CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two Oregon State University art professors have pledged a gift of $1 million to the university to establish an endowed professorship in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts.
The married couple – Henry Sayre, a distinguished professor who has also achieved success as an author, and Sandra Brooke, an assistant professor of art and noted artist – designed the gift to support a teacher/scholar with an interdisciplinary background.
The Henry Sayre and Sandra Brooke Professorship in Liberal Arts will be an expression of their appreciation for the university and a reflection of Sayre’s own career path at Oregon State, he said.
“I’ve spent my entire career at OSU and the university has indulged me by letting me teach all over the curriculum,” said Sayre. “My Ph.D. is in English, but I’ve taught art history and written about performance art, and that broad background is what we hope to capture through the endowed chair. Students have always appreciated the fact that lectures can be broader than one discipline.
“This pledge is our way of giving something back – to the students and the university.”
OSU President Ed Ray praised Sayre and Brooke for their scholarly achievements and for their generosity.
“Henry Sayre and Sandy Brooke are celebrated teachers and accomplished scholars who care deeply about their students,” Ray said. “Therefore, it is not surprising – but it is absolutely wonderful – that they have made this commitment to benefit future generations.”
Sayre is perhaps best known for his art appreciation text, “A World of Art,” and for his production of a multimedia teaching package for art appreciation – a project that was funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation and aired nationally on PBS. In 2006, Sayre wrote a children’s book on art called “Cave Paintings to Picasso: The Inside Scoop on 50 Art Masterpieces” that received an Oregon Book Award.
A new six-volume textbook series Sayre authored on the humanities is in production. Ten years in the making, the 1,700-page text published by Prentice Hall already is finding its way into college classrooms, where it serves as a blueprint for introductory humanities courses for freshmen and sophomore students. The first three volumes of “The Humanities: Culture, Continuity & Change” have been published; the final three volumes are due off the press in late November.
It is one of the few texts to take on art, literature, music and the humanities in a comprehensive manner, enlightening students about the classics as well as diverse, under-recognized artists. A CD set accompanies the volumes.
The new text already is receiving glowing reviews. Sonia Sorrell, the Luckman Distinguished Teaching Fellow at Pepperdine University, called it “an extraordinary accomplishment.”
“Sayre relates the political and cultural history of the periods as an engaging and compelling story,” she wrote. “Sayre writes in an accessible manner that will undoubtedly engage students. I would describe it as the best humanities text…that I have ever read.”
Brooke, who was a producer on the PBS special, is an accomplished painter. She has been in two national juried shows this year, and her work will be exhibited in a solo show at Willamette University starting Oct. 11. She has been serving as a student adviser at the OSU-Cascades Campus in Bend, where she and Sayre work.
The pledge from Sayre and Brooke reflects early momentum in the university’s first-ever, campus-wide campaign. Oregon State University and the OSU Foundation will officially launch “The Campaign for OSU” on Oct. 26. Guided by OSU's strategic plan, the campaign seeks private funds to enhance the university’s mission to provide opportunity for students, strengthen Oregon, and conduct research that changes the world, OSU officials say. Early momentum in the campaign includes more than 58 gifts of $1 million or more.
The OSU Foundation is the nonprofit organization chartered to raise and administer private funds in support of Oregon State University education, research and outreach. The foundation has assets of more than $570 million, and OSU has an endowment of more than $430 million, both of which provide direct support for the university and the people it serves.