Phil Knight Pledges $400 Million to Stanford University

Phil Knight Pledges $400 Million to Stanford University

Photo credit: L.A. Cicero

Stanford University has announced a $400 million gift from alumnus and Nike founder Philip H. Knight (MBA '62) to establish a graduate-level scholarship aimed at preparing a new generation of global leaders.

Named in honor of John L. Hennessy, Stanford's outgoing president, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program will admit a hundred high-achieving students from a range of backgrounds and nationalities who have demonstrated leadership ability and civic commitment and have been nominated by their undergraduate universities. Scholars will receive funding for three years to pursue a degree in one of Stanford's seven graduate and professional schools, complemented by additional courses designed to develop their capacity to lead transformational change.

With a $750 million endowment, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars will be the largest fully endowed scholarship program in the world. In addition to Knight's founding gift — the largest cash gift from an individual in Stanford history — the program has received gifts of $100 million from Robert King (MBA '60) and his wife, Dorothy, and $50 million from Stanford board chair Steven Denning (MBA '78) and his wife, Roberta (AB '75, MBA '78). The Kings' gift will fund a cohort of scholars from less economically developed regions of the world and will also support the King Global Leadership Program, a training and development curriculum in which all Knight-Hennessy Scholars will participate.

"We wanted to create something enduring, that would be unlike anything else currently available to the world's brightest minds, and that would make the biggest impact possible toward solving global challenges affecting the environment, health, education, and human rights," said Hennessy, who will serve as the program's inaugural director. "We will bring together outstanding, courageous scholars to benefit from Stanford's innovative educational environment, who then go on to lead governments, businesses, nonprofits, and other complex organizations and develop creative solutions to effect positive change."

"Stanford Launches Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program." Stanford University Press Release 02/23/2016.