The Road From The Toilet Bowl to The Fiesta Bowl - December 2012

After attending Central Oregon Community College for one year, I arrived in the fall of 1983 at the University of Oregon. I was nervous, only knowing three people when I moved here, because I really didn’t know what to expect. But one thing I was excited about was watching some live Division I football. Having grown up in Prineville, Ore., where football is almost a religion, I looked forward to being a spectator at Ducks games.

Those of you who were at the 1983 Civil War will remember it. Or better yet, you can never forget it. The rain was torrential, and it was cold. There were eleven fumbles. Five interceptions. Four missed field goals. And then the score at the end of the game: 0-0. You read correctly … a scoreless tie to end it.

Despite the loss – or tie to be more accurate – we continued to be proud of our student-athletes. After graduating, I carried my Duck pride into my role as an alumnus. And season after season, I and all alumni yearned for a promising opportunity to follow that Civil War. It finally came six years after the “Toilet Bowl” when in 1989, we found out we were going to the Independence Bowl.

Now look at how far our football team, our athletic program and our University have come. The UO football team is appearing in the Fiesta Bowl, our fourth consecutive BCS bowl. Women’s volleyball knocked on the door of the National Championship. Men’s basketball is on a good roll. Women’s cross-country brought home the 2012 national championship. And the University continues to grow the excellence of its athletic program and expand its academic excellence, it is continuing to have a lasting impact on the world by changing the lives of countless students from around the globe. That’s what being a Duck is all about. 

As we get ready to travel to the Fiesta Bowl and support our student-athletes taking on Kansas State, let’s do it big. And let’s be very thankful it’s not 1983. Go Ducks!

Paying It Forward - November 2012

A number of years ago, my wife, Lisa, and I decided to try something different for the holiday presents we were preparing to give to our friends. We handed each of them a card, a little money, and a heartfelt letter with the “instructions” for their gift. Our friends were to share their present in a way that would have a profound impact on whoever received it. That was it … simply pay it forward. 

    I was reminded of that holiday after I met some students a few weeks ago who were only able to attend the University of Oregon due to receiving some sort of scholarship … just as I had nearly thirty years ago. I had worked hard and saved for college, but paying the tuition balance and living costs was not a possibility for my parents. Coming from a lower-income family, I needed scholarships and grants, like many students at the UO today. 

    What I thought about the day I met the students were the people behind these scholarships and grants, the hard-working citizens who graciously pay taxes to fund federal and state grants and the generous donors who choose graciously, and in many cases blindly, to fund scholarships. They don’t know who will be the fortunate beneficiary of their gifts. These willing contributors work hard for what they earn and share it so more students have the crucial opportunity to attend college. 

    Those anonymous benefactors opened the door for me to attend the UO. From meeting my wife on campus and forging lifelong friendships to expanding my thinking and giving me skills necessary to develop a fulfilling career, my UO experience, made possible through priceless gifts, indelibly changed my life. Just as it changed the lives of thousands of students who enrolled before me and will change the thousands yet to enroll. 

    I don’t know who gave the gifts, but “thank you.” You presented to me the enduring gift of education. And I’m just one of countless examples of your generosity paying it forward.

If the generosity of others has had an impact in your life, take time this season to extend your thanks and share with others.


Many blessings to you and all UO alumni during this wonderful season of thanks, peace and goodwill,




Unpack the Quack - September 2012

Last year around this time, I had only been at this job for a couple of months when I arrived at the UO’s “Unpack the Quack” event. It’s a new program where volunteers, University staff and alumni flock to our campus to help families move their students into the residence halls. It is such a fun day, and I look forward to participating again this year. 

However, this year is so much more personal for me, as I will welcome my daughter as a UO Duck. 

Preparing for this was painful as she and I traveled to different schools and explored campuses in her quest to determine which was best for her. The University of Oregon completely transformed my life and that of my wife. Our experiences at the UO were some of the most pivotal chapters in our lives, and I knew they could be the same for our daughter. I simply wanted to tell her she had to enroll here. But just as it was my choice to attend the UO, deep down I knew she had to make the decision. 

