Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Things have been quite busy but I do need to make mention of Mr. and Mrs. Phil Knight's gift to the UO Athletic Department. On Monday it was announced that the Knight's have pledged a $100M gift to the UO. It is the largest gift ever donated to an Oregon university and is tied for the 2nd largest gift ever to an athletic department in the US.

There are a fair share of people that feel this is an abomination for higher education. I strongly disagree. There is a professor on the UO campus that is famous only because he likes to bitch about college athletics. His name is Jim Earl and he finds it tragic that the academic side of the University does not get proper funding. I feel the same way but instead of chastising private donors I think he should take his fight up to Salem. I have a sneaky hunch he shares a significant amount of political ideology as the Democratic-controlled Oregon Legislature anyways so should be able to handle sitting down with them to actually get some meaningful work done. Instead of telling alumni how to donate their money or ripping on the athletic department Earl should tell the state politicians they are responsible for funding academics.

My suspicion is that Earl has an ego that has to be stoked and being the professor of a subject no one gives two cents about doesn't satisfy said ego. The Knights and all other donors are doing the University a favor by allowing the athletic department to run financially independent. Placing blame on the athletic department for Earl's like-minded (just taking a wild guess on ideology) political hacks' inability to fund higher education is an archaic line of thinking. This should come as no surprise as Earl is a "Medieval Literature expert". Personally, I find it more offensive that my alma mater pays someone a professor's salary to teach three courses. Only one of which is above 100 level to boot!

Now let's get back to the gift from the Knights. I cannot imagine giving any money to the UO (they made me pay out-of-state tuition even after I was married so they have all of the money they will ever get from me) let alone $100M. That is an amazing gift to the school and will allow the athletic department to build a new basketball stadium. Again, people are crying that a new arena is going to be built but it provides revenue streams for the athletic department to remain financially independent. This is very important and deep in his heart Earl knows that it is. The Knights' gift to the UO is a great one and I hope that they know it is appreciated. I could never bring myself to publicly rip an individual for donating millions of dollars even if it was to the Medieval Literature department. It amazes me that some people think it is their place to tell someone how to donate money.

Articles related to the gift itself are here, here, here, and here. Articles and blogs with reaction to the gift can be found here, here, here, and here.

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