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Phil and Penny Knight give second $500M for Knight Campus

Matthew Kish has the story here.

Dear University of Oregon Community,

Please join us for a special celebration and announcement of a $500 million gift from Penny and Phil Knight.This morning at 11:00 a.m., the University of Oregon will host a livestream event at the Knight Campus.

  • What: Knight Campus Announcement and Celebration
  • When: 11:00 a.m., Today, Tuesday, July 6
  • Where: View the livestream by visiting this website

If you are not able to join the livestream, we will be sharing additional information and a video on the same page shortly after the event later today.

Sincerely,Office of the President


  1. poor professor 07/06/2021

    That’s $1,000,000,000 Mike Schill has brought in for academics, just from Uncle Phil. He’s earned his bonus.

    • uomatters Post author | 07/06/2021


      • Dogmatic Ratios 07/09/2021

        I hope you’re both being sarcastic. Reflexive cries of ‘Money! Yay!’ attack everything that’s genuinely important to an educational or research institution.

        • Environmental necessity 07/10/2021

          More or less than reflexive rejection of the importance of money to realizing the mission of an educational and research institution?

        • if 07/11/2021

          There are no strings attached,
          then this is a good thing.


  2. thedude 07/06/2021

    This is awesome.

    Hopefully the negotiated raises signal to these new academics that come with the campus that their salaries will keep up with inflation…

  3. Townie 07/06/2021

    Another big gift. Congrats to all involved!

    Thank you Penny and Phil!

  4. Been there 07/10/2021

    How much of this gift will go to the humanities or social sciences? Dance? Music? Precisely zero. Even science departments will see little if any benefit. Restricting the gift to the best funded program on campus while nearly all other academic departments are in desperate need of support after decades of cuts is like pumping up your biceps and letting the rest of the body decay. Decisions like this, with no faculty involvement, are what triggered the formation of the union. It’s a Schill game.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 07/10/2021

      I hear you. One can hope that the Knights will provide a major infusion into the programs of the “old campus.” I won’t speculate about what they have planned, because all I know is hearsay. They have certainly given a lot in the past. Who knows how well UO has tried to sell them on a “big vision”? I know that Phil wanted to do something big in terms of endowment and state funding back in the days of President Lariviere — “The Hat” — how many people remember him? The state shunned it, and Phil’s disgust was quite public. People, including faculty who probably aren’t benefiting themselves, were able to sell him on the “Knight Campus” idea — “translational science.” That is certainly more than most mid-level public universities are able to do.

  5. Thomas Hager 07/10/2021

    Yay, but. . . . am I the only one worried about what this huge effort means to the UO’s commitment to free and open scientific research? This appears to be a major shift from NSF-style public funding to private funding, from what used to be called pure research to corporate-funded applied research. Has anyone here dug into the details of the corporate/academic contracting involved, limits on publication, patenting and licensing arrangements, use of public resources for private gain? The devil here will be in the details.

    • Fishwrapper 07/10/2021

      Good point. The first $500million was in 2016, now it’s a full billion. By comparison, the state’s flagship research university awarded over $1.57billion in research funding from 2015/16 through 2019/20. And all that largesses is not sole-sourced from a cordwainer… Compared minus the Knight’s largesse, for the 2019/20 year, OSU reported $342million in awards, and the UO reports $168.5million.

      I’m not ungrateful that the Knights have made their two large gifts. They are huge, and they are game-changers. But I was taught at an early age to not keep all my eggs in one basket… And while it’s not a wild-assed speculation to suggest that these investments may result in increased external awards to the Knight Campus down the road, it’s worth noting, as a nod to Thomas, that the broader research portfolio further down the Willamette includes a large number of humanities and social science studies – that’s a campus-wide portfolio, across all colleges.

      • Oldtimer 07/11/2021

        On funding comparisons between UO and OSU, it’s apples and oranges unless done program by program for the two schools since UO has no engineering school, no vet med school, and no ag school. These are grant funding engines and reflect state political decisions long ago

        • Fishwrapper 07/11/2021

          Agreed. I wasn’t trying to equate – only suggest that one campus has a better base of broader funding. If the long-term result is that the Knight gifts catalyze expansion of external funding, that should benefit the entire state on the whole. Unless Thomas’ concerns are realized…

      • just different 07/12/2021

        “sole-sourced from a cordwainer”

        I see what you did there

    • Dog 07/11/2021

      The balance here is somewhat delicate:

      a) you could be right

      b) perhaps this private funding will be the catalyst for major new NSF funding in new and emerging areas. Personally, I would like to believe this will be the outcome

      c) The end result could also be the UO that is focused now entirely on biomedical gadgets.

  6. Oldtimer 07/11/2021

    Another wonderfully generous gift, but apropos various concerns, one wonders what is actually in the gift agreement.

  7. thedude 07/11/2021

    Clearly, the easiest way for Knight to support the arts and social sciences is if he could endow the law school that already bears his name so that it doesn’t suck away 10-15m every year from the rest of CAS.

    • Old Gray Mare 07/12/2021

      +1,000, since we can’t have the like button

  8. Mike 07/12/2021

    What part pays for the “leering Phil” mirrors in the women’s restrooms?

