By Angelica True /// Staff Writer
Last month, in mid-January, local philanthropist and education enthusiast, Lorry Lokey, donated two million dollars to Lewis & Clark College. The gift, which is the largest the college has received from a living individual in ten years, will go to reward the work of outstanding LC faculty.
Lokey generated a multimillion-dollar fortune through Business Wire, a press release dissemination company, he founded in 1961. At age 87, Lokey is determined to give his fortune away. He has already donated some 700 million dollars to educational institutions and charities.
In a statement to The Oregonian Lokey said: “I’d rather give money away now while I can take joy and pleasure in seeing it make a difference.”
While Lokey donated large portions of his fortune to local colleges, it originally appeared to Vice President for Institutional Advancement Hal Abrams that LC would not be one of them.
“He actually told me that he had made his decisions on his giving and wasn’t really interested in doing more, but he then left the door open by indicating that he would be willing to share his love for philanthropy,” Abrams said. “If he could help us inspire other people to give, he would consider coming and talking to our supporters and our donors.”
Lokey’s desire to spread his philanthropic spirit was the genesis for the Lorry Lokey Faculty Excellence Award Program, which Abrams worked with numerous faculty members to create.
“I shared an idea to find a way to help us retain and attract top faculty and so [that is how we came up with] the idea of a Faculty Excellence Fund,” Abrams said.
Last April, Lokey gifted the college an initial 150,000 dollars for the first round of award recipients who were: Katherine Fitzgibbon, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, Philosophy Professor Rebecca Copenhaver, and Biology Professor Kellar Autumn.
In January, Lokey endowed the program with funds he obtained from selling his San Francisco home.
“He was so excited to help Lewis & Clark, among all the other institutions that he has been in contact with and been involved with, that the funds that actually were used came from the selling of his home. He decided he would sacrifice his own personal convenience to give to Lewis & Clark,” Abrams said.
The awards will serve to recognize and encourage the work of LC faculty who are distinguished by their dedication to their students and the institution, like recent recipient Copenhaver.
“I felt tremendously grateful to Mr. Lokey and to my community,” Copenhaver said. “The Lokey award reflects what makes being a professor so exciting and so exhausting. A professor is a teacher, of course. But she is also a scholar and a colleague. To be recognized as a teacher, and as a scholar, and as a community member makes me very proud, especially because I know I didn’t do any of this alone. Everything I have done, I have done because Lewis & Clark has made it possible.”
In addition, Copenhaver, who is on sabbatical this year said: “The award has given me the extra security to really focus on my work—I’m currently writing a book. The award has also given me the flexibility to accept invitations to speak abroad.”
Next month Copenhaver will be speaking at the University of York and the University of Leeds in England, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and finally, the University of Paris.
In addition to honoring quality faculty, Abrams hopes that Lokey’s attention to the college will encourage others to give. He says, “We are honored that he chose a school that he had never attended. He had never set foot on this campus prior but has an appreciation for liberal arts and an appreciation for education in the North West and wanted to invest in us. We’re hoping that that story will be a nice launching pad for us to reach greater heights with our fundraising. It will certainly be the centerpiece for future discussions about fundraising campaigns and other fundraising endeavors for the college.”
The Faculty Excellence awards will continue to be given each spring, with this year’s ceremony held on April 1.