Construction cranes dot the sky from Dad's Gate to Hayward

By Anthony St. Clair, Eugene-based freelance writer
First appeared in UO Giving

Brown leaves crunch underfoot, and low clouds hide the sky—but there may be hints of blue to come. Students talk and smile, or review a book or device as they make their way to the next class, meeting, or lab. Throughout the UO campus, construction equipment beeps and rumbles.

This might be the home of the Ducks, but right now campus is the home of the cranes—construction cranes, that is. They dot the sky from Dad's Gate to Hayward. 

Work continues on the new $39 million Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, the upcoming hub for the College of Arts and Sciences, scheduled to open in fall 2019. The $1 billion Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact rises toward its 2020 opening date, when the new complex will begin accelerating the process of turning scientific discoveries into societal benefits. Also opening in 2020, a brand-new Hayward Field will build on Track Town’s history while attracting athletes and fans to the “Finest Track and Field Facility in the World.” This fall, the university celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Black Cultural Center at East 15th Avenue and Villard Street. All this activity and excitement is only possible thanks to donors’ support. 

Momentous as they are, however, these donor-funded projects are not what have brought me to campus. I’m seeing the UO’s future rise all around me. But I’m also aware that past donor support helped build campus facilities that are now complete—and making a tangible difference. 

My path today takes me to three projects—one turning 10 years old, and two renovations that were completed this fall. The College of Education celebrates the 10th anniversary of the HEDCO Education Building this year. Students and faculty members in the Robert D. Clark Honors College are enjoying a fully renovated Chapman Hall. And in Pacific Hall, new science labs have opened and other renovations continue. 


Straight modern lines and tall windows contrast with the brick of the HEDCO Education Building, but that’s just one small way it stands out—both on campus and in its field. Teaching, research, and clinical space combine for educators, psychologists, therapists, and scientists to prepare students for their future, aid families, create best practices used around the world, and connect research and the broader community. It’s the equivalent of a teaching hospital for social services.

The project began thanks to a $10 million pledge in 2004 by California's HEDCO Foundation. Enabled in part by the foundation’s president, Dody Dornsife Jernstedt, BA ’69, MA ’70 (communication disorders and sciences), that pledge helped secure the 2005 Oregon legislature's authorization of $19.4 million in general obligation bonds. All told, $29.2 million in donor gifts covered 60 percent of the cost to make HEDCO a reality. Construction began in 2007, and the 65,000-square-foot HEDCO Education Building opened in 2009.

Today, students sit in booths and type on laptops surrounded by notes and books. Movable tables in the Lisa Brown Classroom have been arranged for discussion. Golden afternoon sunlight shines on the green courtyard and brightens the inner corridors through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Classrooms have been designed for discussion and active learning. A hearth area and coffee shop help foster a sense of community and encourage informal learning experiences. From the ground up, it’s been designed to advance the mission of the College of Education. 

In the HEDCO Clinic, located in the south wing of the building, UO students gain practical experience serving individuals and families under the supervision of faculty members.

“The total effect of the HEDCO Clinic is immeasurable,” says Wendy Machalicek, associate professor of special education and interim director of the clinic. “Approximately 9,000 visits are held in the HEDCO Clinic each year, and hundreds of undergraduates and graduate students in a variety of College of Education programs participate in supervised delivery of clinical services. 

“The clinic now houses five subspecialty clinical services that are both integral to our academic program offerings in the College of Education and in providing research-based assessment and intervention to the greater Eugene community. This new building has accelerated everything we do.”


From HEDCO I cross north to the Memorial Quad and Chapman Hall, home of the newly remodeled Clark Honors College (CHC). State bonds funded $8 million of the project’s $10.5 million price tag—with the caveat that the UO would have to match $2.5 million of the funds in order to receive the allocation. Donations from alumni and various private sources poured in.

The newly renovated Chapman Hall opened this fall. By all accounts, the project has accomplished its goals—making the interior more unified, creating a strong identity for the college, adding more room to grow, and creating a building that fosters a scholarly community. 

From the outside, the brick building—right down to its original windows—remains true to the original 1939 Works Progress Administration project. Inside, however, rich woodwork combines with new flooring and a more fluid, functional layout that was designed with interaction, collaboration, and today’s technology needs foremost in mind.

Downstairs, I take a seat at the spacious, cozy hearth and wait for the dean, Gabriel Paquette, who joined the CHC faculty this year. I reflect that the hearth must be the heart of Chapman Hall. How wrong I am. In fact, the honors college is the heart of the university. 

Dean Paquette approaches Chapman based on the goal behind early fundraising efforts: define CHC’s identity so everyone could understand it better.

“The new Chapman centralizes CHC students who are also spread all over campus for their respective disciplines,” says Paquette. “Community forms here. These top students go to the rest of campus and lift up everyone.”

“I first came in the day of Chapman’s reopening,” he says. “I immediately realized this space was designed with student learning in mind, with members of a core faculty who see themselves as dedicated mentors.”

Smaller class sizes of 15 to 19 enable discussion. Walls lined with chalkboards and graphed wipe-boards aid interaction and study in classrooms and common areas. The Shephard Family Library inspires students with an entire wall of shelves displaying past theses. A student kitchen has cooking, food storage, and prep space along one wall, computers along the opposite wall, and tables in the middle.

“We are at an edge of campus, yet we are part of the center,” explains Paquette. “It’s a historical corner, where we become a reflection and distillation of the UO’s finest qualities. The renovated Chapman Hall makes the honors college the UO’s college in all senses.”


For a moment, I’m back in high school. Low, narrow pink corridors (but thankfully no lockers). Gray concrete floors in lecture room 123. After serving generations of students, Pacific Hall—the university’s original science building—was ready for transformation. This fall, renovations to the lower three floors of the south wing are complete. 

That high school haze falls away when I step into a wide, tall, brightly lit, white-walled hallway. With labs on both sides, open doors and wide windows invite respectful observation. Inside, faculty and grad students pursue research projects. Undergraduates also participate in the “hands-on experiential learning that the UO takes pride in,” says Hal Sadofsky, associate dean of natural sciences. 

Pacific’s mix of old and new is a sign of progress during an approximately $20 million renovation, sparked by a $7 million donation from Cheryl Ramberg Ford, class of 1966, and Allyn Ford in 2016. Earlier this year, sixteen new labs opened. While the exterior of the UO’s original science building remains, further renovations finish in 2019, and other planned updates need donor support.

After Willamette and Streisinger Halls were built, labs shifted to more modern facilities. However, UO science majors have increased, and research excellence is a priority. Returning labs to Pacific means better projects, better people, and a more interconnected scientific ecosystem.

“Our sciences aren’t the country’s largest,” says Sadofsky, “but they are possibly the most interdisciplinary. That’s one of UO’s strengths. 

We’re already seeing surprising hallway conversations between students due to the interdisciplinary nature of the building.”
In between classes, UO junior Shakira Harris sits on a wooden bench set into the wall.

“I like the new labs,” she says, “but the bathrooms could use an update.”

Harris is hopeful that classrooms and lecture halls will be updated, but she’s glad donor-driven renovation is helping students be more prepared.

“We get introduced to new technology that we’ll need for medical school, along with more hands-on experience,” says Harris. “It’s one step at a time though. They’re trying.”

I wander back across campus, taking in buildings old, new, and renewed. At every step, donor support has enabled new learning, new discoveries, new facilities, new faculty members, and new opportunities throughout the University of Oregon. It’s a reminder that generosity, like renewal, is always in season.