Phil Knight donates $500M

9/21/2013: For cancer research at OHSU, if they can match the gift within two years. In the Oregonian.

In other news, Nike refuses to release information on its political contributions. In the Oregonian.

Given the comments so far, here’s my opinion, fwiw:

I am an expert on charitable giving, and I think that Knight’s OHSU pledge is great. It’s large, generous, and the matching requirement is a common and effective fundraising technique that goes back at least as far as Andrew Carnegie and his local library gifts. I’m no cancer researcher, but I can’t see any reason to think that OHSU won’t spend the money effectively.

On the other hand, the second story, about Nike’s refusal to report most political donations, ought raise many red flags about secret political influence. This is true especially in light of all the SB 270 lobbying and the weakening of faculty representation, and the special tax breaks the legislature gave Nike earlier this year.

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28 Responses to Phil Knight donates $500M

  1. Anonymous says:

    OHSU loves UOM

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Why not just give the 500M gift? Phil’s been watching too many reality TV shows.

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  3. UO Matters says:

    The match incentivizes other donors – every $1 they give means $2 for research, thanks to the Knights.

    It also gives OHSU an incentive to work hard to find those other donors.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well, that’s the theory, isn’t it? The real question is how much actually goes to research? Cancer is a huge industry and will never be “cured”.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s funny how the “never be cured” trope can either be a realistic assessment of a complex disease or an ignorant, crackpot conspiracy rant.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Or as a third alternative, it could be a realistic assessment of a complex medical and economic situation that has developed over many decades.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Or, as a fourth alternative, the Knight bashers are trying to find some way to put a negative spin on this awesome pledge. Nice job Phil!

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    • Anonymous says:

      The comments about a cancer cure has nothing to do with Knight, so it can’t be an alternative.

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    • Anonymous says:

      As far as “cancer as industry”, check out this article that details development of Gleevec, the drug for which Dr. Brian Druker (from the Oregonian article/OHSU) is ultimately credited. And remember, this is only ONE DRUG amongst many out there developed not only for cancer, but many other things.

      http://www.innovation.org/index.cfm/StoriesofInnovation/InnovatorStories/The_Story_of_Gleevec

      The background reads like a cold-case file with delays and new researchers added to the mix. Finally, an answer is found followed by huge charges to obtain the drug. Read about what happened with Gleevec here:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imatinib

      and then scroll down to “Cost” and “Legal Challenges to Generics” to get a glimpse of the machine behind honest doctors, researchers and fundraising for a decent cause.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    This story has me pause for a minute. It is an awesome gesture, full of generosity, and to be praised. However, while I and others celebrate the Knights with OHSU, we are also anticipating the gift being exploited by those supporting the extravagance of UO football admins and coaches to justify the recent $140m (or whatever it actually was) gift for the Sweat Shop.

    Note from the Oregonian that OHSU asked the Knights for $1b. It makes me wonder what MG asks for. If he or our past presidents ask at all. Do they just wait for gifts and say thank you? Please don’t tell me that they ask for more athletic gifts. (I understand Rob Mullens doing so. That’s his job and I expect nothing less.)

    This story reveals what is most difficult about charity, as the close timing of the Sweat Shop breaking news and this large gift to cure cancer reveals a certain gross reality. Duck football will not cure cancer. Stop pretending that the fancy digs are akin to curing cancer and to be celebrated as if they are that cure. Knight’s gift to OHSU seems well considered and good. I would feel honored to participate in stewarding such an investment. The Ducks athletic department? They’re just his play toy, left only to consume his great wealth, bit by bit.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I find it crazy that gifts to the athletic department are just as tax-deductible as gifts for cancer research.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Blame the U.S. Congress, not the UO.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Fishwrapper sez: In other words, we have only ourselves to blame.

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    • Anonymous says:

      “It is an awesome gesture, full of generosity, and to be praised. However,”

      Quit while you’re ahead. No “however” necessary. The rest of your comment is confused and pointless.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yea, you’re right Anon above. This is a university community, and there is no place for “however” sorts of things, or for conditioning our praise on subtleties. We’re suppose to be absolutist in everything. Go Ducks! Go Ducks in absolutely everything! Yea yea yea!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t mistake sophistry for honest debate.

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    • Anonymous says:

      “Note from the Oregonian that OHSU asked the Knights for $1b. It makes me wonder what MG asks for. If he or our past presidents ask at all.”

      Yes, they’ve asked, and they continue to ask.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if Phil Knight is more inclined to give money to UO academics now that there is a faculty union?

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    • UO Matters says:

      Of course not. On the other hand, maybe the fact we’re still so underpaid will keep his cockles warm.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    You have an amazing wonderful job that allows you to spend an untold number of hours on this blog. You have retirement and health insurance. Millions of people would trade with you. “Were still so underpaid” rings pretty hollow with most working stiffs.

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    • UO Matters says:

      The average US Dentist has take home pay of about $192,000, last I looked. Lots of skill and education required, my dentist deserves it, I don’t begrudge her a dime of it, and I’m glad the pay is enough to attract qualified people willing to earn nothing and go into debt while they are trained.

      Millions of people would trade places with my dentist, but I don’t think I’d want many of them getting near with with a drill, anymore than I’d want them teaching calculus and its applications to college students.

      Besides, it’s Sunday. I don’t know what my dentist is doing with the day off but among other things I’m answering student emails, preparing a talk, etc.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    First world complaint…..

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  8. UO Matters says:

    What’s not to like about this OHSU pledge? It’s large, generous, and the matching is a common and generally effective fundraising technique that must go back at least as far as Andrew Carnegie and his local libraries. I’m no cancer researcher, but there’s no reason not to think that OHSU will spend the money effectively.

    On the other hand, the second story, about Nike’s refusal to report most political donations, ought raise many red flags about political influence, especially in light of all the SB 270 lobbying and the weakening of faculty representation, and the special tax breaks the legislature gave Nike earlier this year.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Your an expert on charitable giving? What’s your background?

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    • Anonymous says:

      That should read “You are …”. Sorry, I’m not an English professor.

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    • UO Matters says:

      http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=P-TjHbEAAAAJ&hl=en

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    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the link.
      I disagree, however, that a matching gift challenge at this $$ level and within this arena will be as effective as say a guaranteed gift of $300 million plus an additional $200 million if a total of $500 million from other benefactors is pledged. The updated article makes it clear that he won’t give a partial gift if $500 million isn’t raised. We’ve got two years to see how it goes.

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    • Anonymous says:

      To add — the second article about Nike’s political influence and contributions sits at an interesting justaposition to the gift challenge given that the government funds so much medical research. Better watch it, cuz someone might suggest you’re being conspiratorial!

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