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Alumni Help Boost College’s Long-Term Resilience: Lundquist Launches $10 Million Fundraising Initiative

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all industries—higher education is certainly no exception. In the past several months, the Lundquist College of Business has shifted from a fully residential program to campuswide remote learning. Spaces in the Lillis Business Complex have been refurbished to comply with health and safety guidelines while faculty and staff worked tirelessly to redesign and fine-tune academic courses and student services.

It is in times like these that Dean Sarah E. Nutter relies even more heavily on the college’s Investors Fund, which is made up of unrestricted funds donated by alumni and friends. These types of gifts allow the college to maintain resilience in the face of unforeseen circumstances. What is more, flexible funds have been the spark behind some of our most successful programming over the years, enabling us to invest in new programming, fund critical operations within the college, and seize opportunities as they arise.

Now, thanks to private philanthropy, we are doing so much more than just adjusting. We are responding to the current situation in ways that will strengthen our programming going forward, and we continue our focus on providing access to an outstanding education for talented students regardless of their financial situation.

As we conclude the first term of an academic year like no other, it is clear that the investments that our alumni and friends will make over the next several months will dictate the success of the college for the next three to four years, if not longer. Therefore, Dean Sarah Nutter is launching an initiative aimed at raising $10 million in unrestricted support to ensure a bright future for the Lundquist College.

Humbled and heartened by the unwavering support of so many over the past several months, we have been especially inspired by three families who have stepped up to make a difference at this critical moment in time. Their generosity has jumpstarted this initiative.

Bob and Michele Poletti committed $1.25 million in endowed and expendable funding. A business alumnus and Lundquist College board member, Bob has seen firsthand how unrestricted funding has sparked innovative new programming at the college over the years. In establishing the endowed Poletti Fund for Excellence, the Polettis’ gift will continue to provide a reliable and transformative amount of support, year after year, in perpetuity. An expendable portion of the same fund is designed to also provide a short-term boost to the college’s discretionary funding.

Cathy and Dean Lemman supported Dean’s alma mater by making a $100,000 gift, which was split to bolster two key areas of need: the unrestricted Investors Fund, and a newly established Lemman Family Scholarship. In order for their gift to have the greatest immediate impact, the Lemmans opted to make their gift fully expendable. The first Lemman Scholarship awards were made just weeks after their gift arrived, instantly benefiting students whose academic journey is impacted by the pandemic.

An anonymous couple, who had previously established an endowed scholarship for MBA students, are generously earmarking $5 million in their estate to support the college where one of them received their MBA degree. By documenting this gift, they are leaving an impactful legacy that will support generations of business students, no matter what the future may hold and what opportunities it will bring. Furthermore, sharing their intentions now allows for their gift to be documented as part of the current fundraising campaign, helping to inspire others to do the same.

These three sets of donors made different, yet highly impactful gifts. Each helps to build a promising financial foundation for the future. As we remain laser-focused on providing our students with a top-notch education and all the tools they need to launch a successful and meaningful career, the college is grateful for the generosity of these alumni and friends. Their unrestricted gifts are key in helping Dean Nutter build out her vision of making the Lundquist College the premier undergraduate business program on the West Coast.

For more information or to make a gift in support of this initiative, please contact Kurt Zimmerman, Executive Director of Development, at or 541-346-5491. Many of our alumni choose to include the university in their wills. To learn more, please contact Jesse Visser, UO Executive Director of Gift Planning, at or 541-346-6084.