The University of Oregon’s new president, Michael Schill, is in an unprecedented leadership position: accepting what he calls a “jaw-dropping $500 million gift” from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny. He has done so with vision and grace.
As a guest columnist in The Oregonian, Schill described the gift’s purpose and future impact.
“Their amazing generosity will launch the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, a 10-year, $1 billion quantum leap forward in the way Oregon approaches scientific research,” Schill wrote.
His messages hit a leadership sweet spot. Schill’s op-ed knits together gratitude, credit to faculty, outreach to public and private partners, and a clear articulation of the extraordinary gift’s impact not only for science but also, importantly, for the university’s home state.
This op-ed augmented the already significant media coverage the gift received nationally, giving Schill and the university the chance to personalize the messages, spotlight the donor and make an excellent case for continued public and private investment.
The president takes an historic moment in time to capture tremendous and exciting momentum, with a future vision that is broad and inclusive:
“This is a defining moment for the UO and the state of Oregon, one that will push the bounds of discovery and the limits of our imagination. We are eager to seize this moment –to partner with the state, public universities, industry, alumni, donors and the community –to make our world a better place. The possibilities are limitless.”