OSU arts center to be named after alumnus and donor

Oregon State University on Friday night celebrated Patricia Valian Reser, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and OSU alumnus, for a decade of transformative giving totaling more than $36 million to university programs in arts, faculty, students and facilities.

OSU has announced that a new $75 million arts center under construction at its Corvallis campus will be named the Patricia Valian Reser Center for the Creative Arts. The announcement came as the university and the OSU Foundation publicly launched Oregon State’s second university-wide fundraising and engagement campaign.

Prior to Friday night’s announcement, a $25 million contribution from Reser to the 49,000 square foot arts center had been identified as an anonymous donation.

The arts center is under construction at the corner of Southwest 15th Street and Washington Way and is expected to open in the spring of 2024. It will include a 500-seat recital hall, a black box theater and a flexible art gallery designed for intertwine learning and performance. . The complex also includes the renovation of an adjacent historic structure for rehearsal areas and classrooms, outdoor sets for performances and public gatherings.

Reser has been a driving force behind the advancement of the university’s arts programs since early 2013, when the OSU Foundation announced it. $5 Million Challenge Gift, then anonymous, who launched a major fundraising effort dubbed the Cornerstone Arts Challenge to increase support for the School of Arts and Communication at OSU’s College of Liberal Arts. The programs are now called the School of Communication and the School of Visual, Performing and Design Arts. At the time, Reser’s $5 million gift was the largest donation ever made for the arts at the university.

In 2017, Reser made another anonymous donation of $25 million for a new arts and education complex. The donation inspired support for the project, leveraging more than $5 million from other donors and helping OSU receive legislative approval for $38 million in government bonds for the facility.

In 2021 and 2022, Reser created a program endowment of $6 million to ensure continued funding for arts center programs.

“I believe that for OSU to reach its full potential as a global university for problem solving, direction and change – the university of the future – we must have a thriving Liberal Arts College,” said Reser. “We need to have arts that flourish and engage with academics and research. When teachers and students engage in the arts, they increase their ability to find new solutions to problems of all kinds. We must cultivate our greatest natural resource: human creativity.

“Pat is an experienced and sophisticated philanthropist,” said Shawn L. Scoville, President and CEO of the OSU Foundation. “She understands the importance of making gifts out of lead; that someone has to ‘begin’, which then inspires other donors to step forward with their own generous donations.

“Pat also understands that different types of investments are needed to chart a course for success,” Scoville said. “Beyond creating a world-class institution, his donations to student, faculty, and program endowment funds ensure that OSU’s arts programs will be sustained over the long term. Our community will benefit from her philanthropic support and the generosity she will inspire for decades to come. Her impact on the arts in Oregon State and on Oregon State University is extraordinary. We are eternally grateful.”

OSU President Jayathi Murthy praised Reser’s contributions to the arts at OSU.

“The arts are an essential part of a globally recognized research university like Oregon State,” Murthy said. “OSU’s deep strength in science and engineering is enhanced by powerful arts education and programs. The challenges of our time demand creativity and our Visual and Performing Arts classes are filled with students from all academic areas of the university.

In addition to Reser’s donations for the arts to OSU, she made a leadership gift for the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in her community of Beaverton. The center known as The Reser opened in March.

Plans are underway for collaborative opportunities involving OSU’s new creative arts center and The Reser, as well as the arts organizations of Portland Opera and Corvallis, said Peter Betjemann, inaugural director of arts and of Education Patricia Valian Reser.

“This new center will make OSU an artistic destination,” he said. “As a public research university, our goal is even bolder. With the arts center, we are building not just a physical space, but a center for cross-disciplinary collaboration between the arts, all of the sciences taught in Oregon State, and engineering.

Reser graduated from the Oregon State College of Education in 1960 and taught in the Beaverton School District. She and her late husband, Al, have grown Reser’s Fine Foods into an international company, of which she serves as Chairman of the Board.

Reser served as a trustee of the OSU Foundation, including 10 years on its executive committee; co-chaired the university’s first capital campaign; served as the first chairman of the board of trustees of Oregon State University; and remains a member of the foundation’s campaign steering committee. She received an honorary doctorate from the university in 2019 and received the Lifetime Trustee Award of the OSU Foundation in 2022.

Along with her late husband Al and his family, Reser gave leadership gifts to many OSU college and athletic facilities, including Reser Stadium, which was named in 1999 in honor of his family. They also helped build the Linus Pauling Science Center and Austin Hall, home of the College of Business. In addition to Reser’s gifts to the arts, which created five endowment funds for faculty positions, it created endowment funds for faculty in the colleges of science, business, and education.

William E. Bennett