A special gift for OSU-Cascades

Published Dec 20, 2012 at 04:00AM

In the life of a very young, very small institution, as OSU-Cascades is, $2 million can make one heck of a difference. Thus the gift by Carmen and Mike Cutting, bequeathed to the school as part of the couple’s estate planning, is likely to have far more impact than a similar gift to, say, an established institution.

The $2 million is, in fact, the largest gift in the 11-year history of the branch campus.

The Cuttings, both of whom are native Oregonians, have long known they would leave money to Oregon State University, their alma mater. Mike Cutting says they also knew they would split their gift between academics and athletics.

It wasn’t until the last year or year and a half, however, that they began to focus on OSU-Cascades for the academic piece of their plan. Watching the branch campus develop and getting to know Becky Johnson, the university’s vice president who oversees the branch, the couple decided to put their money here rather than at the larger university. It was a chance, Mike Cutting says, to have a real impact both on the school and on the community it serves.

That it will.

Moreover, because the Cuttings left decision-making about how the endowment will be spent to the campus vice president, the money will go where those who know the branch best think it will do the most good.

That kind of freedom isn’t unheard of in the world of charitable giving, of course, but neither is it the norm. Often gifts come with strings that direct spending to a pet program or some other element that has caught the donor’s attention. The Cuttings’ decision says plenty about their trust in the ability of those who run the campus to decide what is best for it.

OSU-Cascades has had its share of good fortune in recent months. Its campaign to raise an initial $4 million to help expand the 2-year branch into a full-fledged 4-year school is going well and is about 3⁄4 of the way to its goal. State support for the expansion was included in the governor’s budget for the coming biennium.

And now a very generous couple has promised the school money to spend on its core mission, educating the men and women of Central Oregon. Good fortune continues.