  9. Leporillo 07/12/2021

    Will we ever be able to successfully link Phil Knight’s wealth the exploitation of “third world” workers and the offshore tax manipulation that benefits wealthy industrialists?

    Maybe better to simply say, “Thank you, Phil,” and let it go at that.

  10. Thomas Hager 07/12/2021

    I certainly don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. But I am concerned that amid the blizzard of PR here, it’s difficult to find any details on the types of research that will be conducted, the likely nature of the arrangements with corporate sponsors, limits on open communication of results, etc. etc. Given the UO’s woeful public records record (so to speak), it’s unlikely good answers will be forthcoming after the fact. See this for a general statement of some major issues:

    • Dog 07/13/2021

      again most will go to biomedical/bio-engineering research and the associated large amount of partners necessary for this since the UO
      has way below critical mass in these areas (essentially this mass = 0).

      While I understand donor intentions, this will go down in history as one of the stranger donor scenarios out there, since an investment has been made in a University that has essentially 0 experience in these areas.

      It is fine to make an investment in underexperienced area, but
      probably not fine for that investment to be exclusive of other
      related areas.

  11. XDH 07/13/2021

    Uncle Phil only likes to build structures/edifices – ask Human Phys. They got new lab space in the lower levels of the new Hayward Field but ZERO Phil money to complete them, which required separate donors. I have heard some of the space in the KC is much the same way – shelled but not finished/outfitted. Still, it seems crazy that $500M does not get one a 100% tricked-out structure. The other thing to keep in mind is that (supposedly) KC PIs have to pay fees for everything – imagine CAMCOR on steroids. No thank you!

    • Dog 07/14/2021

      yes, the KC is definitely an operational Charlie Foxtrot at this point

  12. Jake 07/16/2021

    Phil knight turned my moderately respectable liberal arts degree into an embarrassing degree from a meat head football school. If I was going to do it over again I’d rather go to OSU.

    • Environmental necessity 07/16/2021

      But then your liberal arts degree would be even less respectable.

      • charlie 07/22/2021

        Not according to the WSJ, which ranks flagship academics at the bottom of the PAC 12. OSU is second worst. So, there…

        PS: WSJ rankings are from a few years ago, but well after other Uncle Phil money lava flows. So why is anyone thinking this latest injection is gonna alter the trend??

        • Environmental necessity 07/22/2021

          Even assuming we should reach such a conclusion on the strength of a single rating scheme (most others reach different conclusions), the comparison here is not university vs. university but UO liberal arts degree vs. OSU liberal arts degree, which is no contest. OSU has very few highly-ranked social science or humanities departments.

          • charlie 07/22/2021

            Actually, the WSJ has been doing an excellent job regarding investigative reporting and analysis of American universities. In 20212, they broke the story of U of Minnesota’s admin overhead being far higher than industry standard. The story was sparked because of U Of M’s consistent bullshit slinging to the state’s legislature when that body asked why costs were exploding.


            Compelling stuff, so much so, the Minnesota senate utilized WSJ’s analysis to demand change of their flagship’s, ahem, ‘sloppy bookkeeping.’ The WJS’s research capabilities and bona fides are among the world’s best. If their analysis of the two primary Oregon public unis reveals they are the worst in the PAC12, then any claims of flagship’s superiority over the other bottom dweller in any one category isn’t of much significance. That’s certainly true for any thoughtful potential admit who would do a careful analysis. All that, despite Uncle Phil’s money lava flow, makes it even more ironic…

    • Townie 07/22/2021

      He rebranded UO and it is now perceived as being worse. This aging billionaire has too much power.

  13. moss defender 07/20/2021

    If the faculty senate had any sense at all they would be providing the public with some details (where are the plans?) about what the impact of this new 500 (and the one after) might be…UO CONTINUES DEATHSTAR TRAJECTORY…..truly pathetic…is any enviro nerd professor taking issue with the UO and the city govt leaving a huge riverfront underground toxic waste dump intact while building still more sweeping luxurious plastic grass turf facilities above it…you will rot in hell for this ducks

  14. thedude 07/26/2021

    Just to state the obvious again this is great.

    If we want Phil to donate to something that will help the average professor at UO, the easiest way is to get him to donate to the law school so they quit sucking money out of CAS every single term. We’ve gotten so used to it, but don’t forget every single year, our VP of finance robs the liberal arts and social sciences to keep her law school hubby’s school in the black.

  15. Townie 10/03/2021

    The Toronto Star reports that Knight benefactor Joseph Tsai utilized off-shore tax havens for his investment in Alibaba.

    “Tsai’s name shows up as director or shareholder of at least a dozen companies registered in offshore tax havens including the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Bahamas.”

    But it might be a nothing burger:

    “While Tsai is the second-largest shareholder of Alibaba, the Canadian citizen is not allowed to make a direct investment in the Chinese firm as China restricts direct foreign investment in tech, media and other sectors. Instead, he is able to hold Alibaba shares in its subsidiary firms incorporated in the tax havens, said Doris Fischer, chair of China business and economics at the University of Würzburg in Germany.”

    Money corrupt folks. As a student I learned to be weary of neo-fascist China. Meanwhile, UO humanities faculty pushed for “Confucius Institutes” for grants and prestige.

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