Andrew Carnegie has a 2,800-library legacy. Other top philanthropists like J. Paul Getty, Eli Lilly, Andrew W. Mellon and John D. Rockefeller also established legacies through liberal acts of charity.
Even though Bob Davies did not strike oil, at least not to our knowledge, he is already forming a legacy of his own. The new Eastern Oregon University president, his wife Cindy and their daughter Katie recently announced a $120,000 gift to the EOU Foundation. Part of the money is earmarked for character scholarships for students and for faculty development. Some of the gift is destined for the alumni association and some to help successful students achieve dreams of, for example, a trip to a national competition.
The public, non-profit foundation was established 45 years ago. Its aim was to raise funds to support the EOU mission. Many dedicated individuals have helped EOU launch students toward successful careers and important contributions to their communities.
The Davies’ gift is helping to make our part of the world just a little better place. The president knows that a few people can make a big difference in a community and that it is important to be a giver and not a taker. The Davies are challenging others to follow suit and help Eastern come out of the current recession stronger than ever.
Sure, the recession has been a challenge for many of us. Economic realities have put some families between a rock and a hard place.
But surveys have shown that Oregonians with less than $30,000 annual income have often been most generous in giving the biggest portion of their income to charity. This is a challenge for those with more to give generously.
Those of us who can’t contribute resources during the recession may be able to contribute time to helping make our communities better places to live. Others of us can show gratefulness for our blessings by writing checks to charities, whether that is Eastern or any of the number of other worthy causes in the community.
Davies is asking people to give a little extra to help Eastern come out of hard times stronger and more vital than ever before. He is leading by example. He has a tough challenge ahead. But he is off to a good start emphasizing expectations of success, not failure, and high achievement. He is a leader who believes in being a role model for the community and of the power of can-do optimism. He encourages philanthropy, oil or no oil, and leads by example.