Feathering the Nest

A four-generation Duck family helps make college dreams a reality

February 9, 2015—Mary Glass O’Leary (Speech ’55) and her husband Jay are lead donors in the creation of a new $100,000 School of Music and Dance fund, the Advancement Council Scholarship.
The new scholarship, which consists of $100,000 pledged over five years, will be awarded annually to one or more students, either graduate or undergraduate, majoring in either dance or music. 
The new scholarship is funded by members of the school’s Advancement Council, a committee of volunteer SOMD advocates who assist the SOMD administration in advocacy and fundraising. Council members Bob Burk, Sammie McCormack, Jan Monti, Natalie Newlove, and Tim Stephenson have all pledged support. UO SOMD dean Brad Foley and director of development Bob Darrah also contributed to the fund.  
“We’re missing top music students that want to come here,” Mary Glass O’Leary explains of her gift. “We see the need for increasing the endowment greatly because of the competition for the top musicians and dancers. I think a lot of people don’t realize that you have to have specific instruments and specific voices for the choir.” 
Jay agrees, noting, “It’s very analogous to the football team, and that takes money, and that takes support.”
“With the creation of the Advancement Council Scholarship, the SOMD has an ever-growing portfolio of scholarship funds we can use in recruiting the best students,” Darrah says.
A quick look at the résumés of Mary Glass O’Leary and Jay O’Leary clearly demonstrate their affection for the Mary’s alma mater. She coordinates the annual reunion for the UO class of 1955, and has served on the board of the Oregon Bach Festival and the leadership council of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Jay, meanwhile, has served on the board of the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
In addition, the couple financially supported the UO Alumni Center Campaign, as well as supporting the creation of a jazz teaching studio (the office of Phillip H. Knight Professor Steve Owen) in the Frohnmayer Music Building.   
Why do the O’Learys stay so involved with the campus community?
“I guess I just grew up with it!” explains Mary. “My father played football for Oregon in the ‘20s at Hayward Field. I’ve had four generations that have attended the university. It’s not just me, it’s my entire family!”
Jay is not a UO graduate, but is rather a Harvard alumnus. A self-described “Duck enabler,” Jay states he wants to support his wife’s UO philanthropy and service “to the hilt.”
It’s a sentiment Darrah applauds. 
“I can’t stress enough how important it is that Mary and Jay have stepped up,” he says. “The O’Learys’ leadership in the giving arena will have a ripple effect, encouraging others to support our incredible students.”