Ashland Oregon’s DeBoer family and their signature company, Lithia Motors, have been recognized for their generosity, which has made possible the completion of a new athletic pavilion at Southern Oregon University.
Lithia and the DeBoers pledged $1 million to the project – named Lithia Motors Pavilion – and another $1 million to fund scholarships for many of the student-athletes who will compete in the facility that is scheduled to open by the end of February. Several other donors are expected to give a total of $1 million in gifts for the construction project.
“The willing support of all these donors has transformed this project, and will have a lasting effect on our university,” SOU President Linda Schott said when the pavilion naming was announced last year. “The fund-raising did more than allow us to make ends meet; it enabled us to add dimension and texture to the project.”
Three generations of the DeBoer family have been among the most generous supporters of SOU. Lithia Motors – which was founded in 1946 by Walt DeBoer and incorporated in 1968 by his son, Sid – is one of Oregon’s two current Fortune 500 companies.
“We enthusiastically support the students, academic programs and athletics of Southern Oregon University,” Bryan DeBoer – Lithia’s president and CEO, and Sid’s son – said last year.
The new athletic pavilion received $22 million in bond funding from the state, but the need to demolish rather than salvage some portions of the previous athletic facility added $2 million to the project cost. The adjacent Student Recreation Center is separately funded by $17.7 million in fees that SOU students levied upon themselves.
The new pavilion’s competition gym will seat more than 1,400 fans for men’s and women’s basketball games and wrestling matches, and women’s volleyball games, along with various other athletic facilities. The Student Recreation Center will include a recreational gym, indoor running track, fitness center and climbing wall.
The combined 100,000-square-foot project is expected to receive a LEED Gold rating for sustainability.