What Happens When a Big Donor Disagrees with a University Decision?

What happens when a big donor disagrees with a university decision?

Reported by Inside Higher Ed, Joshua Hunt’s latest book, University of Nike: How Corporate Cash Bought American Higher Education looks at Nike’s founder Phil Knight and his precarious relationship with The University of Oregon, as their top donor.

The book details how Knight’s generous philanthropy granted him exceptional power over the university’s athletic department. And how in 2000, when the university joined a consortium pushing for better working conditions in Nike factories within developing countries, Knight withheld a $30 million-dollar gift.

The takeaway? While many institutions are looking for creative funding solutions to continue their mission, there can be tenuous political realities that occur in the process, with certain academic decisions having a real impact on donor funding.

May you continue to fight the good enrollment growth fight at your institution today, and we’ll see you again tomorrow.

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Eric Olsen

Eric brings more than a decade of award-winning creative brand development, marketing analytics and higher education experience to Helix Education. Eric is a graduate of Bradley University and earned his MBA at Lewis University.