M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

As we celebrate and honor the legacy of our benefactor, Jack Murdock, on what would have been his 103rd birthday, we are taking a moment to reflect on how his personality continues to vibrantly infuse the work of the Murdock Trust. You can read the first section of this reflection on our website here and the final part of this series here.

Part 2 – Investing in Innovation

Jack was always asking the question, “what is possible?” His passion for the radio stemmed from its potential to connect communities around the world with a single message. While serving his country in World War 2, he began to see new potential through the oscilloscope. The technology behind his first passion, radio, could unlock a plethora of new opportunities and tools for humankind through the creation of visual outputs.

As this new invention rapidly revolutionized several industries and Tektronix grew, Jack continued to see the immeasurable value innovation could offer and he sought to instill this emphasis on creating positive change through innovation in his teams. He believed so strongly in this idea that he often personally invested in Tektronix employees as they left the firm to launch their own technology startup. To date, hundreds of key players, including small startups and global brands, in the technology space have helped improve life for individuals, families and communities through investment by Tektronix and Jack Murdock. Today, we seek to keep that spirit alive through strategic investments in nonprofits delivering on Jack’s vision.

Scientific Research

Perhaps one of the clearest connections between Jack’s life and passion and the work of the Trust today can be found in our partnerships with scientific research institutions. Jack believed deeply in the power of scientific research and exploration as a means to dramatically shape the future in positive ways. From life-saving medical breakthroughs to green energy exploration, the work underway in labs and facilities around the Pacific Northwest is helping write the story of the future.

When discussing the value that technological advancement can have on the overall quality of life of citizens, Jack once said,

“[A]utomation is a curse if we walk our vision to the past and try to solve the serious problems in manners which guarantee the preservation of outmoded institutions and techniques. Automation, on the other hand, is a blessing if we utilize the new technology effectively, while at the same time we examine what must be done in human terms to reap the benefits of our technical progress. Our primary task then is to unleash the creative forces in man rather than those of destruction and despair.”

Study and innovation uncovered by researchers at the University of Washington, University of Alaska, Reed College, University of Montana, Boise State University, Fred Hutch, the Institute for System’s Biology and so many other amazing homes of scientific excellence are helping both unlock the imagination of what tomorrow can bring while seeking to release us from the challenges and “despair” of today.

Education In and Out of the Classroom

Jack Murdock understood that true education requires exposure to both academic principles and real-world applications. An excellent student in the classroom, Jack was equally inspired by learning through exploration. The science and math classes he took during the day helped fuel his passion for technology repair and innovation in his workshop in the evenings and on weekends.

As the Trust has grown over the last 45 years, we have had the opportunity to partner with a variety of organizations that help inspire students by helping bring learning to life in innovative ways.

  • Zoos and aquariums like the Oregon Zoo, Point Defiance Zoological Society, Zoo Boise, Alaska Zoo, Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Woodland Park Zoological Society help teach children and families about wildlife, the role they play in our natural ecosystem and ways we can all help protect various species.
  • Hands on museums like Portland Children’s Museum, OMSI, Imagine Children’s Museum and KidsQuest Children’s Museum give children and families space to engage and connect with a variety of concepts in engaging ways.
  • Equine Therapy facilities, like Swiftsure Ranch, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, Eagle Mount, Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center and Rising Stars Therapeutic Riding Center help provide life skills to children, teens and families through engagement with horses.

Though he left the classroom with his diploma in 1935, Jack believed the world was his school and learning was a lifetime adventure. He never stopped learning from those around him. His learning, leadership and service were recognized by the University of Portland with an honorary Doctorate in 1966. We hope to continue supporting opportunities for individuals to learn and grow in a variety of ways and at all stages of life.

View Part 1 of this series here.


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