Farmland means big yields for University of Oregon athletics and museum

EUGENE, Ore. -- (Feb. 8, 2012) -- University of Oregon facilities on both sides of the Willamette River will benefit from a gift from Alan and Jean Pedersen of Monterey, Calif. The alumni couple has donated 550 acres of Salinas Valley farmland worth an estimated $5 million. Half the proceeds will go to the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and half to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

In honor of the gift, the museum has renamed its signature exhibit space the Jean R. Pedersen Exhibit Hall. The gift is the largest in the museum’s 75-year history.

“We’re very grateful to the Pedersens and pleased that Jean’s name now graces our largest exhibit hall,” said Philip H. Knight Professor Jon Erlandson, the museum director. “This gift gives a tremendous boost to one of the most important initiatives in the museum’s history—our effort to create a $10 million endowment.”

The endowment is the museum’s top fundraising priority because it will provide stable, ongoing support for public programs, archeological research and the collections under the museum’s care. Erlandson said the Pedersens’ gift “moves us past the halfway mark toward this important goal.”

Athletics will use part of the gift to offset the cost of operating the new football operations building. Rob Mullens, director of intercollegiate athletics, said a coaches’ suite in the new facility will be named in the Pedersens’ honor. Construction has begun near the Casanova Center on the six-story structure, which is slated for completion in 2014. The rest will go toward general athletics funding at the discretion of the athletic director.

“We appreciate the generous support of Alan and Jean Pedersen,” Mullens said. “The Pedersens are long-time loyal Ducks and the impact of their contribution will be felt for many years. The Pedersens’ thoughtful gift will allow athletics to continue our drive toward academic and athletic excellence.”

Alan and Jean are members of the class of 1943. Alan pledged the Sigma Chi fraternity and Jean joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. In 1941, Alan joined the Navy as a pilot and was stationed in Norfolk, VA. They married in 1943.

The Pedersens have given generously to the university for many years, supporting the museum, athletics and scholarships. They also contributed to the Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn Ford Alumni Center.

 “We wouldn’t give if we didn’t think it was a good cause,” said Alan Pedersen. “We figured let’s give where it will do the most good. The gift to athletics is from both of us, but the donation to the museum is from Jean. That’s in her name, and I want her to be recognized for that.”

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of “Very High Research Activity” in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Brown, UO media relations, 541-346-3185,