Oregon philanthropist leaves $8 million to OSU


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Hallie Ford, a noted Oregon philanthropist, made a gift of $8 million to Oregon State University shortly before she died, generously supporting a cause she advocated for throughout her lifetime—Oregon’s children and their families. Ford was 102 years old when she passed away on June 4.

Her final act of philanthropy will build the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, a facility on Oregon State University’s campus that will house a group of researchers who take a lifespan and preventive approach to child and family health. The gift will also create an endowment to recruit a nationally-acclaimed director.

“Through her philanthropy, Hallie Ford has provided opportunity to thousands of children and families throughout Oregon and the nation,” said Ed Ray, president of Oregon State University. “We are honored to create a legacy in her name through this new research center, which will continue her life’s work of service and caring for others.”

The Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families will be part of OSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. The center will support research and outreach programs that help children thrive, addressing such issues as early childhood development, school readiness, childhood obesity, as well as child, youth and family resiliency. The center, which is the only research cluster of its kind in Oregon and possibly the nation, will also address the needs of rural children and other vulnerable populations.

“What makes this unique is that our research looks at children’s health holistically, from neuron to neighborhood,” said Tammy Bray, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. “We take a multidisciplinary approach to understand the interactions of body and mind in the context of families, schools and communities.”

For example, in addressing the childhood obesity epidemic, researchers will look at the issue from the perspectives of physiology, nutrition, and psychology, examining exercise, diet, and behavioral factors in school and at home to understand the child’s entire environment. The same preventive and multidisciplinary approaches will be used to address other risky behaviors.

“My mother’s concern about children and their families prompted her to give this wonderful gift, with the goal of creating a center of excellence in this area,” said Carmen Ford Phillips, daughter of Hallie Ford.

Bray has high expectations for the center. “By bringing in a nationally-known director and enabling multidisciplinary collaboration through this new building, we will build capacity and increase our impact, establishing what I hope becomes a national model that truly carries on the spirit and legacy of Hallie Ford,” she said.

As a condition of the gift, OSU must raise an additional $2 million to support research and outreach activities for the center. University officials hope to complete this challenge in the next two years.

This gift comes at a time of tremendous momentum for Oregon State University and its fundraising efforts. In response to an ambitious strategic plan, alumni and friends have increased their support of the university, which is expected to announce a comprehensive campaign this fall. OSU officials say contributions are expanding the university’s work in three critical areas: enhancing OSU’s mission to provide a lifetime of opportunity for students, improving the quality of life for all Oregonians, and helping OSU find answers to pressing global challenges.

Hallie Ford was born in Red Fork, Okla., in 1905. In 1935 she married Kenneth W. Ford and moved to Roseburg, where she played an active role in establishing and growing Roseburg Lumber Company, currently known as Roseburg Forest Products Company. Hallie Ford’s philanthropy has supported thousands of education and arts causes throughout Oregon and beyond. Carmen Ford Phillips received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in 1959 and 1963 from OSU’s College of Home Economics, which is now part of the College of Health and Human Sciences.