News and analysis
October 24, 2016

Gifts Roundup: U. of Oregon Lands Megagift for Research Center

Charlie Litchfield, University of Oregon

Phil Knight (left) joins University of Oregon President Michael Schill on a campus visit in May. The sportswear mogul is giving the university $500 million for a new science complex.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

University of Oregon

Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, gave $500 million for a new science center the university is creating with a goal of speeding up the process of turning new scientific discoveries into tools, treatments, and developments to improve people’s lives.

The center will be named for the Knights, who have given extensively to the university over the years, including a $100-million donation in 2007. Mr. Knight earned a bachelor’s degree in business at Oregon in 1959 and, with his track coach there, Bill Bowerman, started the sports-gear company that would make him a multibillionaire.

Museum of Science, Boston

Media mogul and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $50 million through his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, to endow the museum’s education division. The unit will be named for the donor’s parents, William and Charlotte Bloomberg.

Mr. Bloomberg, who founded news and financial-information company Bloomberg LP, grew up in the Boston area. He said in a statement that his childhood visits to the museum inspired his interest in science and technology and shaped the way he thinks. "People often remember the first teacher to have a profound impact on their lives," he said. "For me that teacher was the museum."

Rowan University

Jean and Ric Edelman pledged $25 million to expand and preserve the Rowan University Fossil Park, a research site in New Jersey that is rich in fossils from the Cretaceous Period.

The husband-and-wife donors founded Edelman Financial Services, a financial-planning and investment-management firm, in 1987. They are both alumni of Rowan, formerly known as Glassboro State College. Mr. Edelman earned a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1980, and Ms. Edelman graduated in 1981 with a bachelor’s in consumer economics and marketing.

In 2002, the couple gave $1 million to support the university’s planetarium, and in 2006 they funded a program to provide free admission to the facility for elementary-school students.

Carleton College

Wally and Barbara Weitz and their family gave $20 million to endow scholarships and match gifts from other donors for financial aid. Income from the endowment is expected to support approximately 45 students a year.

Mr. Weitz founded Weitz Investment Management and serves as chairman of the Minnesota college’s Board of Trustees. The couple graduated from Carleton in 1970 and their children, Katie, Roger, and Drew, are also alums. The family gave the college $20 million in 2015 for a music and performance space that is scheduled to open next year.

Wake Forest University

Bob McCreary, a businessman and former Wake Forest and professional football player, pledged $15 million to the athletics program.

He graduated from the university in 1961 and has since given nearly $35 million to its athletic department.

University of Chicago Law School

David Rubenstein donated $13 million for the Rubenstein Scholars Program. The money will provide nearly 60 full-tuition scholarships for students in the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022.

The billionaire financier established the program in 2010 and, with this donation, has given it $33 million.

Mr. Rubinstein co-founded private-equity firm the Carlyle Group. He earned a JD degree from the law school in 1973 and currently serves on the university’s Board of Trustees.

To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated throughout the week.

Send an email to Maria Di Mento.