When she ultimately told us she was going to commit to the UO, waddle in the footsteps of her parents and become a Duck, I was beyond excited. It was a huge decision for her. For me, I confidently knew she was getting ready to embark on an evolutionary journey of personal exploration, intellectual expansion and cultural advancement. And along the way, she is going to have such a great time.

Her commitment was made in April, and it’s now September. It’s now time to move her out of her bedroom at home and into her new room on campus. That part of the process hit me when I registered for “Unpack the Quack” again this year. My little girl – the one who swore she would be that “forever” – is going to be one of the thousands of students starting at the UO this fall. I wiped a tear and called my wife. Lisa reminded me that this is part of the process and it’s all part of the UO experience that would transform our daughter just like it did us. 

While Lisa’s comments didn’t take the sting out of that father part of my heart, it helped soothe it a bit. As alumni, you and I intimately know what is in store for each and every one of the students starting college this fall. And while it’s exciting to think about and fun to remember our own experiences, this is the time we get to warmly welcome these students to their new UO home.

I hope you’ll join in the fun and help with “Unpack the Quack” this year. You will meet some of these amazing students and be an encouragement through your hearty Duck welcome. If you come, please take time as well to meet the parents of these students. You surely will give them comfort as they say goodbye to their little girls and little boys. And if you happen to see me, just hand a tissue to me and assure me that it’s going to be alright. 


A History of Perseverance - August 2012

As a young teen I learned quickly, and painfully, that I was not built to play football. Instead, I’ve enjoyed being a spectator, especially as a University of Oregon student in the eighties. But unlike today, I didn’t get to experience the thrill of watching our football team win game after game. I remember the 0-0 Civil War, losing time after time to Washington and being pleased with a five-win season. However, I also remember devoted alumni sitting in the pouring rain supporting and encouraging the students on the field, a student section cheering in sync with the band and a football team that was doggedly determined to win.

In the glitz and excitement of today, I sometimes wonder if we forget yesterday and how we got here. Have we forgotten the committed community who pulled together in 1876 with one building, a handful of dedicated individuals and a commitment to higher educational excellence to form the University of Oregon? Do we remember the committed alumni, from the first five who formed the UO Alumni Association in 1879 to the 5,000+ graduates of 2012, who pour their heart and soul into this institution? At our very core is this amazing institution … the University of Oregon.

And it’s this incredible institution that laid the foundation for everything we all enjoy about our alma mater today: from the stellar research done here and the incredibly transformative teaching to the wonderful student experience and the amazing excellence we now attain in our athletic programs. I think it’s important to pause and remember those who came before us and plowed the field in order that we can enjoy the harvest.

What I witnessed on the Autzen football field during the lean years of the ’80s were hard-working teams plowing excellence in UO athletics. One by one, the attributes associated with a successful football program came through. Well-trained and dedicated athletes attracted other disciplined athletes who set lofty goals and diligently pursued them. They built well-oiled teams that worked harder season after season.

But it was the attribute of perseverance those teams exhibited that has always resonated with me. They pushed forward, and it started paying off for UO football. A little at first. Then a lot. That spirit of dogged determination seems to be embedded in the DNA of the University of Oregon. Our predecessors of 1876 had it. They persevered when many others probably wanted to give up on the idea of another university in this state. And that same persistence is paying off as we continue to advance a mission of academic excellence at this institution.

While we watch our talented student-athletes take the field this term, let’s cheer them on to victory. At the same time, let’s remember our alma mater and the committed people who persevered when it wasn’t easy, helping to create the very excellence of today.


Summer at the UO - June 2012

If you were like me, when you attended the UO you didn’t end up living on campus during the summer. Summer was the time you returned to reality. Friends would separate, return home, work, and see friends and family. The life of campus during the summer is definitely unique, but often not viewed by students. 

At the end of my last academic year, I was in a car accident and had to drop a number of classes. That meant I needed to return in the fall. And that I would unexpectedly be in Eugene that summer. What a fun summer it was. By the end of June, the weather started to turn and the grey clouds melted away. This orange ball of fire emerged in the sky. And the mood of the entire campus community, as small as it was, seemed to change overnight. You could see how happy everyone was with the sunshine. People moved at a decidedly slower pace. And everywhere I went, people were just in a great mood. 

