Philip H. Knight, a co-founder of Nike, and his wife, Penny, announced today that they are pledging $100-million to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for the university’s cancer institute.
Mr. and Ms. Knight have made several other big gifts in recent years and ranked No. 17 on The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2007 Philanthropy 50, an annual listing of the most-generous donors of the year, for their pledge of $100-million to the University of Oregon, in Eugene. The Knights also gave $105-million in 2006 to Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, in Calif.
Forbes magazine last month pegged Mr. Knight’s wealth at $10.5-billion and said only 30 other Americans were wealthier than he was.
Most of the money the Knights pledged today — $98-million — will establish a special fund that the cancer institute’s director, Brian J. Druker, will be able to use for whatever he wants at the institute. Dr. Druker said his first priority will be to use the money to recruit 40 to 50 new cancer physicians and researchers over the next decade.
The university, whose campus is in Portland, plans to rename the cancer institute for Mr. and Ms. Knight.
Dr. Druker said the Knights’ donation gives the cancer institute financial resources that could be hard to come by as the economy falters.
“If one of our researchers needs some additional funding, has a wonderful idea, an innovative idea, we’ll be able to apply these resources to help them bring their idea to fruition. So having that stability and that cushion right now when people are facing difficult economic times is critically important to our recruitment efforts,” said Dr. Druker.
Dr. Druker said a portion of the gift may be used to expand research and patient-care facilities as well as for new programs, such as developing a statewide network of oncologists working jointly to provide patient care and to improve cancer screening.
The remaining $2-million of the pledged amount will be used to build a group of research labs at the institute that the university plans to name the Linda Conant Laboratory Suite. Ms. Conant was a friend of the Knights’ who died of breast cancer in January. She was a patient at the cancer center.
University officials would not disclose payment details, but said the Knights plan to make installment payments over the next few years.