University of Portland receives $500,000 pledge to create Dundon Berchtold Fund for Moral Formation and Applied Ethics
The University of Portland has announced a RISE campaign pledge of $500,000 from Amy Dundon Berchtold and Jim Berchtold to create the Dundon Berchtold Fund for Moral Formation and Applied Ethics.
The gift will establish the Dundon Berchtold Initiative in Ethics. The initiative is designed to ensure that the University meets its “aspirations both to form the moral character of its students and to conduct sustained ethical reflection in applied aspects of business, science, engineering, education, health care, and the arts.”
The initiative will allow the University to host seminars and retreats called “The Character Project,” where students will have opportunities to engage in semester-long guided discussions of personal values, decisions, habits, virtues, vices, and the Christian narrative that transforms the moral life of the believer.
“Dundon Berchtold Fellowships” will be awarded to both students and faculty mentors to study contemporary ethical issues related to their own academic disciplines as well as the many vocations and professions supported by the University’s educational mission.
“As a result of this generous gift, it is the University’s strong hope that our graduates will continue to be distinguished not only by their competence but also their moral leadership’” says Executive Vice President Rev. Mark Poorman, C.S.C., who teaches Catholic ethics and character formation and development.
Amy Dundon says she only recently has become familiar with the Portland community and the University of Portland, largely through her husband Jim Berchtold, who is a 1963 graduate of the University. She says the couple began discussing the idea of moral formation and applied ethics during the alumni Fall Aegean Cruise that included several Holy Cross priests.
During discussions on that trip with Poorman and the other priests, whom she affectionately referred to as “the four Padres,” the couple made an on-the-spot initial exploratory gift of $25,000.
“We wanted to do an exploratory gift,” Dundon said, “because we thought the project had excellent potential and could establish footing for expanded discussions with Father Mark and Bryce Strang as they had time to further fine tune the timeline and program deliverables.” Further meetings and discussions in January resulted in the couple pledging the $500,000 to bring Father Mark’s vision to reality.
Dundon grew up in southern California and earned her bachelor’s degree at University of Southern California prior to earning her MBA, while Berchtold was raised in the rural Oregon community of Mount Angel. She says she was inspired by the friendly atmosphere of places like Mount Angel and Portland and by the quality of students graduating from the University of Portland.
“It’s just a wonderful thing to help out,” she says of the pledge. “I am grateful to be able to make a difference across the board, to help students of all academic fields.”
The gift is part of the RISE campaign, which was announced in December 2010 and seeks to raise $175 million over the next several years, which would result in one of the largest development campaigns ever for a Pacific Northwest private college or university.
The campaign’s goals are divided into four major themes, each with funding targets: (1) Pursuing academic excellence and faculty funding – $70 million; (2) Providing access for all students and direct assistance – $45 million; (3) Developing faith and leadership – $10 million; and (4) Enriching the campus community and physical resources – $50 million.