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SOU announces largest ever gift to university valued at $12 million from Lithia Motors


The ten-year donation has two priorities, according to administrators: sustainability and diversity. $4 million will fund a new Institute for Applied Sustainability, $5 million will go to scholarships for students and a leadership development program, and additional funding will help efforts to electrify the SOU campus and help install electric vehicle charging stations.

SOU President Rick Bailey said he was excited about the new public-private partnership between the campus and Lithia Motors, and their online electric vehicle resource GreenCars.

“Institute members will work collaboratively with our partners at Lithia and GreenCars to develop innovative projects that move the needle on applied sustainability and not just regionally, but nationally,” Bailey said.

Lithia Motors CEO Bryan DeBoer echoed the potential to increase collaborations between SOU and the auto company.

“It’s the least that we can do. We hope that our people can get involved as well. Anything you need in curriculum or research or research projects or to get connected to new biofuels or those type of things, we’re there for you and our people are there for you,” DeBoer said.

According to Vince Smith, the new director of the Institute for Applied Sustainability, the donation will add to the variety of sustainability-oriented programs featured at SOU. The university is proposing new programs in corporate sustainability and a new MBA in sustainable business, as well as plans to host a conference in corporate sustainability.

Copyright 2022 Jefferson Public Radio. To see more, visit Jefferson Public Radio.

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.