. The intense players from all of the teams we watch on the court, field or track are amazing students who not only compete athletically, but compete in the classroom and in communities.

Just think of the additional burden these busy student-athletes have while they work diligently to excel daily in the classroom. And many go off-campus to get actively involved and have a lasting impact in the local community or abroad. Here’s a great example of the type of “student-athlete” enrolled at the University of Oregon:

    While I never competed in sports (I have a body made more for running from football players than running at them), both of my children have played competitively … and still do. I have seen them experience the thrill of victory, which always inevitably comes with the sorrow of defeat. It’s the nature of competition. And, Lisa and I have been there, giving hugs and consolation after a devastating loss as well as hugs and high-fives after a thrilling win.

That moment outside of Autzen was so moving for me because, in an instant, I realized that the opponents on the field that day were just like my son. The enthusiasm of “our” win was quickly dampened by the sting of loss I saw on the faces of the young men.

As parents, alumni and fans, let’s all remember this when we cheer on our student-athletes at their games. Let’s not forget how hard they all work to compete in the game and to excel at their school accomplishments and philanthropic endeavors. These student-athletes deserve our support and encouragement. And every now and then they just might need a hug too. 

Go Ducks!

Taking the Time for Fellow Ducks - June 2013

In the fall of 1985, I had two things on my mind. First, marriage – Lisa and I were due to marry on December 28th that year, just a week or so after school would end. The second thing on my mind was finding a job. I was littering the Lane County area with my resume in search of a job. This search continued well on after we were married. What I didn’t know, as a student, was that the mid-eighties were some of the worst economic times the State of Oregon had ever experienced. 

Fortunately, Lisa worked at the Wild Plum Restaurant and kept us afloat during this time. There is no way to explain the feeling of rejection as I would send yet another resume out in search of a job. If you’ve never experienced that feeling, count yourself very fortunate. But I kept the faith and kept burning up my typewriter ribbon as I would pound out another cover letter, send it off and wait. I kept in touch with my wonderful advertising professor, Dr. Willis “Bam!” Winter, and he would send me job leads. And then I was introduced to an alumnus in town who agreed to meet me for an informational interview. He didn’t know of any jobs, but it was good to finally just meet with someone. 

He called a few weeks later to tell me about a sales position that would be opening up at The Springfield News. On his advice, I called the Publisher, set up an interview and ended up getting the job. Finally, the search was over and I was working.  However, if it weren’t for this alumnus who took the time for my informational interview, listened and let me know about this job, I wouldn’t have applied. And for that, I am extremely grateful. 

This month, the University of Oregon will graduate nearly 4,000 students who will start the process of looking for employment as well. And they too are facing a very difficult job market. One of the valuable aspects of our alumni community is the bond we all share that is the University of Oregon. As alumni, it’s important that we help the next generation of students as they enter the workforce. So, even if you don’t know of a position available, take the time this spring and summer to conduct informational interviews with these newly minted Ducks, welcome them to the area, introduce them to others in their industry, interview them for positions and give them a hand. 

That’s what a good alumni community does. In fact, that’s just what good human beings should do. Care enough to listen and help these new alumni know that it’s going to be okay. Care enough to give a little time for a fellow Duck. And who knows where that time will lead.  


Creativity and Education - May 2013

I grew up in a time when art was part of the public school curriculum. Through various class projects, I found my talent for drawing. And my dad, the high school shop teacher in Prineville, Oregon, encouraged and supported me in growing this gift. My love for drawing drew me to a deep and profound appreciation of the creative process of art. Of the many things I marvel about the University of Oregon, the artistic and creative side of our alma mater is particularly wonderful.

When I started at the UO in 1983, I found it to be an institution that, in so many ways, shared my passion for creativity. Thirty years later, I have experienced much more of the university’s artistic side that I didn’t know even existed. 

  • The UO School of Music and Dance is an incredible place where you can watch formal and impromptu performances nearly every day. And if you can’t make it in person, you can watch these performances on the school’s live video-stream at
  • The Robinson and Hope theatres showcase amazing talent at an affordable ticket price. Entirely run by UO students, the Pocket Playhouse features plays almost weekly through the school year. Many of the scripts have been written by our students. The Mad Duckling Children’s Theatre presents two summer plays for family audiences.
  • The UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts is oozing with creativity you can just about feel when you walk its halls and see the hundreds of student projects.
  • A hidden treasure, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art showcases artistic works unlike anything on the west coast.

The various forms of art on display at the University of Oregon are for more than just observation by the public eye. The creative process learned in making the artwork is an essential part of a liberal arts education – the type of education we all received at the UO. Creativity leads to innovation, new ways of thinking and critical problem-solving in all areas of life. Unfortunately, with art being removed from many public school curricula, many students are not being exposed to the process of creativity. I am thrilled UO students have the opportunity to be immersed in the arts and the creativity the arts inspire. It’s this commitment to the creative process that sets Ducks apart and leads to tomorrow’s most innovative thinkers.

