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Giving to the College

History Library Endowment Fund

Dr. Beckham retired from Lewis & Clark in June of 2011, after 34 years of inspiring students on Palatine Hill.  Now it’s our turn to support Steve. Here’s how you can honor Steve’s legacy.

Consider making a gift or pledge to Steve’s preferred fund, the History Library Endowment Fund. Once the fund reaches its $100,000 goal, it will provide about $4,500 each and every year to assist the Department of History in the acquisition of vital books. 

Make your gift online, call us at 800.753.9292, or send your check payable to Lewis & Clark, with History Library Endowment Fund written in the memo section, to Lewis & Clark, MSC 57, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, Portland, Oregon, 97219.

Excerpts from an interview with Stephen Dow Beckham:

Favorite courses: For seven summers, I teamed up with the college’s sailing instructors and taught Indians of the Northwest Coast, a field-based course in British Columbia. Also, on five occasions, I taught a course called On the Trail of Lewis and Clark. We retraced the explorers’ route, often on horseback, from the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana to the Pacific Ocean.

But the course I’ve heard the most about from former students—the one they say changed their lives or made their careers possible—was Historical Materials. It’s a course in research methods. When I came to the college, the focus of the seminar was exclusively on bibliography or bibliographical method, but I quickly transformed it into a course based on this philosophy: “If you can imagine a source exists, it probably does exist, and then your job is to find it.”

Affirmation of passion for teaching and research: In 1998, I spent 102 days with 25 students in East Africa. Our ultimate adventure was climbing Mount Kenya, which is one mile higher than Mount Hood. A particularly memorable moment was being on the peak of the mountain at dawn. The sun came up over the Indian Ocean, sending ripples of light across East Africa and illuminating Mount Kilimanjaro to the south. That study program provided a very interesting collective learning encounter with history, culture, language, and the environmental setting of East Africa.

People might not know… My wife and I have a beach home in Neskowin. I’m often working in the garden there. This year, it’s Bambi versus the professor—deer and I don’t get along. We’ve seen bears, cougars, and whales. We’re right at the oceanfront, so we just walk down across two lawns, and we’re on the beach.

Favorite place on campus: Whenever I come to Lewis & Clark, I always park, if possible, at the margin of campus so I can walk through this beautiful setting.

I’m most proud of: Even though my career has been that of a classroom teacher, not an administrator, I am proud of the fundraising I’ve been able to do. I coauthored two successful National Endowment for the Humanities grants; I helped secure the gifts of the libraries of John and LaRee Caughey and the libraries of Dr. Eldon Chuinard and Francis Haines, which have enriched the college’s collections on the American West; I facilitated donations to the law school from the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe and the Quinault Allottees Association. Also, my former students and friends have created the History Department Library Acquisition Fund, which is now at $72,000. When it reaches $100,000, it will provide supplemental funds for the purchase of books and online periodical subscriptions.

What’s next: I’m shifting gears. As a longtime friend and former professor observed: “I’ve taught other people’s kids for 42 years, now I’m going to work on my grandkids.” My wife and I have four grandchildren under the age of 4: twin boys and two girls. They are keeping us very busy.