Thursday, March 10, 2016

Think Tanks Salivate at Nike Leaders' $400 Million Pledge

The head of Nike, Philip Knight, has pledged to give $400 million to Stanford University.  Think Tank Watch hears that think tank fundraisers are drooling at the prospect of such a large money haul.

Here is more:
Philip H. Knight, the co-founder and chairman of Nike Inc., said on Monday that he had pledged to give Stanford University $400 million to recruit graduate students around the globe to address society’s most intractable problems, including poverty and climate change.
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.
These kinds of megagifts to elite universities have their critics, who argue they are more about prestige and ego than academic excellence.
According to the Council for Aid to Education, less than 1 percent of the nation’s colleges received 28.7 percent of all gifts in 2015.

Of course, Knight already gives money to think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, where he sits on the Board of Trustees.  And of course, there is the Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies at Brookings, which was established by a "generous gift" from Philip Knight (as well as a grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership).

But in general colleges and universities get the really big money gifts from millionaires and billionaires, while think tanks are left with the crumbs...

In this article, think tank scholar Elizabeth Baylor, Director for Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress (CAP), analyzes the gift to Stanford.

Should big name philanthropists like Mr. Knight worry about how history will just their gifts?