I was experiencing the beauty of Oregon in the summer. Now, after twenty-seven of those summers, I know them for what they are: true heaven on earth. 

I was also experiencing the beauty of the UO campus during summer. The quad wasn’t rain-soaked. You didn’t need raingear to cross campus. Frisbees were flying everywhere. And it seemed like every single plant on campus was blooming into miraculously stunning arrangements. 

I had just met my soon-to-be wife a few weeks before that summer began. So for me, there was an extra-special beauty in those summer months. By the end, I was not only preparing for fall term, but for our wedding which took place mere days after that last final in December, 1985. 

So if you were one of the fortunate few who had the opportunity to enjoy our wonderful campus on one of those fantastic Oregon days, consider yourself blessed. And if you did not have that opportunity, there’s still time … come visit this summer. Stop by the Ford Alumni Center, roam campus and visit the EMU. And why you’re at it, throw a Frisbee and lay in the lawn for a few minutes. 

You’ll experience heaven’s campus on earth. 

Enjoy your summer fun!




Fine Dining at the UO - May 2012

“Lunch at the dorm?” my wife said hesitantly when I suggested that we meet for lunch here on campus a couple of days ago. I assured her that they aren’t dorms from the ’80s and encouraged her to join me for a custom-made stir-fry lunch in the residence hall next to the Ford Alumni Center. She did, and it was absolutely delicious. 

Her response was typical of many alums, when I inform them that I eat at the residence halls all the time. Of course, their responses are based on memories of when we were enrolled at the University decades ago and our menu choices were selected from leftovers of the Eisenhower administration. 

The dining selections available at the University today are truly amazing and very much indicative of a rapidly changing student population. One can enjoy a fresh salad bar with ingredients grown locally. There’s a Panini bar that lures me in at least once a week. And the Erb Memorial Union has options for every diner’s preference, from vegan and vegetarian to gluten-free and carnivorous. 

Equally amazing is the variety and quality of dining event options available through University Catering, the University of Oregon’s exclusive caterer. Our Alumni Association works with this group for functions at the Ford Alumni Center, and its catering staff, made up of chefs trained at premier culinary institutes, has stunned our guests by presenting everything from a s’more station to handmade sushi rolls. 

I trust you will enjoy reading the articles in this issue about cuisine and the UO. And next time you find yourself in Eugene, stop by the Erb Memorial Union or one of the residence halls (yes, the dining halls are open to the public), and enjoy some of the delicious and wonderfully prepared food. 


Favorite Things About the UO - April 2012

I remember the first time I drove over the Ferry Street Bridge on my way to visit the University of Oregon campus. My dad was in the car, and we turned onto Franklin Boulevard, making our way to Agate Street. I really didn’t know what to expect. Being a kid from a small, central Oregon town, the change of scenery was truly impressive. Arriving at the University’s Oregon Hall, we walked and explored the vast campus.

My first image, and one I still remember, was the Pioneer Father statue across from Johnson Hall. It really stood out for me. And for my dad. You see, he was a metal shop teacher by day and a metal artist by night. The statue of the Pioneer still stirs up a lot of overwhelming emotion within me and remains one of my most favorite monuments at the University.

There are so many wonderful aspects of this campus that it’s difficult to zero in and focus on a handful. It’s sort of like asking a person to share a favorite family memory. I love the gathering of Ducks in the University’s quad on a warm spring day, the smell of books in the Knight Library, the vibes felt when walking down 13th Street, the energy surging through my body when I run on the track at historic Hayward Field, and the smile on my face when I hear Frog in front of the Duck Store say, “Have you seen the funniest joke book in the world?”

I enjoyed reading the submissions from our alumni about their favorite things at the University of Oregon. With each Duck’s story, I am reminded of how incredibly beautiful, amazing and transformational it is at this place. As alumni, we have a unique appreciation for every detail of the University of Oregon’s beauty.

On behalf of your Alumni Association, I would like to remind you to come, visit and reconnect with your UO experience. If you haven’t been back, you really owe it to yourself to visit your alma mater. You’ll find it amazing … like the first time you arrived.

