Momentum and national attention

February 16, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

The exhilaration of announcing the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact will not soon fade. As many said at the time, it marks a historic and transformative leap for the University of Oregon. Now that we’ve announced the gift, the hard work of turning an idea into reality is just beginning. 

Much has happened behind the scenes over the last few months, and I want to bring you up to speed on some of our early milestones. First and foremost, we’re starting to build the Knight Campus team. Moira Kiltie, associate vice president and chief of staff for the Knight Campus, along with Naomi Crow, our business operations manager, Julie Langenberg, our administrative assistant, and I have moved into offices in Johnson Hall. We’re starting to build a website where we are posting administrative and organizational updates.

We are also very fortunate to partner with teams from around campus. Mike Harwood, associate vice president for campus planning and facilities management, and Darin Dehle, director of design and construction, have been instrumental in our efforts to plan and design the first buildings. Chris Edwards, assistant vice president for strategic initiatives, is already forging relationships with local agencies and businesses to drive the project.

Hans Bernard, assistant vice president for state affairs, and Libby Batlan, senior director of state relations, are working closely with elected officials to seek $100 million in public support for the $1 billion project. Josh McCoy, who is directing the UO’s main fundraising campaign, is also leading Knight Campus development, and Zack Barnett, director of digital communications, is overseeing the communications side.  

Meanwhile, we’re also taking important organizational steps. After much consultation with the president and provost, we have appointed an internal advisory board of talented researchers who will continue to shape the campus in years to come. The committee is charged with providing counsel and making recommendations to the Knight Campus executive director and the UO president on scientific vision and the necessary structures and support for the Knight Campus. The board will act as the leadership committee for academic and administrative procedural matters as we establish the Knight Campus as an academic unit.

You may have seen recently that we announced that an architecture team of Portland's Bora Architects and New York's Ennead Architects will design the Knight Campus. The firms’ focus on sustainable practices and an emphasis on a collaborative design process were among the many reasons we made this difficult selection after a highly competitive process. We also announced Hoffman Construction Company as the construction manager and general contractor after an equally competitive process. It was very encouraging to have prestigious regional and national firms vying for the opportunity of assisting us in bringing our vision to fruition. 

Even as we take the first steps toward making the campus a reality in Eugene, the rest of the country and the world are taking notice of the magnitude of our project. I have had the opportunity to travel across the country meeting with leaders of scientific efforts that relate to our initiative. The purpose of my visits was to learn about the varieties of leadership, organization, financial and physical structures that support large, interdisciplinary scientific endeavors.

The eyes of the scientific community are on the UO. Everyone with whom I met was well aware of the Knights' transformative gift, impressed by its scale and highly congratulatory for the opportunities it provides.

On the buildings side, I witnessed how design can play a key role in collaboration. I am looking forward to working with the Building User Group and the design and construction team to take those elements that clearly work well and get the conceptual drawings moving in the spring.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with large groups of faculty members and look forward to more conversations in the months to come.  

All the best,


Patrick Phillips
Acting Executive Director, Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, Professor of Biology, University of Oregon

Updates from the Acting Executive Director