The Office of the President: University of Oregon

UO a place where people find passion and create futures

April 30th, 2010

Richard LariviereMany Oregonians look to public universities as a key to a better life. This is a space for you to tell your story — how public higher education and the University of Oregon has transformed your life. I’ll start by telling a bit of the UO’s history, as well as my own.

Public higher education has been at the forefront of our state’s ambitions since its founding. Included in the Oregon Act of Admission, passed into law February 14, 1859, was the promise to provide the land for a public university that ultimately became the University of Oregon’s home.

During the short time I’ve served as president, scores of Oregonians have told me how the UO transformed their lives. This is a place where people find a passion and create a future through enterprise, effort and hard work. This is the true mission — the true story — of public higher education.

It is also my story. I’m a proud first generation college graduate from the Midwest. My parents were hard-working people who wanted their children to have opportunities that were not available to them. I made it through the University of Iowa with summer and part-time jobs, (later) a brilliantly employable spouse, and the support of Iowa taxpayers who recognized the long-term benefits of subsidizing public higher education.

Today’s students seek the same opportunities but under much more challenging conditions. For many lower- and middle-class families the doors to higher education seem to be closing. This is why our effort to restructure the University of Oregon’s relationship with the state of Oregon is so important. Oregonians deserve the same life-changing opportunity that I had.

I can’t help but feel optimistic despite the national trends and current economic conditions. I know that our collective creativity, intellect, and commitment will ensure that the University of Oregon continues to fulfill its public responsibility.

What’s your story? Please share how the ability to attend institutions like the University of Oregon changed your life.