Phil and Penny Knight donate $500 million to University of Oregon

1019-knight-campusEugene, Ore. (KVAL) — “What we’re trying to do is something that nobody’s ever done before,” said Jim Hutchison, Chemistry Chair at the University of Oregon.

The idea was there, but the money was missing — $500 million. So now, the University of Oregon is creating the “Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.”

“They’re going to be doing research and learning at new interfaces that we haven’t actually explored before,” said Hutchison. Things like reversing the effects of brain injury, creating sustainable buildings in case of earthquakes and innovating with robotics.

Patrick Phillips, Acting Executive Director of the Knight Campus said, “We can’t even imagine the great ideas that our students and faculty are going to come up with.”

The focus is on interdisciplinary learning, taking all of these different areas of science — from chemistry to engineering — and mixing them together. “If you only think about what you know, you’re not very inspired you’re not very stretched. By doing interdisciplinary work with someone from a different discipline, they require that you think differently,” said Hutchison. Then — putting those new ideas into action. “Engaging with companies, engaging with the public, learn what they really need, what will really fly in the real world and then focus our research in ways that will help us have the best chance of getting there.”

That means this isn’t just for science majors, it’s not just for students–it’s innovation for everyone. “This is an instance where the rising tide lifts all boats,” said University of Oregon President Michael Schill. “It’s going to really project the University of Oregon into national prominence and we are so grateful.”

Construction is set to begin next year. But that $500 million will be dispersed over the next 10 years. This is a $1 billion project — so the university is working to raise the rest of the money.

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