History of the Dundon-Berchtold Institute | University of Portland

History of the Dundon-Berchtold Institute

Dundon Berchtolds with Father PoormanAmy Dundon and Jim Berchtold began discussing the idea of moral formation and applied ethics during a University trip in 2011 that included several priests from the Congregation of Holy Cross. During discussions on that trip with then-executive vice president Rev. Mark Poorman, C.S.C.—who had created a similar program at the University of Notre Dame—and others, the couple made an on-the-spot exploratory gift of $25,000. Several months later, after the initial project was fine-tuned, the couple donated $500,000 to bring Fr. Poorman's vision to reality. They pledged an additional $4 million to endow the fund, formally establishing the Dundon-Berchtold Institute and providing for sufficient operating funds and an endowed directorship.

Amy Dundon-Berchtold

Amy Dundon-Berchtold, a member of the University of Portland's Board of Regents, grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in education. Instead of teaching, however, she began a career in real estate, eventually going into business for herself, buying and selling and renovating properties. 

"We envision the Dundon-Berchtold Institute as being a wonderful anchor for University of Portland," Amy said, "making UP a leader of other universities. It will offer an inclusive environment for students from all disciplines seeking to engage in guided discussions as to how personal value systems and beliefs can influence one’s character."

Jim Berchtold

Jim Berchtold is a 1963 graduate of the University of Portland. A retired senior vice president for U.S. Bank, Jim is chairman of Mt. Angel Telecommunications, which was founded in 1910 by his grandfather and later run by his father. Jim was named one of the Pamplin School of Business Administration's "Significant 75" alumni in 2009.

Rev. Mark Poorman, C.S.C.

Fr. Poorman was the University of Portland's 20th president, as well as a theology professor and one of four faculty members who team-taught The Character Project course. He established a program similar to The Character Project at the University of Notre Dame before developing it at University of Portland with Amy's and Jim's help.

"It is my hope," Fr. Poorman said, "that University of Portland graduates will continue to be distinguished for not only their competence but also their moral leadership. My vision is that we are unabashedly and unapologetically about character formation, in every sense. I am not talking merely applied ethics, although we need to do more of that here as well. I am talking every aspect of life, about real moral education and development. With the Dundon-Berchtold Institute, we can establish a genuine expertise and a respected reputation for that."