McLaran Center for Student Success

Emphasizing Life-Long Learning Skills

The McLaran Center, housed within what was once a 19th Century mercantile, will open new vistas of opportunity for students, said SKEF executive director Krina Lee. It will provide practical guidance to teens and their parents, including assistance with filling out complicated federal forms for financial aid.

The Center will be an official ASPIRE site, providing mentoring and resources to students and parents facing the daunting task of applying to colleges, looking at trade schools and setting their path for post graduation.

Recent research indicates that students who have been assisted by ASPIRE mentors have an 18 percent greater chance of graduating from high school.

The Center will also be a home to the Oregon College Savings Plan and will provide space for visiting representatives from the area’s colleges, universities, community colleges and trade schools.

The Center’s namesake, Mike McLaran, was a beloved community leader who passed away unexpectedly in 2013.

“Manage yourself before you lead others.”

“Sometimes love is the action that inspires emotion.”

“Preserve dignity. Take the high road.”

“Silence is louder.”

“Publicly give credit and accept blame. Privately correct and discipline.”

“Integrity is earned over decades, but it’s lost in a careless moment.”

“Excellence is hard to get but harder to keep.”

“No one can be great at their role if everyone isn’t great at their role.”

Mike McLaran

Mike McLaran was a widely respected and beloved civic leader whose inspirational leadership carries on to this day through his many disciples.

In comments made at the dedication of the Mike McLaran Center for Student Success, SKEF Board Chairman Brent Neilsen said Mike “embodied the vision of working together to make everyone’s opportunities soar. He valued education, open honest communication, and he valued each of us challenging the other to make our community better.

Looking around the room he was a mentor to many of us, he taught us that leadership is a choice, but if you make that choice you better be prepared to give 110%, and to never question that true leadership comes from the Heart.

For more than 16 years, Mike served as CEO of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. During his tenure, chamber membership increased from 860 to 1,300.

Mike served as campaign chairman for the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley. He was a director on the board of Salem Leadership Foundation, a trustee for the Salem Hospital Board and worked with the Cascade Pacific Council of Boy Scouts of America.

A graduate of the University of Oregon, Mike completed a six-year program in organizational management at UCLA.

His sudden death at age 53 on March 30th, 2013 sent a shock wave throughout the community.

His passing was the lead story in the Sunday Statesman Journal on March 31st of that year.

The reporter for that news story, Capi Lynn, began by saying “The Salem community lost one of its greatest champions, a man who was known for his ability to bring people together and find common ground.”

Civic leader Dick Withnell, who had worked with Mike on a range of objectives, likened Mike to a great athletic coach “that win ballgames but don’t score the runs or make the baskets, but they get the team to win.”