News

Christine and David Vernier Pledge $4.5 million to PSU
Author: Cate Soulages
Posted: January 29, 2020

The gift will help transform a key science building to be named Vernier Science Center acknowledging a lifetime commitment to Portland State University

David and Christine Vernier Long-time Portland State University advocates Christine and David Vernier — founders of Vernier Software & Technology, a landmark Oregon company providing scientific hardware and software for education — have made a $4.5 million pledge to PSU. It will help renovate a key campus facility for undergraduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

 

“The Verniers’ exciting gift is the latest expression of an extraordinary partnership,” said Interim PSU President Stephen Percy. “As donors, board leaders and community advocates, Christine and Dave have long demonstrated a profound commitment to PSU students, to science education, and to a thriving and equitable Oregon. We cannot thank them enough for their friendship.”

“Every great city needs a great university, and that’s PSU,” said Christine Vernier. “We believe that Portland State’s mission to serve diverse students and its many important connections to our city will shape Oregon’s future.”

Pending public investment by the Oregon Legislature, the university’s planned renovation of its undergraduate science building will provide flexible classrooms, state-of-the-art laboratories and collaborative research and teaching spaces that are critical to multidisciplinary, interactive learning. It will also co-locate PSU’s numerous programs supporting first-generation and historically underrepresented minority students in STEM and health-related fields. More than 80 percent of Portland State’s STEM students remain in Oregon after they graduate.

“We are committed to building campus spaces that contribute positively to students’ experience and success,” said PSU Provost Susan Jeffords, leader of a university-wide effort to improve outcomes for every PSU student. “Exceptional facilities make an enormous difference to learning and belonging. We are so thankful to the Verniers for helping to make possible such important work.”    

Vernier Science Center “We know a culturally competent state-of-the-art science center will help students nurture their curiosity and develop the skills and confidence to empower discovery,” said Todd Rosenstiel, associate dean for research and graduate programs in PSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Diversity of thought and experience is the foundation of real innovation and discovery.”
 

“We are thrilled that our contribution to new PSU classrooms and research spaces will improve the teaching and learning experience for instructors and students alike, and help give students from every background a great opportunity to learn science,” said David Vernier.

The Verniers’ relationship with PSU spans more than two decades. They have made a lifetime philanthropic contribution of more than $10 million, established the university’s largest outright endowed scholarship (for first-generation STEM and social work students), and provided capital support for the College of Education’s STEM classroom — and now for the university’s undergraduate science building. Christine Vernier has been a member of Portland State’s appointed Board of Trustees since its inception in 2014. David Vernier has strongly advocated for PSU in the business and educational communities.

To acknowledge these longtime partners and friends, PSU plans to name the renovated Science Building One in their honor: the Vernier Science Center.

“The new name is an apt expression of the Verniers’ interests and philanthropic impact,” said Sarah Schwarz, executive vice president of the PSU Foundation. “Because of them, doors of opportunity have been thrown open for talented students and faculty, and for all of Oregon.”

The Verniers’ gift will be counted in Portland State’s comprehensive campaign Let Knowledge Serve (www.letknowledgeserve.org), which launched publicly in 2018. The $300 million fund-raising effort supports PSU students, faculty, programs and facilities.

This private capital commitment highlights the power of public-private partnerships to serve Oregon and Oregonians. The Oregon Legislature will consider investing public funds in the science center renovation during its upcoming session beginning February 3, 2020.