Nike Inc. Co-Founder Philip Knight has given $400 million to Stanford University to establish a scholarship program that will fully fund 100 high-achieving students each year in their pursuit of graduate degrees at any of Stanford’s seven graduate schools, including Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB). The new Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, announced yesterday, is co-named for Stanford’s outgoing President John L. Hennessy, who will become the program’s inaugural director when he steps down as president later this year.
“John and I dream of a future 20, 30 or 50 years from now, when thousands of graduates—who can think outside the box as skilled problem-solvers—will be working together for a more peaceful, habitable world,” Knight said in a statement. His gift is intended in part to honor the outgoing president’s 16-year tenure leading Stanford, he added, calling Hennessy “one of the great academic leaders of our time.”
Knight-Hennessy Scholars to Rival Rhodes Scholars
Stanford portrayed the new program as a rival to other distinguished scholarship programs such as the Rhodes Scholarship program, incorporating their best aspects but going beyond them “to offer a diverse, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary education that is a hallmark of Stanford.”
“We wanted to create something enduring, that would be unlike anything else currently available to the world’s brightest minds, and that would make the biggest impact possible toward solving global challenges affecting the environment, health, education and human rights,” Hennessy said in a statement.
The program will seek to recruit students from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities who demonstrate leadership and civic commitment. Knight-Hennessy Scholars will receive funding for three years to pursue master’s or doctorate level degrees at any of Stanford’s seven top-ranked graduate and professional schools, including the schools of law; business; medicine; engineering; humanities and sciences; education; and Earth, energy and environmental sciences. Stanford noted that scholars pursuing PhD or MD degrees will have the option to receive funding beyond three years.
Complete admission and curriculum criteria are not yet available, but Stanford has shared that prospective applicants must be nominated by their undergraduate universities and have completed at least three years of their undergraduate education, although they can apply up to four years after they have graduated. The first applications will be accepted in summer 2017, and the first Knight-Hennessy Scholars will be admitted for fall 2018.