Lorry Lokey pledges $12.5 million for education project

Photo by Jack Liu

Donor Lorry Lokey, right, talks with Teri Geist, principal of Alameda Elementary School in Portland, which Lokey attended in the 1930s.

San Francisco businessman and philanthropist Lorry Lokey, who says his Portland elementary school teachers started him on the road to success, has pledged $12.5 million for new facilities to train future teachers in the University of Oregon College of Education.

Of the gift, $2.5 million is a challenge to other donors. If the college can raise that amount from other donors by June 30, 2007, Lokey will match it.

Lokey’s gift plus the matching funds from other donors would complete the financing for the $48 million project.

Lokey also has added a $1 million challenge gift to his earlier gifts totaling $4 million for the MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building. Lokey will contribute the $1 million if the university can raise the same amount from other donors by December 31, 2006. The additional $2 million would complete the financing for the School of Music and Dance’s renovation-expansion project.

In addition to his gifts for the education and music buildings, Lokey has given $4.5 million for the UO School of Journalism and Communication’s new George S. Turnbull Center in Portland. All told, Lokey has to date pledged $22 million to the University of Oregon to become one of its largest donors ever.

College of Education Interim Dean Michael Bullis said Lokey’s gifts to the College of Education, combined with others including a $10 million lead gift from the HEDCO Foundation, provide the necessary match for the $19.4 million in state bonding authority introduced by Gov. Ted Kulongoski and approved last year by the Oregon Legislature for the project.

“Because of Mr. Lokey’s timely donation, we will be able to move forward with our plans to start construction in the summer of 2007 and have the new complex ready for the 2009–2010 school year,” Bullis said.

“Where would any of us be if we did not have good teachers to inspire us?” Lokey asked. “I credit my elementary school, Alameda School in Portland, as the starting point for my success. I would not have made it without those teachers. That is why I wanted to support education in Oregon by contributing to an updated education building.”

The new College of Education complex will include 100,000 square feet of new teaching and research space in the HEDCO Education Building, to be constructed near the current college site, and renovation of existing space.

The first match for Lokey’s $2.5 million challenge gift for the education building was made by David Conley, professor of educational leadership in the College of Education. Conley’s research institute, the Educational Policy Improvement Center, made a $25,000 gift in addition to an earlier gift of $30,000.

Lokey, who grew up in Portland, is the founder and chairman of Business Wire, a leading global distributor of corporate news headquartered in San Francisco. The company was purchased in January by Berkshire Hathaway, the international business conglomerate headed by billionaire Warren Buffett.