A $500 million pledge from the co-founder of Nike is fueling the University of Oregon's ambitious plans to build a new science complex on its Eugene campus.
The university says the huge financial commitment from Phil Knight, a university alumnus, and his wife, Peggy, will lead to the creation of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.
"This game-changing initiative is specifically designed to fast-track scientific discoveries and the process of turning those discoveries into innovations that improve the quality of life for people in Oregon, the nation and beyond," the university announced.
"The Knight Campus will reshape the higher education landscape in Oregon by training the next generations of scientists, forging tighter ties with industry and entrepreneurs and creating new educational opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students."
The university says the Knights' $500 million lead gift is the largest ever for a public flagship institution. Oregon officials say they plan to seek out additional donors and raise a total of $1 billion for the project.
“In an age of declining public support for scientific research generally and declining public higher education support specifically, Penny and I are delighted to contribute to these critically important areas,” Phil Knight says.
“While not without risk, we believe the expected societal returns from such investments are high. And here at home in Oregon, we believe the potential to arm our talented young people with the skills and tools they will need to have a lasting impact on the world and to pursue rewarding careers makes such investments essential.”
When fully realized, the Knight Campus will consist of three new 70,000-square-foot buildings adjacent to the university's existing science complex. The campus will be outfitted with cutting-edge labs, research facilities, prototyping tools, imaging facilities, human subject interaction space and an innovation hub.