Good news for UO's Comic Studies minor

EUGENE, Ore. – (Dec. 3, 2013) – Scholars and student-explorers of the world of comic strips and graphic novels in the University of Oregon's groundbreaking Comics & Cartoon Studies program have received some great news.

The program will benefit from a significant financial investment from a private donor who chose to remain anonymous — $50,000 per year for four years, to create a $200,000 endowment. The money will help sustain the UO's undergraduate minor in Comics and Cartoon Studies, which launched a year ago as the first academic minor of its kind in the country.

“We’ve developed a wide-ranging curriculum, drawing on talented scholars from multiple disciplines — including art, art history, comparative literature, east Asian languages and literatures, English, ethnic studies and romance languages,” said UO English Professor Benjamin Saunders, director of the Comic Studies program. “Just next term we are offering an exciting course on the way comics can help children to express and process real-life challenges.

"Our benefactor has recognized our efforts, and has inspired us to do even more with this generous gift,” Saunders said.

The UO Comics Studies endowment is expected to help bring creators, teachers, publishers and other professionals from the world of comics to the UO campus for classroom visits and lectures.

“We need to keep building our relationship with comics creators,” Saunders said. “Who can better advise the next generation of creative storytellers in this field, after all?”

The funds will also help finance more comics-related art exhibitions at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Previous exhibitions curated by Saunders have drawn thousands of visitors from across the UO campus and the wider community. 

But Saunders thinks the importance of the investment is more than financial.

“It’s a sign of faith in the cultural value of the comics form itself,” he said. “Comics constitute a remarkably successful mode of communication, with a history that is at least as old as print culture, and a global reach that includes most of the nations of the world. This private investment in our program is evidence that we are doing something important and worthwhile.”

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: Joe Mosley, UO media relations, 541-346-3606,

SOURCE: Benjamin Saunders, director of UO Comic Studies, 541-346-0062,

Note: The University of Oregon is equipped with an on-campus television studio with a point-of-origin Vyvx connection, which provides broadcast-quality video to networks worldwide via fiber optic network. In addition, there is video access to satellite uplink, and audio access to an ISDN codec for broadcast-quality radio interviews.