California’s Stanford University, and one of the most prestigious institutions worldwide, has received $400 million from Nike’s chairman and co-founder, Philip H. Knight. His generous donation was given to contribute to scholarship funds and the recruitment of potential graduate students globally.
Stanford is known for admitting the world’s finest and most academically advanced students, who have high hopes to receive the best education obtainable for their futures academically and career-based. With this in mind, Knight collaborated with Stanford’s president, John Hennessy, and together created the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program with expectations of preparing the next generation of global leaders. These students will have the direction to address some of the society’s most controversial and complex issues, including climate change and international poverty.
Knight, who is a Stanford Graduate School of Business alumnus (1962), obtained his master’s degree in business administration (MBA). As Nike’s co-founder and chairman, he is known for leading one of the world’s largest corporations that market the sales of athletic footwear, equipment, accessories, and apparel in a competitive sports market. His overall successes enabled him to make numerous monetary donations. Knight donated $105 million to Stanford in 2006 and he donated hundreds of millions of dollars more within a 20-year span to the University of Oregon, where he obtained his undergraduate degree.
Although Knight has made generous donations to both the University of Oregon and Standford University, there have been instances where his donations were not processed in an ideal manner. In 2000, he donated $30 million to the University of Oregon’s football stadium’s expansion plan. He withdrew this donation after being notified the university had become allies with a labor group that criticized the production of Nike factories in other countries. In response, the president withdrew his decision to collaborate with the labor group, and the university was still able to retain Knight’s gift.
As Stanford University receives $400 million from Nike’s co-founder and one of the most prominent faces in business, many may argue the initial intent of this “megagift.” Notable leaders, regardless if they are alumni, have donated millions of dollars to elite universities in the past. Critics have evaluated this gesture. Some have argued that providing millions to scholarship funds were due to the reputation of being prestige than the intent of expanding academic excellence. Yet despite this, Knight may have had other tendentious intents considering his philanthropy was due to attending both universities.
According to CNN, Knight’s donation to Stanford is one of the largest monetary gifts made to a university by a single donor. However, the largest donation was made by Knight, which was a $500 million gift to the University of Oregon. This was donated for cancer research to the Oregon Health and Science University. In fact, the university was challenged by Knight to raise $500 million in a two-year period, and if they succeeded, he would match the donation. The university reached their goal in June of 2015.
Stanford University will benefit from the $400 million they received from Nike’s co-founder. It will surely assist in providing academic opportunities to potential graduates globally and will foster “service, collaboration, innovation, and entrepreneurship.” The Knight-Hennessey Program will provide funding for graduate students for a minimal of three years and will cover nearly 80 percent of an individual’s living expenses and graduate education at one of the university’s seven professional and graduate schools. The program will annually allow admission to 100 scholars, and because of this donation, those students will benefit from Stanford’s promise to provide exquisite education to better prepare their students for the unlimited opportunities in their futures.
Opinion by Tricia Manalansan
Edited by Cathy Milne
CNN Money: Nike’s Phil Knight gives $400 million to Stanford University
New York Times: Philip Knight of Nike to Give $400 Million to Stanford Scholars
NPR: Nike Co-Founder Donates $400 Million To Stanford University
Stanford University: Stanford launches Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program
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