The University of Portland has received money to hand out modest scholarships for those who lighten campus life and get at the truth through humor. The unusual gift was $9,999.99 from Patricia and John Beckman, a 1942 graduate, to fund three annual scholarships of $3,333.33 for "gentle and sidelong humor." For those on campus, it comes as no surprise that the scholarships are named for Brian Doyle, editor of Portland Magazine and aficionado of wit, irony, satire and absurdity.
The awards will go to undergraduate students during the 2012-13 academic year who show a conviction that “in a deep way humor is holy, humor is a form of prayer, humor is a powerful way to draw people together, humor can be a stunning weapon against greed, violence, arrogance and lies.”
Recipients are expected to create a project that makes people laugh and draws people together. Projects can be performances, essays, comic books, songs, short stories, films, anything and everything – “as long as the project is witty, not vulgar, and a substantive effort to share it publicly on campus is made,” John Beckman says.
Beckman says he wanted to show that humor “is not only a crucial aspect of civic, emotional and spiritual health, but a crucially distinctive element of the unusually personal and substantive educational experience at the University of Portland."