Outside University: 18. University of Oregon

Eugene, Oregon

Aug 14, 2012
Outside Magazine

University of Oregon.   

Sports are big here. Really big. Maybe because one of U.O.’s most famous alums is Nike founder Phil Knight (hence the athletes’ ever-rotating wardrobe of swoosh swag)—or maybe it’s just that being in a place between two national forests (Williamette and Siuslaw) makes you want to get out and get the blood moving.

The Ducks are rabid fans and wear their green and gold long after graduation—especially green. Environmental Studies is one of the most popular academic programs here, an interdisciplinary department with class offerings like “Wetland Ecology and Management” and “Northwest Ethnobotany.”

Much goes on outside the lecture halls, though. The ROTC program’s Ranger Challenge, open to any U.O. student who can make the team, is a varsity sport that puts cadets through mental and physical tests including orienteering, a road ruck, and the one-rope bridge.

If you’re a world-level track star, chances are you’ll race in U.O.’s annual Prefontaine Classic. If you’re not, cheer from the stands and sign up instead for the school’s Outdoors Pursuit program, which provides a good variety of backcountry-oriented leadership training and survival lessons. It offers classes for credit, like avalanche safety and vertical rescue techniques, and hosts two adventure-themed film festivals each year.

Club sports here include cycling, triathlon, climbing, surfing, equestrian, sailing, scuba, bass fishing, and all kinds of skiing and boarding.

There’s a bike-maintenance shop and clinic (rent a bicycle for $60 per year), a beloved rock wall ($11 buys a year of unlimited use), a massive fitness center, and the Rental Barn, where you can get gear for snowboarding (about $25 for all you’ll need), whitewater riding ($100 for a seven-person raft and paddles), and camping ($10 per tent). Outings are affordable too, rarely tipping $15 plus the cost of gas.

Though the 295-acre campus conveys a peaceful, tree-enhanced serenity, U.O. incubates a bit of a rough-around-the-edges culture that leads graduates to become people like Ken Kesey (the psychedelic writer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club), and Ann Bancroft, the first woman to have gotten to the North Pole by foot and dogsled.

CONTACT: (541) 346-1000, uoregon.edu
STUDENT BODY: 20,631 undergraduates, 3,816 graduates
TUITION: residents $2,570, nonresidents $26,478, room and board $10,261