Nike Founder Phil Knight Donates Second $500 Million Gift to the University of Oregon — Here’s Where the Money Is Going

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The University of Oregon announced today that it received a second $500 million donation from Phil Knight and wife Pennny Knight. The gift will fund the next phase of the state-of-the-art Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, which includes expanding its strengths in bioengineering and applied scientific research and training.

In addition, the donation will help create new opportunities for additional students, adding faculty positions and funding a second building, the University of Oregon said.

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Knight, who studied business at the Eugene, Ore., campus and ran track there before founding Nike, donated $500 million to the university first in 2016. The Knight Campus opened its first building in December 2020. To date, the Knights have donated a total $1 billion to the University of Oregon.

Phil Knight Chairman; President, CEO; Nike Inc. - Credit: FN Archives.
Phil Knight Chairman; President, CEO; Nike Inc. - Credit: FN Archives.

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As part of phase two, a second 175,000-sq.-ft., multi-story bioengineering and applied science research building will go under construction. It is slated to be built north of the first Knight Campus building on two acres along Riverfront Research Parkway. It will create new core research facilities and flexible lab spaces that support bioengineering.

The second half billion dollar endowment will also support faculty, with 14 to 16 additional members set to be added to the teams in bioengineering, regenerative medicine, biomedical data science, and other applied interdisciplinary sciences. This brings the total number of Knight Campus tenure-related faculty members to 30.

Plus, the Knight Campus is launching a bioengineering doctorate program and a minor in bioengineering, which marks the first undergraduate program in the Knight Campus and the university’s first undergraduate engineering offering.

“This second $500 million gift accelerates our drive to greater heights of excellence, forging partnerships with other great universities, and creating incredible opportunities for students,” Michael H. Schill, University of Oregon president and professor of law, said in a statement. “It further secures our position as a global university, a destination for discovery, a hub of innovation, and a place of progress and answers.

In 2018, the Knight couple donated $990 million worth of Nike shares to charity.

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