How This School Landed a Big Life Sciences Gift

In 2014, billionaire Tim Boyle and his wife Mary gave $10 million to the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University creating a mentorship fund to honor the late Hildegard Lamfrom, Boyle's aunt, who passed away from cancer. The Boyle family also lost patriarch Neal Boyle to a heart attack decades ago, leaving Boyle and his mother Gert to rescue their then fledgling family company, Columbia Sportswear. Today, Columbia is a $2.1 billion retailer and Gert serves as chair, while Boyle is CEO. 

The University of Oregon recently received another $10 million gift from the Boyles, this time in support of life sciences research. The funds will support UO's aquatic animal care facility, an important part of life sciences research at the university, as well as fund the acquisition of state-of-the art technology and expand facilities dedicated to genomics research. 

Interestingly enough, Boyle studied business and earned a degree in journalism while at UO, and Mary Boyle majored in fine and applied arts. The couple has supported these interest areas in the past. The couple has given to the School of Journalism and Communication and the Lundquist College of Business’ New Venture Championship program. They also established the Tim and Mary Boyle Chair in Materials Studies and Product Design in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. As well, Boyle has served as a trustee for the UO Foundation and co-chaired the university’s last major fundraising campaign.

What's behind the couple's interest in life sciences, though?

Well, once again, Boyle's aunt and Gert's sister, Hildegard, plays a role. Hildegard fostered a four-decade career in the nascent field of molecular biology, and is considered one of the 20th century's most influential and accomplished women in the field. She worked with the likes of Francis Crick in Cambridge, and Linus Pauling at CalTech. Hildegard was also a member of UO research teams making pioneering strides in the life sciences. 

Given these personal motivations, it makes sense that the Boyle family would be aware of the kind of life sciences work going on at the University of Oregon, and feel compelled to continue supporting Hildegard's work. As Boyle puts it, "I’ve been around the university’s scientists, and I’ve always been impressed by the investments the university has made there... the results have been outstanding. I wanted to make sure that continued."