Michael and Arlette Nelson commit $10 million to strengthen programs and enhance the campus of the University of Portland




September 22, 2017

Portland businessman Michael E. Nelson ’76, a member of the University of Portland Board of Regents, and his wife Arlette have made a $10 million gift to enhance the campus infrastructure and support academic programs, the University announced Friday.  

The $10 million commitment includes a lead gift for the construction of a new physical plant facility on the University’s lower property. Additionally, the gift will support academics and scholarships within the School of Nursing and the Pamplin School of Business.

“I am honored to be able to help the University of Portland and to carry on the memory of my father,” said Nelson. “He was a true visionary and a wise, deeply ethical man in both his professional and personal life. The mission of the University of Portland goes hand-in-hand with the beliefs and practices he and our family business have valued for decades.” The new physical plant facility will be named after Nelson’s father, the late Walter E. Nelson, founder and namesake of the family’s janitorial and paper supply distribution company.

“Mike and Arlette have generously supported the University over the years in ways that are close both to their hearts and their minds, from an endowed professorship to scholarships and now to our facilities,” said University president Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C. “They continue this tradition of giving back in meaningful ways through this significant gift, which will support not only our nursing and accounting programs, but also the construction of a much-needed new facility for our operations staff.”

Michael and Arlette Nelson are longtime supporters of the University of Portland and its mission. Michael graduated in 1976 with a degree in accounting, and their daughter, Ellerey, one of their four children, graduated from the University’s School of Nursing in 2016.  In 2013, the Nelsons established the Walter E. Nelson Distinguished Professorship in the Pamplin School of Business. Designed to help retain full-time faculty in the areas of accounting and finance, the gift supports curricular development and research. Dr. Bahram Adrangi, professor of economics, is the first recipient of the Nelson professorship.

Michael Nelson grew up in the St. Johns area, where he attended Roosevelt High School. After graduating from the University, he joined the janitorial supply business founded by his father in 1945. As CEO, he has led the business, with its main office on Swan Island, in significant growth. It is now the largest family-owned janitorial, chemical, and paper distributor in the Pacific Northwest with more than 400 employees and branches in Astoria, Auburn, Bellingham, Bend, Eugene, Medford, North Bend, Salem, Spokane, and Walla Walla.


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