Brutons’ gift to help retain AAA faculty

A new gift to the UO by Larry and Janice Bruton will make a difference for the School of Architecture and Allied Arts for years to come.

The Brutons recently made a $5 million deferred gift commitment to aid faculty recruitment and retention, keeping leading faculty of architecture, design, planning, policy, art and architectural history and the arts at the UO.

“I want to support excellence, and faculty are the foundation of a great program,” Larry Bruton, former school Board of Visitors member, said in an interview. “I know there are real challenges for the university. Retention will be the battle for Oregon in the future.”

The Brutons’ estate gift “will provide flexible and responsive funding that meets critical needs for our school,” said Frances Bronet, dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. “Each year, our top faculty members are aggressively sought by other leading programs that wish to hire them away. By identifying a range of opportunities for funding professorships, chairs, or deanships, we can use the funds where the impact on the faculty is greatest.”

As principal and partner of the firm ZGF Architects, Bruton built a successful company. He joined the firm in 1971 and was made partner in 1987 as ZGF Architects grew to one of the largest firms in the nation. As the firm expanded from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, then to Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York, Bruton was involved in major projects at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the Engineering Unit 2 research building at the University of California, Irvine.

Portland International Airport (credit: ZGF Architects LLP © Eckert & Eckert)Bruton was often a lead architect on airport expansion projects, a specialization that helped him early in his career. It was the Portland airport expansion and the new position at ZGF Architects that convinced the Brutons to make Portland their home in 1971.

Janice Bruton’s father was a math professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where she grew up. She studied dance at the University of Utah before doing graduate work at the University of British Columbia, where she received her degree in library science. She and Larry met at the University of Oregon, where she was working as a reference librarian.

After moving to Portland when Larry joined ZGF, Jan became the co-owner of A Children’s Place Bookstore. She and her business partner sold books and music to a generation of new parents and grandparents and promoted concerts for children’s music performers. They were the first to bring Raffi to the United States; Raffi later became a children’s music superstar.

In retirement, Jan has become a licensed American Kennel Club dog judge. The Brutons have bred and shown Lhasa Apso dogs since 1976. Jan is also a current board member at American Lhasa Apso Club.

During his UO education, Bruton said the transformation of new faculty members and ideas fueled his passion to study architecture.

“Midway through my professional education at UO, there was a significant change in the faculty that involved an infusion of several new, dynamic, bright and challenging people into the longstanding tradition of the program,” he said. “I cannot help but believe that the contributions of these people greatly enriched my education, broadened my horizon and ultimately helped me find much greater professional success and personal satisfaction with my career in architecture. It was like the barn doors opened up and I wanted to see the world.”

- by Karen Johnson, for UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts