$12 million

By The Beacon | March 21, 2007 9:00pm

Donald and Darlene Shiley bestow UP with the largest donation in the school's 105-year history

By Jordan Stone

UP livened up a weary campus community returning from spring break by announcing the donation of the largest monetary gift to the school in its 105-year history: $12 million for a major renovation to the engineering building. The building overhaul is scheduled to take place over the next two to three years and could start as early as this summer.

Donald Shiley, a 1951 graduate from the UP school of engineering, and his wife Darlene gave the money to the school in response to seeing the lackluster engineering building during a campus visit last spring.

"When they gave us a tour back in May this was development gold," Darlene Shiley said.

Upon viewing the various air conditioning units and blinds in disarray and lack of space, Darlene Shiley thought the UP administration must have been up the night before "messing this place up."

The newly renovated building will be reconstructed and transformed from its current L-shape into a rectangular shaped building. Darlene Shiley ensured that the brick masonry would be preserved to keep the historic look of the building.

The key elements of interior renovation will be adding additional classrooms, advancing lab space and technology, and upgrading electrical, water and heating / cooling systems, according to the Rev. William Beauchamp, CSC. The facelift on the outside will be extensive, with significant work to accent the stairwells and increase natural light inside the building.

The building, which was originally constructed in 1949 for about $450,000, will soon don the Shiley name.

Donald Shiley invented a revolutionary heart valve. The artificial heart valve, know as the Bjork-Shiley tilting disc heart valve, was developed by Shiley and Swedish heart surgeon Viking Bjork and has been shipped all over the world.

UP awarded Donald Shiley with an honorary doctorate last May. Darlene Shiley said the "family feel" of the UP community was a reason why she and her husband considered the donation a deserved gift for the University.

Shiley said the donation "will simply be the start" of their involvement with the University.

University regents, alumni, administrators and students joined Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski to celebrate this moment in UP history.

"Each investment in education pays dividends," Kulongoski said.

University President the Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., stated that "education is a process of constant renewal and constant growth," and expects this gift to allow UP to grow significantly in ways previously unimagined.

Engineering professor Aziz Inan acknowledges that small private universities like UP rarely see gifts of this proportion.

"Donations are always sought by education institutions," Inan said. "Donations in the millions were dreams to us."

Inan has seen more renowned institutions like Stanford University receive million-dollar gifts from the likes of Bill Gates and Hewlett Packard, and believes these large financial donations help attract better quality students.

He remains excited about the possibilities for the engineering building as the University goes through what he calls a "critical moment."

Sophomore engineers Kyle Kirsch and Jeremy Fisher were astounded by the amount of money and look forward to its many uses.

"[This is] a great opportunity to expand our resources," Fisher said.

"I am excited to see what they are going to do with the money," Kirsch added.

The students also appreciate the fact that UP alumni give back to the school, even 56 years after graduation.

"At a private institution it is definitely more personal and shows that the alumni really do care," Kirsch said.

Upon receiving the gift, the University bestowed the Shileys with an honorary plaque that acknowledged them as "new founders" of UP.