It was the Gift Heard ‘Round the World.
News of Penny and Phil Knight’s historic $500 million investment in a new University of Oregon science campus spread like a transcontinental sonic boom Tuesday, rattling media websites all the way to the East Coast and beyond. But as shock waves go, this one left people shaken in a good way.
Even with a boiling presidential election and turmoil in the Middle East, news of the gift was prominent across the country. The Wall Street Journal was the first major news outlet to break the story, followed quickly by The Washington Post, Forbes, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The story was even bigger on the West Coast, where it was top news in The Register-Guard, The Oregonian, Oregon Public Broadcasting, the Portland Business Journal and television stations from Medford to Seattle.
The Register-Guard posted one of the first editorials on the gift, calling it a “bold move” and comparing its legacy, The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, to President Kennedy’s goal of landing humans on the moon.
“The University of Oregon’s decision to build a $1 billion scientific research complex within the next decade is an academic moon shot,” the editorial says. “And no one should be surprised that the rocket boosters are Phil and Penny Knight.”
Coverage was widespread throughout the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast, as newspapers, television, radio and websites picked up and amplified the story on across the country.
The gift was big news on social media, too. Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms brought out the inner Duck in people across the nation. Here's a sampling:
I don't even know how to say $500Million, but I love the sound of it! #UOimpact #GoDucks! https://t.co/dnD29L2pQ3— Jane Irungu (@JNIrungu) October 18, 2016
What an exciting day to be a Duck! #UOregon #UOimpact #GoDucks https://t.co/olumeXnUmZ— Jennie Donahue (@jennie_donahue) October 18, 2016
Michael Schill @uoregon seemed optimistic from the get-go about securing a big Phil Knight gift. Done. https://t.co/TE7A2lntny— Jack Stripling (@jackstripling) October 18, 2016
"This is a great day for the @uoregon, as we celebrate the creation of the Knight Science Campus." #UOimpact #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/4d4Zltqg1T— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) October 18, 2016
Thx to the Knights for their incredible generosity! This transformative gift will take OR higher ed to the next level for many generations https://t.co/mXqiAGYsHb— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) October 18, 2016
Amazing generosity from two extremely great people. Thank you Penny and Phil. https://t.co/fTMOuNXk7C— Andrew Wheating (@AndrewWheating) October 19, 2016
What a guy. https://t.co/FyMrCRq1EG— Ashton Eaton (@AshtonJEaton) October 18, 2016
penny & phil knight, thank you for fueling the future! it's a gift to be a duck! https://t.co/E0AlEfoWk7— Alexi Pappas (@AlexiPappas) October 19, 2016
Big news today for our friends at @uoregon https://t.co/x5QE8E80B8— OHSU News (@OHSUNews) October 19, 2016
Proud of my Biology colleagues @granex, Karen, and @wcresko spearheading the new Knight campus at @uoregon! https://t.co/H0X2un3vPp— Matthew Barber (@bioBarber) October 18, 2016
Really exciting news for @uoregon science! $500M gift for Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact https://t.co/sSGmY4w8MK— Roxana Hickey (@roxana_hickey) October 18, 2016
Ex superstar Dean at @uchicagolaw, Mike Schill, is now superstar president at @uoregon. A $500 million gift! https://t.co/Kkd86h7vQw— Omri Ben-Shahar (@omribenshahar) October 18, 2016
As a scientist and faculty at the UO today is historic. Imagine the possibilities @uoregon— Julie Haack (@jahaack) October 18, 2016
Congrats to @uoregon on receiving $500 million gift! https://t.co/ZlDh03eKlD— Larry Ladd (@LarryLadd1) October 18, 2016
Congrats @uoregon on this amazing gift #philanthropy #giving #highered https://t.co/Y7UaOJODoU— Andy Germak (@andygermak) October 18, 2016
Just give it! Massively. Nike co-founder's $500m gift to @uoregon for interdisciplinary science aces it. https://t.co/bLCCkw6lJC— Joanna Motion (@MotionJoanna) October 18, 2016
Congrats @uoregon. Big day for Ducks.— Ryan Frank (@rfrnk) October 18, 2016
@uoregon Just Amazing! How two wonderful people can keep giving so much hope to humanity. The world is blessed to have Penny and Phil— Jerry Allen (@VoiceoftheDucks) October 18, 2016
Incredible generosity & forward thinking by Phil/Penny for @uoregon aimed at impacting society thru science & innovation #GoDucks https://t.co/UjXWHtLkvC— Hugh (@HughFullagar) October 18, 2016
#UOregon launches $1 billion Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact #futureready https://t.co/A2bPVQaRst— Pedro García-Caro (@petruscaro) October 18, 2016
Congrats to UO! Great investment in science and a boost for the Eugene/Springfield economy. #GoDucks https://t.co/hK70EPTdKa— John Tapogna (@tapogna) October 18, 2016
This is fantastic. Penny & Phil Knight donate $500M to the @uoregon for Accelerating Scientific Impact Campus https://t.co/eFniu1DUWY— sean_bartlett (@sean_bartlett) October 19, 2016
Unbelievable gift from Phil and Penny. Exciting times for the @uoregon. #GoDucks #innovation https://t.co/1EPwIDjGvx— Oregon Track & Field (@OregonTF) October 19, 2016
Oregon "won the day" #UOimpact Nike's co-founder gave $500 million to the University of Oregon https://t.co/rdkT9O29bj via @bi_contributors— Kass Sells (@Kass_Sells) October 18, 2016
Billionaire Nike founder Phil Knight is giving $500 million to the University of Oregon for a new science campus https://t.co/kERk0EIUUm pic.twitter.com/kaqCWIVn3F— Forbes (@Forbes) October 18, 2016
Magnum #Philanthropy! #PhilKnight donates $500 Mil to his Alma Mater for a new Science Block! #RoleModel @Nike @uoregon @kate_vinton https://t.co/DKGRNbsRk9— Adithya M Reddy (@AdithyaMarri) October 18, 2016
Thanks, #UnclePhil! @uoregon launches $1B Phil & Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact: https://t.co/EfsxCKdb7F— Richelle (@MrsRichelleRice) October 18, 2016
Happy the U of O has such awesome supporters @Nike @nike @uoregon— Falling Sky Brewing (@FallingSkyBrew) October 18, 2016
The $500M gift to the @uoregon marks the largest donation to a public flagship university in U.S. history. https://t.co/hPNeLGZA39 pic.twitter.com/oBwlKFhJBW— PDXBusinessAlliance (@PDX_BizAlliance) October 18, 2016
Wow! What an incredible legacy Mr and Mrs Knight are leaving! #Kudos and congrats @uoregon https://t.co/ol3PGGke71— Patrick Murphy (@UACoachMurphy) October 18, 2016
$500 million gift to @uoregon comes with high expectations: https://t.co/OW9irsvhfe pic.twitter.com/yPgCxpkFbO— Matthew Kish (@matthewkish) October 18, 2016
Knight gift will advance science and boost the Eugene/Springfield economy. More here on #UOImpact pic.twitter.com/2yNK2hfVI6— John Tapogna (@tapogna) October 18, 2016