Feb 09, 2015

Lee and Connie Kearney of Vancouver, Wash., have committed a $500,000 lead gift toward an initiative to develop Oregon State University - Cascades’ new campus as one that exemplifies energy conservation and is positioned for a net zero future.
“As OSU alumni and Central Oregon homeowners, Connie and I are very committed to the success of OSU-Cascades.  This sustainability initiative will provide a living laboratory for students and faculty interested in energy conservation and independence, and is very aligned with Central Oregon’s values,“ said Mr. Kearney.

Mr. Kearney a retired executive of Kiewit Construction, serves on the PeaceHealth board of directors.  He also serves on the advisory board of the Oregon State College of Engineering and is a member of the OSU Foundation’s campaign steering committee.  Mrs. Kearney is a retired attorney and served as a Clark County, Wash., commissioner, and its first female commissioner, from 1976 to 1980. She practiced poverty law and taught at Creighton University Law School in Omaha. She is a member of the Oregon 4-H Foundation board.

“This commitment marks a first significant step toward the creation of a campus that sets the standard for sustainability and net zero energy and resource use,” said OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson.  “We are thrilled by the Kearneys’ visionary leadership and their commitment to higher education in Central Oregon.  We are also deeply grateful that other Central Oregon leaders have pledged their support for this innovative vision of a sustainable future for OSU-Cascades.”

Rod Ray, former president and chief executive officer of Bend Research, and his wife Lori have also contributed to the $725,000 total initiative with a commitment of $75,000. Ray is a member of Capsugel and Bend Research’s scientific and business advisory board. 

In 2009 he served on a committee of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education that assessed higher education needs in Central Oregon.  An OSU alumnus, he also serves as a trustee of the OSU Foundation and is chair of the advisory board of the College of Engineering.  Mrs. Ray was vice president of Bend Research.  The couple has been engaged in many civic groups including Volunteers in Medicine and the Mount Bachelor Sports Education Foundation.

Further support comes from Deschutes Brewery, a long-time supporter of OSU-Cascades through its contributions to the campus’s Circle of Excellence and facilities expansion effort. Deschutes Brewery’s founder and CEO, Gary Fish, served as the inaugural chairperson for the Circle of Excellence. The brewery committed $50,000 towards the initiative.

Gifts will support sustainable design approaches for the campus’s first academic building, reducing energy demand as much as possible, and installing monitoring equipment that will help to motivate energy saving behavior by building occupants.  Design and mechanical features made possible through the gifts include a highly efficient building envelope; the highest efficiency heating and cooling systems; and functionality to incorporate solar, biomass and geothermal energy sources.  The design features will result in approximately 40 percent less energy usage compared to similar buildings built to meet energy code standards.

In a national survey of university students conducted by the Princeton Review in 2012, the majority said they valued a college’s commitment to the environment.

“A sustainable campus isn’t just about going green,” said Matt Shinderman, a senior instructor in natural resources who leads the sustainability degree program at the branch campus and served as co-chair of the OSU-Cascades Campus Expansion Advisory Committee. “It can also serve as a living laboratory for study and research, and attract students and faculty who care about energy and resource independence.”

About OSU-Cascades: Located in Bend, Ore., Oregon State University’s branch campus features outstanding faculty in degree programs that reflect Central Oregon’s vibrant economy and abundant natural resources. Eighteen undergraduate majors, 30 minors and options, and three graduate programs include computer science, energy systems engineering, exercise and sport science, hospitality management, and tourism and outdoor leadership. The branch campus plans to expand to a four-year university beginning fall 2015.