University of Oregon alumnus and Nike co-founder Phil Knight

University of Oregon alumnus and Nike co-founder Phil Knight

Don Ryan/AP

The University of Oregon has received $500 million dollar gift from Phil and Penny Knight to create a new campus-within-a-campus devoted to fast-track scientific discoveries.  

The donation will cover half the cost of a new Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact in Eugene. President Michael Schill says the campus will help the university broaden its reach. Researchers and entrepreneurs will work in the same spaces, speeding the process of translating research discoveries into real-world products and services. 

“We’ve always been a school that does great interdisciplinary basic science, so making discoveries. But we don’t have a medical school, and we don’t have an engineering school,” Schill said. “So those discoveries pretty much stayed on campus or were published in journals. We never got to make an impact on the world to the extent that our faculty desired to.”   

The Knights’ gift is the largest ever for a public flagship university. Phil Knight earned his business degree at the University of Oregon before co-founding Nike. 

He and his wife donated half a billion dollars to Oregon Health & Sciences University last year for cancer research.