Seizing the Moment
OHSU Extra, Fall 2011
Eugene and Bonnie Skourtes
A proud graduate of the class of ’68, OHSU School of Dentistry alumnus Eugene Skourtes, D.M.D., has loyally supported his alma mater over the decades as his own business, Willamette Dental Group, has thrived. Always a firm believer in the importance of preventive dentistry and the power of education, Skourtes has long made important philanthropic investments in the school – establishing the Willamette Dental Foundation Student Scholarships in 2010, for example. But when Skourtes saw OHSU’s strategic plan charting a new course for dental education in Oregon, he was inspired to take his commitment to the next level.
OHSU’s new vision for the school included building a new clinic designed to serve more patients with broader services, and a new interdisciplinary educational experience for dental students. Believing now was the perfect opportunity to support his ideals and leave a lasting legacy for his profession, Skourtes and his wife, Bonnie, stepped in with a game-changing philanthropic investment of $10 million – the largest gift in the dental school’s 112-year history.
“My philosophy is that when there’s an opportunity, you have to take it,” said Skourtes. “I was planning to give $1 million, but knowing how much OHSU needed to come up with for a new building in a short time, I decided to seize the moment in order to share my success with others and make a difference.”
The Skourtes’ gift provided crucial momentum at precisely the right time, allowing the School of Dentistry to meet its preliminary fundraising goal, which in turn prompted the OHSU Board of Directors to greenlight the project in time to include the dental school facility in the OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building planned for the Schnitzer Campus at South Waterfront. In recognition of the Skourtes family commitment, the new dental facility at South Waterfront will be named the Skourtes Tower.
“Gene and Bonnie’s generous gift turned the tide. Once they made their decision, we knew the rest of the pieces would fall into place,” said School of Dentistry Dean Jack W. Clinton, D.M.D., ’64.
Newberg-based dental manufacturer A-dec was established in 1964, just a few years after the OHSU School of Dentistry moved to its then-new building on Marquam Hill. Over the years, A-dec’s founders Ken and Joan Austin have forged a close and productive relationship with the school as A-dec has grown into a top global supplier of dental equipment. Joan served as an OHSU Foundation board member, for example, and Ken was a member of the team that created the plan that launched the school’s new era at South Waterfront.
Generations of the school’s graduates have honed their skills on A-dec equipment, and now A-dec has pledged to help outfit the new dental school clinic with state-ofthe- art equipment valued at $4.35 million.
“The OHSU School of Dentistry has been a valued partner to A-dec for nearly half a century, so of course we were excited to be a part of the next major advancement. In contributing equipment to furnish the school’s clinic, we are doing our part to give Oregon dental students the best training available – and provide Oregonians with the best dental care possible,” said Scott Parrish, president of A-dec and son-in-law to Ken and Joan Austin.
“The Austins’ unwavering loyalty to the school has been instrumental in shaping its people and progress, and I consider them key partners in preparing the next generation of practitioners for the challenges ahead,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson, Jr., M.D., M.B.A.
Founded in 1955 to provide affordable dental coverage for longshoremen and warehousemen, ODS Health today provides a range of health care products to customers throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Based in Portland, ODS is a natural ally to the OHSU School of Dentistry. Through a longstanding partnership, ODS has strongly supported the school’s key projects and programs, most recently establishing the prestigious Robert G. Gootee/ODS Companies Endowed Lectureship in Leadership and Professionalism and the ODS Scholars Program.
Several members of ODS’s leadership team are School of Dentistry alumni. Chair of the ODS Board of Directors Jay Lamb, D.M.D., graduated from the school in 1980. Senior Vice President Bill Ten Pas, D.M.D., graduated in 1973 and new Vice President Teri Barichello, D.M.D., graduated in 1998.
Like A-dec’s Ken Austin, ODS was part of the planning process that resulted in the decision to move to South Waterfront – ODS President and CEO Robert G. Gootee served as co-chair of the planning committee. Gootee’s business expertise and pragmatic leadership proved invaluable to the plan’s eventual acceptance and success; it was only natural that ODS would whole-heartedly invest in the new vision for the School of Dentistry once the plan was approved.
ODS’s total investment of $5 million to the school is the largest corporate philanthropic contribution in the company’s history.
“The OHSU School of Dentistry has graduated generations of our region’s best dentists. We are proud to play a role in helping the school carry out its ambitious plans and consider our gift a prudent investment in the health of all Oregonians,” said Gootee.
“This is truly a measure of the strength and loyalty of Oregon’s dental community,” said OHSU Foundation President Allan Price. “ODS recognized the historic opportunity before us and invested at the ideal time. They are helping to transform dental education and the practice of dentistry.”
Thanks to these early major investments – along with the contributions of many others – OHSU can initiate an exciting new era for dentistry in Oregon, enabling the school to train more dentists, serve more patients with expanded services, stimulate research and clinical innovation, and create a sustainable funding base. OHSU is now more than halfway to meeting its long-term fundraising goal of $43 million.
For information on giving opportunities, visit www.ourmomentishere.org.