Deans share excitement over historic Knight gift to the UO

President Schill at podium surrounded by supporters

Deans in the UO’s schools and colleges are sharing their enthusiasm about the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. Each of the deans sent messages to their faculty and staff about the announcement of the $500 million Knight gift.

Andrew Marcus, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said in his regular dean blog post that translating basic science to serve the public good requires active engagement from every part of the college.

 “What, for example, are the ethical ramifications of inserting microbes in utero to prevent the development of diabetes, and do these ramifications suggest different approaches to diabetes prevention?” Marcus asked. “How might the creation of materials that enable households to harvest sustainable energy disrupt economies and local cultures — and what can we do to address those disruptions? Does the creation of techniques for rapid monitoring of pollutants in soils indicate that new laws and policies should be developed with regard to acceptable levels of pollution?”

Sarah Nutter, the incoming dean of the Lundquist College of Business, and Bruce Blonigen, the college’s interim dean, also shared their excitement about future collaboration in a joint letter to the college.

“We clearly have expertise and tie-ins to all of these aspirations at the Lundquist College of Business. Whether it is partnering with scientists, academics, and engineers to identify commercialization potential through our Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship or finding new ways for business to run smarter, better, and wiser for the greater good through our Center for Sustainable Business Practices, we have a successful track record of accelerating the cycle of inquiry, discovery, innovation, and impact. Indeed, the integrative, interdisciplinary research to be fostered within the Knight Campus is an ideal match for the interactive environment that underlies the emerging innovation economy.”

In his message, Scott Pratt, dean of the Graduate School, challenged those working in graduate education to begin looking for collaborations and imagining new opportunities.

“Over the next year, the Graduate School will work with the UO leadership and the leadership of the Knight Campus to devise ways to foster graduate education that is as innovative and interconnected as the science that will ground the work of the new campus,” Pratt said. “I can imagine master’s degrees and graduate certificates that enhance and diversify the skills and knowledge of our students across all the disciplines. I can imagine new graduate internship opportunities and collaborations across fields that will help to redefine the liberal arts in the 21st century.”

College of Education Dean Randy Kamphaus expressed deep gratitude for the Knight’s generosity.

“In the months ahead I look forward to working with you to ascertain how we will use the momentum created by this gift to do even better work for children, schools, and society,” Kamphaus said.

Christoph Lindner, dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, said the Knight Campus will bring significant new creative and intellectual energy to the university that will be felt across the entire campus.

“Like A&AA, this initiative places special value on interdisciplinarity and collaboration and for this reason there will be many ways in which A&AA can become involved as the Knight Campus develops. I hope that faculty will embrace the new opportunities that will emerge to collaborate across and beyond disciplinary boundaries,” Linder said.

Dean Juan-Carlos Molleda of the School of Journalism and Communication said the gift offers too many positives to begin to even know at this time and said he sees no negatives.

“Within the SOJC, the Knight Campus has the potential to boost many existing programs and planned initiatives,” he said. “For example, the Science and Memory program has been exploring climate change and how you tell that story in relatable ways for the past three years. The Knight Campus is a natural extension of this program that will allow Science and Memory to grow, allowing collaboration between our faculty and students who are pushing the boundaries on how you take complex science and tell it in a way that is understandable to those outside of academia.”

Terry Hunt, dean of the Clark Honors College, said a gift of this magnitude will buoy many elements of the university, including its ability to attract and retain the best and brightest students from Oregon and around the country. He sees benefits both for the third of Honors College students who major in the sciences as well all opportunities across the college.

“Not only will our students have access to research facilities and resources available through the new campus, but also to the 300 new top-tier scientific researchers that the campus will bring to our community, and who will serve as thesis advisors to honors college students, and teach as Affiliated Faculty in the Clark Honors College,” Hunt said.

Law School Dean Michael Moffitt said his colleague and students have the privilege of working and learning every day in a world-class facility made possible by the generosity of Phil and Penny Knight through a transformative gift in the late 1990s. He is excited about how the law school would contribute to work on the Knight Campus.

Moffitt said, “As I think about the initial opportunities for those of us who learn and work at the Law School, it is plain that entrepreneurship, public policy, and regulation, for example, all have much to say about the pace with which scientific research produces tangible benefits for humanity.”

The School of Music and Dance also added its voice to the chorus of celebration. Dean Brad Foley pointed to collaborations between the Department of Dance and human physiology, the music technology program and music perception and cognition research as some of the cutting edge scientific collaborations already going on in the school. He said the school already is a grateful beneficiary of the Knights’ philanthropy through two Knight Professorships.

“With their latest gift, the Knight family has once again demonstrated their steadfast support for the University of Oregon, and secured their legacy as unparalleled benefactors of our great state,” Foley said.

Adriene Lim, a Knight Chair and dean of the libraries said, "This is a game-changing gift focused on advancing science—which coincides beautifully with the grand opening of our new Price Science Commons & Research Library this fall. A gift if this magnitude will help all of us prosper and, over time, it will enable us to strengthen the Libraries’ capacity as well." ​