UO mourns Art DeMuro
Members of the university community expressed deep sadness at the loss of beloved UO supporter Art DeMuro, who died Sept. 8, in Portland at the age of 57. He was widely admired as a visionary leader in historic preservation who saved many iconic buildings in Oregon. In January, he made the following video to about his hope strengthening the field of historic preservation through a gift to the UO.
Read the gift announcement here.
DeMuro, founder and president of Venerable Group Inc., first became involved with the UO by helping to land and renovate the White Stag Block as its center of operations in Portland. The project, completed in 2008, transformed three disparate buildings that had fallen into disuse into a seamless whole that won acclaim as a model for green and sustainable historic preservation.
“It takes a very courageous and daring person to attempt a project of that kind and to pull it off so magnificently,” said UO President Emeritus Dave Frohnmayer. “I have never known anyone who did the kinds of projects that Art did. He turned them into works of art.”
Though DeMuro was not a UO alumnus, former UO Provost John Moseley considers him “a true Duck.” Moseley, who worked more closely with DeMuro on the White Stag project than any other UO official, said the Notre Dame graduate shared the UO’s values for historic preservation coupled with energy and cost efficiency, and always wanted to do what was best for the UO.
DeMuro’s personal involvement as a champion of the university deepened after White Stag’s completion. He joined the UO Portland Council and served on the Board of Visitors of the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts.
“Art’s deep commitment to preserving Portland's architectural past put him at the center of many critical conversations that have shaped its present and future,” said Kate Wagle, interim vice provost for UO in Portland and art professor. “He was a remarkable man; unfailingly gracious, gentle and generous, with a wellspring of patience and tenacity that has enhanced our environment by saving it, building by building, in a career that was rooted in meaningful values and culturally significant work.”
Earlier this year, DeMuro gave the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts $2.8 million to expand its historic preservation program in Portland and to establish the Venerable Chair in Historic Preservation at the university. At the time, he said he hoped the gift would help spread the seed of historic preservation.
“I just need to know that while I was here, I did everything I possibly could to support what I care about,” he said during a video interview about his gift. “Helping to raise the level of presence of the historic preservation department and to connect it to the city of Portland is the most that I can do.”
Kingston Heath, professor and director of the UO’s historic preservation program, said DeMuro’s gift already is helping to advance preservation studies and green preservation.
“He led by example,” Heath said. “He was extremely generous in his support of others’ well-conceived proposals, and he extended himself as mentor and friend. We have lost a rare individual.”
Frances Bronet, dean of the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts, said DeMuro’s professional passion was matched only by his passion for education.
“Art DeMuro was such an extraordinary man, loved by all of us,” said Frances Bronet, dean of the UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts. “He cared so much for all that is meaningful.”