While it’s unlikely that Douglas County’s timber industry will ever return to its “glory days,” the Ford Family Foundation once again reminded us how that industry continues to influence our quality of life.
With a mission dedicated to “successful citizens and vital rural communities,” the Roseburg-based Ford Family Foundation last week pledged $1.5 million to Umpqua Community College to build a $17 million Health, Nursing and Science Center.
The pledge is contingent upon UCC’s ability to raise an equal amount toward construction of the planned 36,000-square-foot center.
“A grant this size is very unusual for us,” said Ford Foundation President Anne Kubisch. “We are doing this because this is our hometown and because Kenneth Ford and the foundation have always had a special commitment to Roseburg.”
It was also important that the foundation saw a commitment to the project from administrators and board members of both UCC and its own foundation.
“We needed to see evidence that they were vested in this effort,” said Kubisch. “The fact that every member of the UCC foundation board had made a financial commitment was critical to our pledge.”
“I think Ford saw the multi-faceted benefits to the project,” said UCC Trustee Betty Tamm. “It will provide better trained people in the medical field and more training opportunities in a wider range of curricula. I also think they (Ford Foundation board members) recognized the power of leverage and how a big local investment would help bring in outside money and more donations.”
The state has committed $8.5 million, or half the money, for the center provided UCC can come up with the balance by February.
“We are at $3.2 million now with $2.2 million in pending ‘asks,’” said UCC Foundation CEO Dennis O’Neill. “The board (UCC) has approved a closing loan of $3 million to $3.5 million amortized over 20 years. The loan would be offset at this point by an increase in student fees up to $6 per student, but that’s not set in stone yet.”
The Ford Family Foundation — which has donated tens of millions of dollars since it started in 1957 — has grown from its modest roots in a single sawmill opened by Kenneth W. Ford in 1936. The company is now known as Roseburg Forest Products and is one of the largest family-owned wood products manufacturers in the nation.
Kenneth W. Ford and his wife Hallie (who was a teacher) felt a sense of responsibility to their community, understanding the fundamental concept that we reap what we sow.
And as Roseburg and Douglas County continue to face significant economic challenges, we are fortunate to have the Ford Family Foundation willing to invest in a better tomorrow.
Let’s follow the lead of the Ford Family Foundation and not just match the grant, but exceed it so less of a burden falls on current and future students. Consider buying a brick, a paver, maybe a tree, or a bench to support the cause. Find more information now at www.umpqua.edu/hns-center-campaign or call Robynne Wilgus, executive assistant to the president, at 541-440-4622, or stop by the foundation office in Room 107 of the Technology Center.
Contribute for the health of your community. You’ll be glad you did.