The political action committee Oregonians for Higher Education Excellence has now raised $414,000, although the group is not currently pursuing a ballot measure or intending to support candidates.
The latest large checks—$65,000 from California real estate developer Andrew Berwick on June 12 and $25,000 from Portland private equity investor John Von Schlegell of Endeavour Capital on June 27—are the latest installments in what is shaping up as a major power play. Von Schlegell resigned from the Oregon University System Board in 2009 partly in frustration with the slow pace of change.
The PAC he's now supporting, which previously got checks from Nike Chairman Phil Knight and Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, wants to speed the pace of the Legislature and Oregon University System giving greater independence to each of the state's seven college campuses.
Boyle earlier told WW that the group does not have specific plans to go to the ballot with its own plan for autonomy—but as the cash piles up, that possibility grows more real.