So the next time you need a break from your everyday routine, or you feel like you need to “think outside the box,” visit your alma mater and soak in some of the amazing creativity we have here at the University of Oregon. You’ll find just the inspiration you need.

Oh, The People You'll Meet - April 2013

One of the many rewards I enjoy most about my role here at the University of Oregon Alumni Association is the opportunity to meet so many Ducks from our regional Chapters. Our alumni community is so diverse and interesting, and it’s a pleasure to hear of everyone’s UO experience.

A month or so ago, our UOAA team was in Santa Monica, Calif., for a planning session with the leaders of our Los Angeles Chapter, including a terrific Duck couple, Susan and Grier Ross. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, I asked Susan, the outgoing Chapter president, how she and Grier met. “Actually, we met at an alumni association Chapter event,” she answered. Grier went on to tell our group that after graduating from the University of Oregon, he moved to the L.A. area for a better chance at finding a job. Some friends suggested that he network with Ducks at a gathering of the local UOAA Chapter. He did and was introduced to a number of L.A. Ducks, including Susan. After a while they started dating. Then, in 2005, they were married. And just this last February they welcomed their second son, Charlie, into the world. 

I hear fascinating stories about cherished relationships being formed during Chapter events. At our regional networking lunches, Ducks make valuable connections that lead to jobs. Our alumni explore the world and meet new lifelong friends during UOAA travel programs. They find other Ducks with similar interests at various Chapter activities, such as wine tasting or educational programs. It’s exciting to hear how UO alumni are gathering regionally and forming relationships with others who’ve shared the transformative experience attained by attending the University of Oregon.

If you haven’t been to a UOAA Chapter event, give one a try. You might make a Duck connection that enriches your life. That is what we’re all about at the UO Alumni Association – fostering lifelong relationships that enhance the lives of Ducks and strengthen the UO community.

That’s why nearly 16,000 Ducks have chosen to become members of the UOAA. And your membership dues enable the support of our many national and international Chapters. Hearing of the impact these chapters have on the lives of Ducks validates the tremendous return on your investment. Just ask Susan and Grier. 


Duck Sports In Your Spare Time - March 2013

One fall day in 1984 after finishing my classes at the University of Oregon, I walked through the Fishbowl of the EMU and was going down the stairs when I heard what sounded like bowling balls rolling down lanes and knocking over pins. I stopped and thought, “No … That can’t be what I heard.” But I had to check it out. There in the lower bowels of the EMU was a bowling alley (right about where the Holden Center is now located).

Though I am not a good bowler, I’ve had a fondness for the sport since my childhood years. When I was in middle school during the ʼ70s, my dad would invite me to his Thursday night bowling league, and I couldn’t have been more excited because I loved spending time with him. I remember the first time I opened up the door to the bowling alley and had to wade through the cigarette smoke (remember, this was the ʼ70s).

Dad made sure I had plenty to do on the nights I joined him. My primary jobs were to make sure the bowling balls were ready and to keep score for the team (again, this was the ʼ70s). You wouldn’t believe how many 21st-century students don’t know how to calculate a bowler’s score because they rely on the computer to do it for them.

On the way home after bowling, my dad and I would stop at the Dairy Queen in Prineville, get a couple of Cokes, sit for a while and talk. I looked forward to league night – and that time with my dad – every week. Those memories and emotions flooded my brain when I walked into the UO bowling alley that autumn day in 1984.

Every now and then throughout my college years, I would go and watch a Ducks bowling competition (yes, there was a bowling team). It was fun … just as it’s fun for today’s students to watch any one of nearly a hundred different club, intramural and intercollegiate sports at the University of Oregon. There’s something for everyone: cricket, lacrosse, track and field, cross-country, acrobatics and tumbling, baseball, softball, hockey, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, rugby and numerous other choices.

Today’s UO students are enjoying many of these sports, and as alumni, you can too. Our tennis teams would love to have you watch them at many of the Pac-12 schools where they compete. So would the hockey, baseball, cross-country and ultimate Frisbee teams. It’s a great way to remember your alma mater! Cheer for these student-athletes as they compete to be the very best in their chosen sport, and watch the athletic event that suits your fancy … except for bowling, which unfortunately disappeared from the UO line-up a few years back.

The next time you find yourself with some spare time and looking for something to do, contact your Alumni Association, and we’ll let you know if there’s a Duck team near you.

Love and Generosity - February 2013

Lisa and I fell deeply in love with our son a month before meeting him. Several years earlier, Lisa had miraculously given birth to our beautiful daughter, Delaney, but no more natural children were in our future. At four, Delaney confidently during dinner one night told us she believed that our family had a hole in it which only a brother could fill. Months went by as we tried to convince her this was not a possibility.

Early one Saturday morning, I answered a phone call. The lady on the other line was a mom whose daughter was on Delaney’s soccer team. The woman said she overheard us talking at a soccer game about adoption. Her next comment shot a chill through my body … “I don’t know what you are looking for, but there’s a baby boy who’s looking to fill a hole in a family.” I woke up Lisa, told her about the conversation and she immediately replied, “Tim, that’s our son.” 

