The University of Oregon has announced a $500 million gift from alumnus ('59) and Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, for a new science complex.
To be disbursed in $50 million installments over ten years, the gift will support a $1 billion initiative to build a science hub focused on accelerating research on "innovations, products or cures that could improve the quality of life for people in Oregon, the nation and the world." To be named the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, the complex will feature cutting-edge labs, research facilities, prototyping tools, imaging facilities, human subject interaction space, and an innovation hub spread across three 70,000-square-foot buildings adjacent to the university's existing science campus. The complex is expected to host a full-time research staff of about three hundred — including thirty top-tier scientists and their teams — as well as two hundred and fifty graduate students, a hundred and fifty postdoctoral researchers, and a hundred and fifty undergraduates.
According to the Oregonian, the initial focus of the new hub will be the life sciences. In 2013, the Knights made a $500 million challenge gift to Oregon Health and Science University for a $1 billion cancer research initiative, while earlier this year they gave $400 million to Stanford University for a graduate-level global leadership program.
"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," said Phil Knight. "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."