UP mourns loss of Benefactor, Donald Shiley

By The Beacon | September 10, 2010 9:00pm

UP alumnus and benefactor Donald Shiley with wife, Darlene Shiley. (Photo courtesy of Brian Doyle)

By Hannah Gray, News Editor -- gray12@up.edu

UP alumnus and benefactor Donald P. Shiley passed away on July 30.

"It's a loss," said Fr. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., the president of UP. "He was ill, but it's still a loss."

While most UP students likely associate him with the engineering building that bears his name, Shiley, an engineer, had an even more profound legacy: He co-invented the life-saving Bjork-Shiley heart valve.

"The man invented things that saved probably half a million lives – which means he helped give children back their dads and moms, he gave children back to their parents, he gave husbands back to their wives – wow," said Brian Doyle, the editor of Portland Magazine, in an email.

He was born in Yakima, Wash. in 1920 and enrolled at the University of Portland in the late 1940s. A graduate of the class of 1951, Shiley got his bachelor's degree in engineering, after serving in the U.S. Navy.

Shiley and his wife, Darlene Shiley, supported many institutions, including UP.

They donated $12 million to the renovation and expansion of the Engineering Hall in 2007.

Last fall, the engineering building was dedicated and renamed Donald P. Shiley Hall.

Shiley Hall was acknowledged as a national model of sustainable engineering.

The building, acknowledged as a national model of sustainable engineering, has won several awards and earned an LEED Platinum certification. Shiley Hall is one of 25 buildings on college campuses nationwide and one of 313 buildings worldwide to achieve the LEED certification.

"Wonderful man, quiet, deft, curious, creative," Doyle said. "He made millions of dollars by using his great talents, but it wasn't money that interested him – it was creativity, inventing, solving problems."

Donald Shiley is survived by his wife, Darlene, four children, and five grandchildren