Carolyn S. Chambers Sept. 15, 1931–Aug. 8, 2011

 Television pioneer Carolyn S. Chambers ’53 died Monday, Aug. 8, but her leadership and philanthropy will benefit University of Oregon students for generations to come. She was 79.

An emeritus president and trustee of the UO Foundation, Chambers spearheaded the university’s first major fundraising drive, the Oregon Campaign. She remained closely connected to the university throughout her life through her support of Oregon Athletics and her active involvement as an advisory board member and frequent donor to the Lundquist College of Business, the School of Journalism and Communication, and the School of Law.

“Carolyn was a one-of-a-kind Duck,” UO President Richard Lariviere wrote in a posting to  his blog. “We are a better community and a better university because of her loyalty and leadership.”

Chambers was the only woman in her class to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Oregon. In 1959 she launched KEZI-TV in Eugene. From there, she went on to create and lead a nationally prominent cable television company. When her husband Richard died in 1986, she became president of Chambers Construction. She also helped to pioneer Oregon’s wine industry as owner of Hinman Vineyards, Sylvan Ridge Winery, and Panther Creek Cellars.

Tim Gleason, Edwin L. Artzt Dean of journalism and communication, worked closely with Chambers for 20 years. He described her as passionate about helping UO students.

“She was always challenging us to build a better university and to serve students,” Gleason said. “She was a great mentor in that way.”

Gleason said Chambers and her family’s foundation made a pivotal difference for his school through gifts establishing its first major endowed professorships, a significant scholarship in electronic media, gifts to fund equipment purchases and the Carolyn Chambers Electronic Media Center.

“Her gift for the center was so important, not only for creating new production space, but because it made possible the first expansion of Allen Hall,” he said. “It came at a critical time and it was a real act of faith on her part.”

Deborah Morrison, the Chambers Distinguished Professor of Advertising, said Chambers was “an agent of change” who brought life to her city and state, leadership and good spirit to her university.

“Her vision came through in the professorship I hold,” Morrison said. “She and I agreed that a strong woman endowing a professorship held by a woman was indeed permission to do things differently. ‘Be bold with this opportunity,’ she told me. Her generosity and vision are the legacy I honor.”

Over the years, Chambers received the UO’s highest honors in recognition of her achievements and service. These include the Pioneer Award, the Presidential Medal, the Distinguished Service Award, and the Distinguished Alumni Award. She also received the Alumni Association's Webfoot Award, and the "Alumni Trailblazer" Visionaries Award from the Lundquist College of Business. In 2008, she was inducted into the Business Hall of Fame. In 2010, she received the law school’s Meritorious Service Award.

A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, in the Silva Concert Hall at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts.

Details about Chambers’ impact on the Lundquist College of Business and the School of Law.

Biography, including community service: