On Fridays, families arrive one by one at the Brim Family Outdoor Learning Center at Pacific University.
Completed just last year, the outdoor learning space and gazebo classroom were meant to augment hands-on discovery and nature opportunities for students in the university’s Early Learning Community — a preschool through second-grade demonstration school operated by Pacific’s College of Education.
With the ELC operating remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic this fall, the space has instead temporarily become an unexpected checkpoint for continuing students’ connections with school.
In brief 15-minute windows, students and families meet up with teachers — outdoors and masked — to say hello, touch base on students’ wellbeing, exchange supplies for the week ahead, and even check out books in the gazebo-turned-popup-library.
The Brim Family Outdoor Learning Center is just one of many endeavors at Pacific University supported by Evona Brim, who is being inducted this year into the Platinum Level of the university’s 1849 Society — recognizing the tremendous generosity of donors who have given $5 million or more in their lifetimes.
Brim currently serves on the Pacific University Board of Trustees, as her late husband, A.E. “Gene” Brim, did from 1984 until his death in 2002. Their daughter, Julia Brim-Edwards, also serves on the board.
Together, the family has supported Pacific for more than 35 years, with gifts to the Pacific Excellence Fund, the Tom McCall Forum, and the construction of Berglund Hall (home to the ELC, College of Education and College of Business). They have backed initiatives in the Tran Library, College of Health Professions, College of Business, and College of Education.
And, they have supported students directly through a scholarship for students in the College of Optometry and College of Health Professions, a fund supporting health professions student participation in workshops and conferences, and a fund supporting professional development and research in healthcare. ■