Oregon State University’s College of Education has received a $2 million donation from the Joyce N. Furman Memorial Trust, which will enable the university to complete a major renovation and seismic upgrade to its historic Education Hall. Furman graduated from OSU in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in science education and was a longtime supporter of the university.
Furman passed away from metastatic melanoma in 2009. A passionate advocate for education and for children, she maintained a strong connection to her alma mater and formed a bond with OSU College of Education Dean Sam Stern, who had embarked on an ambitious, and some said, impossible journey to raise money for the restoration of Education Hall.
Bill Furman, Joyce’s husband, said his wife had made a gift toward the restoration of the building during the early stages of the effort and was extremely supportive of Stern and his commitment to the project, even taking the time to call him with words of encouragement.
In fact, it was Stern’s belief in an impossible dream that drew Furman to the project, because she was known for taking on impossible tasks and making them a reality.
“Her motto was ‘Leap and the net will appear,’” her husband said. So after Joyce’s death, Bill continued to cast an interested eye on the Education Hall project. It was Stern’s determination that finally convinced him to donate $2 million through the Joyce N. Furman Memorial Trust to help complete the building, which is currently in the throes of both a seismic upgrade and a major interior renovation. Plans are to name the building in honor of Joyce Furman, whose brother and sister also graduated from OSU.
Stern said he was privileged to get to know the Furmans during his earliest days as dean of the College of Education.
“I noticed right away the tremendous depth of Joyce’s caring for kids,” he said. “It is comprehensive. She was always thinking about the welfare of kids and all the different ways in which they can grow.
“I am thrilled that education at OSU will be associated with Joyce and Bill Furman,” Stern added. “It’s more than just the building, it’s about aligning our college with a deep commitment to kids and their education.”
An iconic structure at the campus’s east entrance, the renovated hall will blend historic charm with high-tech touches. The exterior seismic upgrades are being funded by the state, and the interior renovations are being funded by a combination of private donations and university funds.
Bill said Joyce was a passionate advocate for OSU, giving both time and money to a variety of causes on campus. She served on the steering committee for The Campaign for OSU and often brought Bill down from their home in Portland to attend football games, even getting him to wear orange sweaters after he lost a bet to her. He was fascinated with the old stone building where Joyce had taken her education courses.
“It became my school, whether I wanted that to happen or not,” Furman said, himself a graduate of Washington State University and now President and CEO of The Greenbrier Companies headquartered in Lake Oswego, Ore.
Joyce, who was a teacher and IBM systems analyst before meeting Bill, eventually became a full-time volunteer and philanthropist, devoting much of her life to the causes that pulled at her heart, including New Avenues for Youth, an organization which she co-founded to provide services to Portland’s homeless youth.
In addition to supporting the renovation of Education Hall, the Furman Trust has donated $500,000 to the OSU President’s Fund for Cultural Centers and $200,000 to a collaborative program between the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Oregon Humane Society. Earlier gifts from the Furmans supported a classroom in Education Hall, the Austin Entrepreneurship Program, and programs in the College of Liberal Arts.
The recent $2 million gift is part of The Campaign for OSU, the university’s first comprehensive fundraising initiative. Guided by OSU’s strategic plan, the campaign seeks $850 million to provide opportunities for students, strengthen the Oregon economy and conduct research that changes the world. More than $681 million has been committed to date.
~ Theresa Hogue