Nike mogul's $500M gift to Oregon largest in history to public university
- The Oregonian profiles the latest gift from Nike founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny; a $500 million commitment to fund a new science research complex on its Eugene, OR campus.
- The gift, which school officials called the largest to any state-supported institution in U.S. history, continues a philanthropic legacy which includes support for the campus library, law school, several endowed professorships and virtually the entire athletic department.
- Oregon President Michael Schill told The Oregonian that the gift affirms the state's decision to give the university its own governing board, and its ability to cultivate resources benefiting the state and the nation from private donors.
Part of cultivating large donors, like Oregon and Phil Knight or Johns Hopkins University and Michael Bloomberg, is focusing on student engagement before one is in a position to write such large checks. Both had some transformative experience which helped them to realize not only the value of their college years, but that other students in future generations should have access to the same opportunities.
College executives must remember that they will never know who the next billionaire could be to single-handedly make the school a nationally-relevant institution in research or athletics, like Phil Knight has done for Oregon. That's why customer service, commitment to diversity and providing enterprise development opportunities are a critical part of today's college culture and elements that must be developed in all elements of the campus experience.