The generous gifts of East Central University alumnae and the late Hallie Brown Ford have impacted several institutions of higher learning.
ECU and the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon, are two of those, which are halfway across the country from each other.
Current ECU instructors – Annie Oldenburg and John Dougherty – are well aware of how Ford influenced the success of both institutions. Oldenburg and Dougherty are both graduates of the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies at Pacific Northwest College of Art and now have come full circle by working in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center on the ECU campus.
“It’s a small world. I would have never imagined that I would find two of them,” said Oldenburg, who teaches photography and various other classes in ECU’s Mass Communication Department.
Her arrival at ECU was 100 percent coincidental, she said.
“I applied for the position because they needed someone with knowledge of photography and it was right up my alley,” Oldenburg said. “I didn’t know I would be working in the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center. I thought this can’t be the same person. It says a lot about her spreading art in multiple communities.”
Brown’s $15 million gift to PCNA in 2007 was the largest single donation to that institution up to that point, Oldenburg believes.
“In Oregon, her organization and donation helped sculpt the arts community,” said Oldenburg. “I have felt her influence within both the art and education communities.”
Dougherty, an assistant professor of art who teaches several graphic design classes at ECU, went through the Hallie Ford Graduate School at PCNA and graduated in 2014.
“I was sort of surprised,” said Dougherty after discovering the fine arts center at ECU was named after Ford. “I knew she had a big presence in Oregon. Her name is really big up there. She has donated a lot to the arts. There’s Oregon State, PCNA and Willamette University.”
Willamette houses the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, a six-gallery, 27,000-foot facility which opened in 1998. In 1995, she started the Ford Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides financial aid for single-parent college students in Oregon.
Shortly after Ford’s death in 2007, an $8 million donation was made in her name in support of the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families at Oregon State University.
Ford’s graduate program at PCNA was a blessing to Dougherty.
“Most students, including me, received some stipend or funding in going through the program,” Dougherty said. “That was a big part in me going through it.”
ECU’s Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center, an 85,000 square-foot facility, features three multi-purposes classrooms, three computer labs, six art studios, vocal and instrumental rehearsal halls, multimedia studios for photography and TV/audio production and full theatre support facilities.