Nike Chairman Passes on Oregon Board Consideration - Higher Education
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Nike Chairman Passes on Oregon Board Consideration

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by Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — Nike Inc. co-founder Phil Knight has asked Gov. John Kitzhaber not to consider him for a spot on a new governing board for the University of Oregon.

Knight was one of nearly 50 people recommended by UO President Michael Gottfredson for the 11- to 15-member board.

Knight’s assistant, Lisa McKillips, said in a letter dated Aug. 9 that the Nike chairman was honored to be included but would like to have his name withdrawn from consideration.

“He will continue to support the university in a variety of other ways, and looks forward to working with the governor, the new board, and the university community,” McKillips wrote.

Two other prominent officials also withdrew their names: Dave Frohnmayer, a former attorney general and UO president, and Ann Aiken, a federal district judge based in Eugene. Frohnmayer said he did not wish to be considered, and Aiken said judicial ethics rules prohibited her from accepting a government appointment.

Kitzhaber’s office released the letters in response to a request by The Associated Press.

Knight has given millions to the university’s athletic and academic programs, and his cash has been instrumental in powering Oregon football to national prominence.

State lawmakers voted this year to give UO, along with Portland State University and Oregon State University, more independence from the State Board of Higher Education.

The independent boards will have authority to hire and fire presidents, set tuition and fees and oversee the university’s operations. The universities will continue to coordinate their legislative lobbying efforts and budget requests, and they’re still working out how to share centralized services like accounting and payroll.

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