One month later the jet transporting us landed at tiny Majuro, the capital city of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. On truly foreign soil, we were prepared – having brought all of the cash we thought we’d need since there were no ATMs, no way of accessing additional funds. The next day, we met with our attorney and started the amazing process of adopting our son … who we still hadn’t met. 

Lisa and I remember the emotional day we drove in the taxi to the courthouse to meet this little baby boy. Tears of joy rolled down our cheeks as we waited for the proceedings and watched him play with his fire truck, our eyes fixed on this cute little boy who would soon be OUR son. Finally, the proceedings ended, and he was in our arms. We couldn’t wait to get Carson home!  

Unfortunately, unexpected expenses during our short trip had drained nearly all of the cash we had taken. A revised birth certificate? That cost $2,000. Medical records? More money. And on it went everywhere we turned. When we checked in, we were told that the airline was charging us a full fare for our miracle baby boy since he had just turned two. “Cha-ching.”

With plane tickets in our hands and $72 in our pockets, we walked through the swelteringly hot airport to the one gate. The announcement to board the plane came, and we excitedly approached the gate agent … only to be told that $75 per person had to be paid for exit tax! I told the man at the gate I had only $72, and he said we couldn’t get on the plane. Lisa started to cry. Carson started to cry. I started to cry. I told the man he could have any of our belongings, and I begged him to let us go home. 

I then felt a tap on my shoulder. A stranger behind me who overheard our discussion asked, “How much do you need?” “I need $153,” I sadly told the gentleman. “Are you sure you don’t need more for a stiff drink on the plane?” he replied while laughing. “No,” I answered. He generously handed $153 to me and went on to say he worked for Western Union and was on Majuro trying to set up a wire transfer service. Nearly speechless from amazement, I said I would send the money to him when we landed in Honolulu. “Don’t worry about it,” he kindly answered. “Consider it your Father’s Day gift. Happy Father’s Day.” I had forgotten that it was Father’s Day!

A complete stranger showered love and compassion on us that day. Tears of joy streaming down our faces and hearts full of thankfulness, we carried our new son aboard the plane. Fourteen years have since come and gone, and our love affair with our island boy continues to grow. He not only filled the hole in our family, but he has expanded the love in our hearts and reminds us what love is all about.

This February 14, as you contemplate love, broaden your horizons. Love is all around us, waiting to be recognized, seized and shared. Recognize opportunities, seize them and generously share your love with those near you.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Ducks!

Small Changes, Big Impact - January 2013

If you were born after 1970, you are probably not familiar with the anti-pollution campaign featuring a cartoon owl. But most likely you are familiar with his famous saying “Give a hoot – don’t pollute!” I remember the first time I heard this cartoon owl make his poetic proclamation during a Saturday morning cartoon in 1971. It was the beginning of a nationwide movement to clean up our environment. The campaign targeted young children, and I was one on whom it had an impact. 

Additionally in 1971, the Oregon State Legislature introduced the Oregon Bottle Bill, encouraging individuals to not throw away their bottles and cans on the sides of our roads. It promoted returning the containers to the store and reclaiming the nickel deposit. This statewide campaign was clearly targeted at adults. But as my friends and I quickly learned, you also could earn a pretty penny (or nickel to be specific) picking up and recycling those discarded bottles and cans. 

Forty years later, it is amazing to see how far society has come in cleaning up the environment …and keeping it clean. And as I wander the University of Oregon campus, I am continually amazed to see how far the university has grown in its sustainability efforts and how our alma mater continues to increase its commitment to sustainability.  

  • The Lewis Integrative Science is certified LEED Platinum
  • Matthew Knight Arena is certified LEED Gold
  • The Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn Ford Alumni Center and the Lillis Business Complex are both certified LEED Silver 
  • Sierra Club's Cool Schools project – one of two national ranking programs – ranked UO 13th on their list of greenest schools in 2012  
  • UO Architecture was ranked the country's #1  Green architecture program in 2012
  • The ASUO recently funded the new Student Sustainability Center to lead Earthweek activities, manage the Student Sustainability Fund, and help coordinate the efforts of 16 environmentally-focused student groups on campus
  • The Student Sustainability Fund has been distributing 35K annually to student groups since 2006.  Dozens of projects (bike sharing, commuter apps, community carbon offset initiatives, solar installations, and local food projects) have received support  

Affecting change in a big way can sometimes seem daunting. But I am reminded of how I convinced my dad to lean on the horn of his Ford Ranchero every time I saw a “litterbug.” (He honked the horn a lot in my labor to take Woodsy’s words literally and “hoot” to keep people from polluting.) It was one small effort on my part. However, the collective whole of the anti-pollution campaigns in the seventies resulted in less roadside litter. This eventually led to the realization that we shouldn’t pollute the very world in which we live.  

As we move forward in our sustainability efforts, let’s remember that it only takes small, incremental changes to ultimately make a dramatic difference. 

Happy New Year,