Willamette University

Presidential Notes

A Parent’s Thanks

"I had already left my son at Willamette two weeks previously, for football camp — one of the hardest things I have ever done. I flew back to Oregon from Arizona to attend Opening Days and sat in the auditorium with 400-plus freshman students and their families. President Pelton started to speak about this journey we were all on, our students’ limitless possibilities and the changes coming for families. I felt that Lee was speaking directly to me, yet I know every crying parent there felt the same. When he thanked us for trusting the university with our most precious gift, he also said that he does not take that trust lightly, and neither does the university. I cried leaving my son that afternoon, but I knew he was in the right place.

— Veva Eickelberg P’10, ’12


Thoughts from the Board Chair

Lee’s presidency was marked by a long list of achievements, including a significant increase in Willamette’s academic profile, a new commitment to faculty and collaborative student-faculty research, the strengthening of our graduate schools, building the university’s national reputation, completion of the largest fundraising campaign in Willamette’s history, increased access for students of color and first-generation college students, and closer ties between the university and the world around it. But perhaps his most significant legacy will be his leadership in extending Willamette’s longheld motto — “Not unto ourselves alone are we born” — to every part of Willamette’s community.

— Steve Wynne ’74, JD’77


Willamette Academy Support

If it weren’t for President Pelton and his strong advocacy and support of Willamette Academy, I would not be attending Willamette University right now. He had a huge impact on this university, especially around issues of social justice.

— Irving Corzo ’13


Remembering Matriculation

I was walking to the flag-raising ceremony, marking the symbolic beginning of my college career. As we walked from the matriculation at the Mill Stream, past the quad, I saw President Pelton on his bicycle. He was standing there, calmly watching the incoming class walk by. I stepped out of the procession to shake his hand. Thank you, President Pelton, for your leadership and for your lasting legacy on this great campus.

— Eli Utne ’14


Ninja Run

A friend and I were on a midnight ninja run (meaning we were in all-black spandex) and we decided to run up the Mill Stream. President Pelton came out of the UC and yelled out to us, “Have a lovely night, ladies!” It was hilarious. It was also pouring rain while we were doing this.

— Emily Burke ’13


Nice Shoes

My friend and I went to President Pelton’s open office hours once. It was the first time I had been up to his office, and I was surprised how beautiful everything is up in Waller. We talked to him about our classes for most of the time because he kept asking us about them. Then he turned to me and said, “Nice shoes,” referring to my pink Chucks, like it was the most natural thing to do. I thought it was funny in the setting of his fancy office, with him dressed in a fancy suit. My shoes were very un-fancy, but all I could do was laugh and say “thank you.”

— Jillian Toda ’12


Reflections of a Former Board Chair

Lee’s vision to improve the university and elevate it to the next level was central to all that he did. He always pushed for excellence from the faculty and students and he took on timely issues. He added faculty, expanded programs, and increased the quality of the student body.

He also had the courage and stamina to launch a massive $125 million fundraising effort in tough economic times, and then managed to surpass the campaign goal.

I was always impressed with how many activities he championed at one time; working with him gave me an up-close view of how challenging the role of being president of a small liberal arts college can be.

— Bob Packard ’73
former chair of the Board of Trustees