Donor helps middle income Oregonians realize college dreams

EUGENE, Ore. -- (Sept. 15, 2011) -- Some middle income Oregonians will get help paying for a University of Oregon education next year, thanks to a major gift from UO alumna Mary Corrigan Solari. She has funded $5 million in new scholarships for at least 250 students. The Mary Corrigan and Richard Solari Scholarship awards will be for $5,000 per year, renewable for up to four years.

"I wanted to help Oregonians caught in the middle," said Corrigan Solari. "I have been acutely aware of the many middle class parents who have been struggling to finance their children's education. In order to help alleviate the situation, I wanted to establish scholarships for graduates of Oregon high schools so they can attend the University of Oregon. A college degree means a better future for them."

College freshmen enrolling in 2012 and 2013 can apply for the $5,000 scholarships. They must attend all four years of high school in Oregon to qualify. They must also be eligible for a Dean's Scholarship (high school GPA of 3.60). UO tuition and fees will cost $8,190 this year.

"We are grateful to Mrs. Corrigan Solari for recognizing the urgent need to educate Oregonians," said University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere. "It is especially critical in these difficult economic times that we attract and help support aspiring students. Mary and her late husband Richard have generously supported the University of Oregon for many years. Her gift will make a tremendous difference in the lives of students and their families."

Scholarship recipients who maintain a 3.0 GPA and take at least 12 credits per term can renew their scholarships for up to four years.

The scholarships will be awarded only to students from middle-income families, rather than those that are either affluent or eligible for federal Pell grants, which are limited to students from low-income households. But applicants for the Solari scholarships still must show financial need, as defined by Free Application for the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

"With this new scholarship program, we can continue our emphasis on educating Oregon's best and brightest," said Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Roger Thompson. "As the flagship institution of this state, it is critical to the University of Oregon, and more broadly, the Oregon economy, that we keep our talented high school seniors in the state for higher education. We are particularly interested in attracting these talented students to the University of Oregon."

Longtime donor Mary Corrigan Solari grew up in Klamath Falls. She graduated from the UO in 1946 with a degree in psychology, and went on to work for NBC Radio, Radio Free Asia and Bechtel Engineering before marrying Richard Solari and raising three daughters. She now lives in Aptos, Calif.

Corrigan Solari and her late husband Richard have given generously to the University of Oregon to support Presidential Scholarships and the UO Libraries, establishing endowments to fund the university historian-archivist position, information technology, library instructional services, faculty development and digital library resources. They also donated to the Knight Library expansion during the late 1980s.

Richard Solari served as president, CEO and board chairman of Granite Construction Company, a heavy civil general contractor and construction material producer headquartered in Watsonville, Calif. The company, founded in 1922 and publicly traded since 1990, specializes in transportation infrastructure projects.

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.

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