PORTLAND The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation in September awarded a $25 million challenge grant to Portland State University, the largest in the university’s history, and the largest ever awarded by the foundation.
But that wasn’t the only milestone for the foundation. The grant is meant to boost economic development for the greater Portland area as much as it will boost education at PSU.
“We are certainly interested in PSU and education as such,” says Charles Rooks, the foundation’s interim executive director. “But the overarching purpose of the grant was to benefit the development of a higher quality of living and a higher economic standard [for Portland.]”
Rooks says the grant came from the evolution of the foundation, whose core mission is to support the arts and education, to be more proactive. “This grant was an opportunity to make an education grant with a larger impact,” he says.
The grant requires that PSU raise at least an additional $25 million over the next 10 years, and the money must be used exclusively for sustainability research and education. PSU President Wim Wiewell believes this is the largest grant to support sustainability in higher education.
“The more PSU develops expertise and a reputation nationally and internationally, we think that will help attract more businesses to cluster close to the university,” Rooks says. “This grant is not trying to create some newfangled idea. It is trying to help strengthen and expand some already excellent activities.”
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