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University of Oregon receives $100 million gift from Phil and Penny Knight
Release Date: 08/20/2007
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EUGENE, Ore.(Aug. 20, 2007) University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer and UO Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny jointly announced today that the University of Oregon has received a pledge for a $100 million gift from Phil and Penny Knight to create the Oregon Athletics Legacy Fund. The $100 million gift is the largest philanthropic gift in the university’s history. The Legacy Fund will be used to support all athletic programs and allow the university to achieve excellence in its competitive sports.

“This is an historic day for the University of Oregon,” says UO President Dave Frohnmayer. “Phil and Penny Knight are long and generous supporters of the university. They have demonstrated a deep commitment to fostering both athletic as well as academic excellence on the Oregon campus. This contribution reflects a continuing strong dedication to higher education and our students. We are deeply moved by their unprecedented generosity,” said Frohnmayer.

“This extraordinary gift will set Oregon athletics on a course toward certain self sufficiency and create the flexibility and financial capacity for the University to move forward with the new athletic arena. Now we can roll up our sleeves and get to work on making the arena a reality,” said Kilkenny.

Phil and Penny Knight have been long-time supporters of the University of Oregon academics and athletics and are now the largest donors in the University’s history. Prior gifts have included funding for the School of Law, the UO Libraries, more than 15 endowed faculty positions, and a number of other academic and athletic gifts.

The Knight donation will be used to create the Oregon Athletics Legacy Fund. The $100 million gift is the lead contribution toward a $150 million goal for the fund. The fund will be used to support the ongoing operations of Oregon athletics.

Penelope and Philip Knight

Philip H. Knight graduated from the University of Oregon in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting following an impressive career in collegiate track competition. While at the UO, his coach was the legendary Bill Bowerman, who was experimenting with new shoe designs for his runners. Knight developed that interest into a blueprint for the world’s most successful athletic footwear and apparel company.

Phil and Penny Knight, as donors of some of the largest gifts from individuals to the University of Oregon, have helped to transform the lives of students, faculty, and community members through their generous philanthropic support. These donations have enhanced the university’s quality by enabling it to attract outstanding new faculty members, create new facilities and provide new state-of-the-art services and equipment. The Knight donations include:

A 1996 gift of $25 million for two purposes: $15 million to create endowed chairs and professorships across campus and $10 million to finance construction of a 138,000-square foot building for the School of Law. The William W. Knight Law Center is named in honor of Phil Knight’s father who graduated from the UO School of Law in 1932 before starting a distinguished career in law and journalism. The gift for endowed chairs and professorships requires matching funds from other donors and has led to more than 30 such positions.

A significant family gift toward a $27.4 million expansion and renovation of the UO’s main library, the heart of a research university. Completed in October 1994, the expansion increased library space by 50 percent, tripled student seating capacity, added 22 new group-study and seminar rooms, updated facilities for computerized instruction and research, expanded the Instructional Media Center to include state-of-the-art distance learning classrooms, and modernized heating, cooling and lighting systems for user comfort and protection of perishable and often priceless library collections.

A number of additional projects, including the expansion of Autzen Stadium, construction of the Ed Moshofsky Sports Center and support for the UO track program.

  • AD Patrick Kilkenny and UO President Dave Frohnmayer
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