OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Donor surprises student with $121,000 gift to OSU

12/08/2000

CORVALLIS - For Oregon State University student Adam Doern, it was the last call of the evening at his part-time job soliciting donations to the university through the OSU Foundation's telefund. It's a conversation he won't soon forget.

Doern's call was made to David Barnekoff, director of finance for Sun Microsystems, who agreed to make a donation to the university in the amount of $121,000. It was the largest phone pledge ever made to OSU.

"It was a big surprise," said Doern, who had only been on the job for about a week when Barnekoff made the pledge in early October. "Usually you get about $100. That's the standard pledge."

Barnekoff, a 1968 OSU graduate from the College of Business, had been considering making a donation to The Valley Library to help purchase books and periodicals for the School of Business. But it was the phone call from Doern that sealed the deal.

"I had been thinking about making a donation but I was doing my normal thing, hesitating and waffling," Barnekoff said. "Then Adam called on the phone and of all the students who have called me over the years he was the most articulate and well-prepared. He was very enthusiastic and seemed to be a guy with a high energy level and was very professional in the way he handled the call. It reminded me of why I'm making the contribution - students like him."

When Barnekoff explained that he was willing to pledge $121,000 to the university's library, Doern said he furiously began scribbling notes. Barnekoff had previously established a collection endowment fund at the library and wanted to increase the size of the fund.

"I read it back to him, to clarify the amount," Doern said. "I took all of the information down and then thanked him. Everyone else was packing up to go home and that's when I told my manager."

Brent Ditto, the telefund manager, said he was very surprised and double-checked the facts with Doern.

"I wanted to make sure he didn't write something down incorrectly," Ditto said. "I had never seen a pledge of that size."

After he told Doern he would pledge $121,000 for the collection endowment fund, Barnekoff said he could hear some hesitancy on the other end of the phone line.

"It caught him by surprise," Barnekoff said. "He did a good job on the phone. He deserved it. It's good to see that he was well-prepared. I don't know what they gave him to study before he made his calls, but he was the most well-prepared caller I have had from the university."

Karyle Butcher, university librarian and deputy vice provost for Information Services, said the gift is significant because the earnings from the Barnekoff Collection Endowment will provide a steady stream of funding for business-related materials.

"Dave's gift is both an endorsement of his belief in and support of the library and a recognition that top-tier teaching and research programs require top-tier library support," Butcher said.