OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Weatherford Awards honor notable entrepreneurs in Portland on Feb. 16

01/09/2012

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Hollywood screenwriter, a cookware innovator, a communications trailblazer and a wine entrepreneur are among the recipients of this year’s Weatherford Awards, Oregon State University’s annual celebration of lifelong and pioneering entrepreneurship and innovation.

The event will be held Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Hilton in downtown Portland.

Hosted by OSU’s Austin Entrepreneurship Program, the event starts at 5:30 p.m. with a reception, followed by a dinner and the award presentations. Tickets are $95, available until sold out and can be obtained on the web at http://business.oregonstate.edu/programs/aep or by contacting Mary McKillop, 541-713-8044, e-mail mary.mckillop@bus.oregonstate.edu.

The Weatherford Awards recognize pioneering and lifelong entrepreneurs and innovators. This year, three of the honorees are native Oregonians and two are OSU alums.

The awards are named for OSU's Weatherford Hall where entrepreneurship and business students can explore their innovations and new venture ideas in a unique, living learning residence hall.

The recipients of the 2012 Weatherford Awards are:

  • Jim Bernau, a native Oregonian and founder of Willamette Valley Vineyards, purchased the Estate site in 1983 and cleared away the old pioneer plum orchard hidden in scotch broom and blackberry vines. He planted pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris. Willamette Valley Vineyards has become one of the region's leading wineries, earning the title “One of America's Great Pinot Noir Producers” from Wine Enthusiast magazine.
  • Carolyn Chambers, founder of Chamber Communications Corp. and a pioneer in the cable television industry, died in August at the age of 79. Her family will accept the award in her honor. A native Oregonian, Chambers earned a degree in business in 1953 at the University of Oregon, where she was the sole woman in her class. At 25, just four years out of college, she borrowed $100,000 from her father and pooled that with funds from other investors to launch Liberty Communications. In 1983 she founded Chambers Communications Corp., which today operates ABC affiliates KEZI in Eugene-Springfield, KOHD in Bend and KDRV in Medford and Klamath Falls. The company also includes a production arm, Chambers Productions, and Chambers Cable.
  • Stanley Cheng, chairman and CEO of Meyer Corporation and founder/owner of Hestan Vineyards. One of seven children, Cheng was born in 1947 in Hong Kong. He attended OSU where he received his degree in mechanical engineering. In 1981, Cheng founded California-based Meyer Corporation, America’s largest cookware company and the second largest in the world. In the midst of building his cookware enterprise, Cheng, who also received the 2002 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Housewares Charity Foundation, cultivated his growing passion for wine. In 1996, Cheng and his wife Helen purchased a 127-acre property that they named Hestan Vineyards in Napa Valley.
  • Mike Rich, a Portland screenwriter whose breakthrough came in 1998 when his script, “Finding Forrester,” was awarded a prestigious Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Within weeks, it was picked up by Columbia Pictures and was a holiday season release in 2000, starring Sean Connery and directed by Gus Van Sant. His second screenplay, “The Rookie,” starred Dennis Quaid and Rachel Griffiths and was both a commercial and critical success for Disney in 2002. He also wrote the screenplays for “Radio” (2003), “The Nativity Story” (2006) and the 2010 film, “Secretariat.”