Robert W. Franz '41 CP, '88

Chairman (Retired) Key Bank of Oregon

Robert W. Franz

In 1937, Robert W. Franz enrolled at Columbia Prep, the high school that shared the bluff with the University of Portland until the 1950s. As a freshman, he quickly grew to appreciate the teaching methods of Holy Cross priests. “The way they did discipline and the way they taught was very loose and with a very relaxed sort of feeling,” he said of the priests. His experience at Columbia Prep led him to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated in 1948. He continued on to work for a bank and stayed in that field for the next 35 years. “When I joined the bank, it was a single unit operation with some 15-18 employees and with $6 million total assets. When I left, it was an $850 million institution with 45 branches from Portland to Eugene.” 

A member of the University’s Board of Regents, Franz was involved with several community activities over the years. Within the UP community, generous gifts from him and his sister, Elsie Franz Finley, enabled the University to build Franz Hall, which houses the Pamplin School of Business; to establish the Franz Chair in Entrepreneurship; and to create the University Center for Entrepreneurship. Their intent, he said, was to help make the University “one of the major educational institutions on the west coast. In order to do that, somebody had to step forward.” A co-worker once told Franz, “You’re not really a banker. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re always sort of a driving force.”

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