A new institute the University of Oregon is launching is set to invigorate the state’s efforts to improve children’s behavioral health. Establishing the institute also means a major change to UO’s footprint in Portland.

Some of the UO’s Portland programs would relocate from the city’s Old Town neighborhood to the former Concordia University campus in Northeast Portland, according to emails sent to UO Portland students, staff and faculty on Tuesday.

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That move will be kicked off by UO’s purchase of the former Concordia campus thanks to a more than $425 million donation from philanthropists Steve and Connie Ballmer.

The main attraction slated for the former Concordia site is the Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health. UO says the institute will house newly proposed undergraduate degree and certificate programs focused on children’s behavioral health care, and it will work with K-12 schools statewide.

Concordia, formerly Oregon’s largest private university, announced its closure in early 2020 and is currently embroiled in a more than $300 million lawsuit with the technology company HotChalk. For the past few years, many people in the community and wider region have wondered what the 13-acre property would become.

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According to an email sent from UO Provost Patrick Phillips to UO Portland staff and faculty, the university’s board of trustees will review the purchase of the Concordia property later this month. That consideration is likely to have a direct effect on UO’s most high-profile presence in the Rose City — at the iconic White Stag building at the west end of the Burnside bridge.

A screengrab from the Ballmer Institute's March 1 announcement video.

A screengrab from the Ballmer Institute's March 1 announcement video.

University of Oregon

“If we are able to proceed with the purchase of the former Concordia campus, our intent is to eventually relocate operations from the White Stag Block to the new campus,” Phillips wrote. “No matter what happens, this will take some time and there will be an opportunity for all to participate in visioning what our next steps in Portland can look like.”

The White Stag Block, known for the landmark “White Stag” sign on its roof, houses operations like the George S. Turnbull Center, home to some of UO’s journalism master’s programs. It also houses studios and labs for Portland-based product design programs.

Phillips noted in his email that UO’s Lundquist College of Business programs in Portland are not yet part of the conversation of relocating as they are housed in a separately leased space, across the street from White Stag.

Any relocation of UO programs in Portland won’t happen soon.

An email to Portland journalism students from Regina Lawrence, associate dean of the Portland journalism school, states that operations will remain at the White Stag Block through at least the remainder of the academic year.

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