Art and Business - March 2012

Dear Alumni ~ 


As I walk the halls of the new Ford Alumni Center, I find myself appreciating everything about this magnificent facility. I am so thankful to our donors for making this dream come to life.


Many times I catch myself staring at the amazing artwork in this spectacular building. One of my favorite pieces is a large abstract painting of the forest, by Lucinda Parker. All of the magnificent art pieces subtly remind me of how the University of Oregon guided me and changed the trajectory of my life …


When I enrolled at this University, I wasn’t sure of the direction my studies should take. I had a love of business and a love of art. It was a strange combination, for sure. So I began to explore my options and signed up for some art classes, one of which was a life drawing course. A few weeks into the session, the life drawing instructor looked over my shoulder and gently said, “I think you’re in the wrong school.”


Needless to say I was taken back a bit. “Look,” the instructor continued, “fine artists interpret what they see, not attempt to replicate it.” He told me my drawing was fine; it matched the model. But since I was trying to reproduce and not construe what I was seeing, he went on to tell me that I might be more satisfied with commercial art, or advertising.


This wonderful art instructor (I cannot remember his name) took the time to set up a meeting with a counselor in the School of Journalism and Communication. There, I learned all about the career of advertising … a career that magically blended my love of business and of the artistic, creative process. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.


That’s one more thing I love about this enchanting place we call the University of Oregon: It’s a community in which those who teach care enough to go beyond their call of duty and mentor young students, helping them to find their way. That doesn’t happen everywhere. But it happens here.


Every time I see the magnificent artwork in the wonderful Ford Alumni Center, I am reminded of my personal transformation. If you haven’t already done so, take time to migrate home to the University of Oregon, and be reminded of the journey and personal transformation you underwent while attending our alma mater.


Warm remembrances,





Equal Parts Head and Heart - February 2012

Dear Alumni Friends,


John Lennon expressed it with such simple wisdom: “All we need is love.” That statement is especially true as we celebrate Valentine’s Day this February 14. I think it’s equally amazing that Oregon became a state on this day in 1859 and that we intentionally dedicate an entire day to the concept of love. Love and all it brings is essential to our species; it is the essence of humanity. 


When I was a young boy, I loved watching the original “Star Trek” television shows with my dad. In the series (for those of you who aren’t Trekkies or, heaven forbid, never watched the show), the Mr. Spock character, born on the fictional planet Vulcan, was half-human, half-Vulcan – a species that had intentionally evolved emotions out of its way of life. Spock’s counterpart was Captain Kirk, a character prone to bursts of emotion … including many amorous adventures with alien women across the universe. Through those emotions – love in particular – the TV series defined what it meant to be human. 


How does this link to the University of Oregon? Because our alma mater knows that educating the whole person goes beyond the classroom and recognizes students’ emotional well-being, a much better liberal education can be attained at the University. Outside of the classroom is where we alums all made strong emotional connections with people from all different facets of the human experience. And it’s those powerful emotive connections that continue to enrich our lives. 


I love hearing stories from alumni who keep in touch with friends they made while each attended the University of Oregon. Many built relationships here that have lasted decades. I am reminded of three UO alumni my wife, Lisa, and I met while traveling through Italy a number of years ago. These women, along with three others who have since passed away, were undergraduates together at the University in the ’50s. After obtaining their degrees, they moved to different parts of the country but remained involved in each other’s lives. They supported and encouraged one another during the highs of life – marriages and births – as well as the lows – divorces and deaths.


While visiting with them, we learned that they had vacationed together almost every year, for more than forty years, since leaving the University. Their relationships were held together by an emotional bond of affection, a seed of love planted in their lives at the University of Oregon. 


That seed changed them. And it changes all of us who have gone through this wonderful place called the University of Oregon. It changed me. 


As with many of our alumni, I found my life-partner right here at the University of Oregon. (You can read that story in the Love Notes section of this newsletter) I, too, continue to cherish the relationships I made with people I met while we attended the University. Yes, my formal education prepared me and taught me how to think critically. But these alumni who are still part of my life taught me how to take that education and use it to become a better person. 


And that’s just one more of the many reasons for why I love the University of Oregon. 


Happy Valentine’s Day!


Live long and prosper,




Tim Clevenger

Executive Director