Lithia Motors donating $10 million to SOU

ASHLAND, Ore.– Southern Oregon University announced its biggest donation in school history Wednesday.

The multi-million dollar donation is in the form of a philanthropic partnership.

SOU’s President, Dr. Rick Bailey said, “this beautiful partnership with Lithia and GreenCars will be valued at over $12 million over the next 10 years.”

Lithia Motors is donating $10 million to Southern Oregon University to fund the Lithia and GreenCars Momentum Fund.

For Lithia CEO and SOU alum Bryan DeBoer, this is all about promoting sustainability and diversity.

“We’re not looking for anything back other than to make our world a better place to live and to have our grandchildren and our children have a better place to live in,” DeBoer said.

The Momentum Fund includes $5 million that will go towards a scholarship and leadership development program.

The program will focus on recruiting first-generation and minority students.

SOU’s Toya Cooper said the program will also offer career coaching and internship opportunities.

“It is nothing short of a miracle to have this resounding affirmation from the Lithia and GreenCars scholarship say, ‘yes, there is value in this,'” Cooper said.

The donation also includes $4 million to fund the institute of applied sustainability at the university.

Dr. Rick Bailey said the university wants the program to help SOU become the first public university that generates 100% of its own electricity on its campus.

“I think ultimately what we’re doing is building a movement together that I know will put SOU, similar to what Lithia has done over the years, to put us on a national stage,” Bailey said.

Dr. Vince Smith will be the director of the institute of applied sustainability.

He said he wants SOU to be the leader in sustainability nationally.

“SOU is pleased to announce the launch of a national conference on corporate sustainability. In partnership with Lithia and GreenCars, we will together lead corporate efforts to institutionalize and operationalize sustainability as a guiding principle in business and enterprise,” Smith said.

$1 million will go to the Lithia and GreenCars President’s Fund for entrepreneurship.

DeBoer and Lithia Motors is excited for what the future of this partnership will bring.

“It’s been a year or two in the making to be able to build the momentum fund for SOU and help stand beside them as they change our campus and hopefully our broader world into a more sustainable and diversified environment,” DeBoer said.

Lithia Motors is also donating electric cars to SOU and they plan to install charging station across campus.

NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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