When you’re worth an estimated $26 BILLION and one of the top 50 wealthiest people on the planet, I actually don’t know where I was going with this because in no way, shape or form can I comment or relate to such silly wealth. I paid for my lunch in quarters yesterday.
But I’d imagine 78-year-old Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight can unload millions without any significant impact on his net worth. And that’s exactly what he just did by giving Stanford University $400 MILLION to recruit graduates around the world to address society’s most pressing issues like poverty and climate change.
According to The New York Times,
The gift to the new Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, which is modeled on the Rhodes scholarships, matches one of the largest individual donations ever to a university, the $400 million that John A. Paulson, the hedge fund tycoon, gave to Harvard last year to improve its engineering school. The Stanford project is meant to improve the world.
“This is using education to benefit mankind and I think it really could be transformative,” Mr. Knight said in a phone interview. “I jumped on it right away.”
Knight is a graduate of the Stanford business school and decided that his $105 million donation back in 2006 just wasn’t enough. He also has been uber generous to his undergrad alma-mater Oregon University–donating more than $300 million over the past 20 years. His donation has reportedly secured him a headset in the Oregon football coaches box, which allows him to listen to coaches from his private box.
If you’re confused why someone would donate close to a half billion dollars to a school whose endowment fund is one of the largest in the world ($750 million), you’re not alone.
As The Times points out, some experts agree that this gesture is fueled by ego and can be summed up in one giant pissing contest.
“This is just part of the crazy arms race between the top schools with no connection to reality,” said Malcolm Gladwell, a writer for The New Yorker and the author of “The Tipping Point” who posted scathing Twitter messages last year about Mr. Paulson’s gift to Harvard. “If Stanford cut its endowment in half and gave it to other worthy institutions,” he said, “then the world really would be a better place.”
Ball’s in your court Stanford–cure cancer or world hunger or you’re all failures. No pressure, though.
[h/t The New York Times]