$5 million gift from Papé family, their greatest to-date, will step up pace of innovation in the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.
This article first appeared in Around the O on December 7, 2023.
$5 million gift from Papé family, their greatest to-date, will step up pace of innovation in the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact
Joining Forces: The Papés—longtime icons of Oregon industry—are investing in the UO’s bold enterprise for applied science and engineering made possible by Penny and Phil Knight, BBA ’59
Open for Business: The Papé Family Innovation Center will foster biotech startups launched in Oregon
Construction Plans: Second phase of Knight Campus will double the impact of the Papé Family Innovation Center
“We’re immensely grateful to the Papés for their investment in these incredible new innovation facilities. Given all they’ve done for economic development in Eugene—and throughout Oregon and the Northwest—it’s a fitting gift. By speeding up the innovation cycle, the Papés are supporting one of the major pillars of the Knight Campus, and helping to drive the Oregon economy.”
—Robert Guldberg, PhD
Vice President and Robert and Leona DeArmond Executive Director of the Knight Campus
Bulldozers to Biotech
For generations, the Papé family has provided the heavy machinery for Oregon industry. Their goal with this recent $5 million gift to the Knight Campus is to inspire more donors to invest in the best-in-class research center—and help build Oregon’s high-tech industries.
Penny and Phil Knight made lead gifts to support the campus, which opened its first building in December 2020. The Papé gift will support the Papé Family Innovation Center, facilities designed specifically for translating academic research into societal impact—surgical devices, medical therapies, and targeted treatments for disease, to name a few examples.
Alumni Susie Papé and her late husband Randy made their first gift of $1,000 to the Lundquist College of Business in 1972, the year they both graduated from the university. Since then, they’ve given again to business, including the Randall C. Papé Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, along with athletics, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the Ford Alumni Center, and other areas. This latest contribution marks their largest single gift—their most generous act of philanthropy for any organization.
Susie and her sons Ryan, BS ’97 (business administration) and Jordan, MBA ’06, were inspired to make their recent gift to the Knight Campus because it unites business and science and bridges different academic disciplines. They were also motivated by the many ways the Knight Campus will boost Oregon’s economy and benefits peoples’ lives in the process.
“My father attended the UO, then Randy and I, then our children and their wives, Jennifer Papé and Keri Papé. We’re so pleased that the university is taking bold steps toward a bright future. Other people are noticing, including faculty members who want to be here, students who want to attend, and donors who want to give. They all want to be a part of it.”
Board chair of The Papé Group Inc.
- Recipient of the UO’s Pioneer Award and Presidential medal (two of the university’s highest honors, awarded to both Susie and her late husband Randy)
- UO Foundation trustee: 2009–2017
- Former president, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Board of Directors
- Former member, leadership committee for the UO’s 2001–08 fundraising campaign
Science Helping Society
Since the Knight Campus opened in 2020, it has provided—as envisioned—a global center for science advancing society.
A trio of Knight Campus researchers, for example, hails from three different continents. An Australian visionary invented a 3D printing technology called melt electrowriting to create material scaffolds for use in research and to address various medical challenges. The North American startup restore3d prints three-dimensional medical devices and implants for surgeons. Penderia, the brainchild of a Malaysian Knight Campus innovator, is creating implantable medical sensors that help optimize patients’ recovery from orthopedic surgery.
These are just a few—of many—initiatives advancing scientific research in ways that benefit the lives of patients. Thanks to the Papé family, the ambitious pace of translating lab discoveries into real world impact is accelerating.
“The opportunity to invest alongside Phil and Penny Knight doesn’t come around every day. Our dad would be proud to support a once-in-a-generation investment that will change the lives of so many. If you’re interested in transformative improvements in human health, this is a great opportunity. The Knight Campus is creating an environment that attracts emerging businesses with tremendous potential to our region.”
—Jordan Papé, MBA ’06
President and CEO of The Papé Group Inc.
The Papé Family Innovation Center
- Making it easier and faster to translate academic research into patents, inventions, startup companies, and collaborations with industry—one of the most cost-effective ways to transform academics into entrepreneurship
- Expanding opportunities for UO students to participate in translational research activities
- Leveraging other points of excellence in the Knight Campus: programs, people, and centers that foster applied research and help develop that important work into applications that help people and benefit society
“The University of Oregon has always been a part of our lives—and our community. It has given us a great education and many great memories, from both athletics and academics. This is a life changing, culture changing moment. We are very fortunate to be in a position where we can participate, give back, and help build out the Knight Campus.”
—Ryan Papé, BS ’97 (business administration)
President of Papé Machinery Agriculture & Turf
Startups, Spinoffs, and Spin-ins
The Papé Family Innovation Center was designed with one purpose: to expedite scientific entrepreneurship. Advancing that mission requires a multipronged approach.
Entrepreneurs will be able to lease wet lab spaces at the center—a necessity for culturing cells or working with chemicals. Such activities provide critical proof-of-principle that a new invention is worthy of significant investment. They also have access to experts from the Lundquist College of Businesses, other areas of the university, and a growing external network of entrepreneurial advisors and mentors.
Startups with groundbreaking ideas often face obstacles related to confidentiality, patents, and intellectual property. Faculty members and students working on projects with diverse funding sources must also manage conflicts of interest appropriately.
The facilities will also foster “spin-ins”—established companies that come to the UO to collaborate, create a satellite outpost, or advance a particular area of the business through research or close proximity to students being trained in the Knight Campus. The ultimate result of these diverse activities will be scientific discoveries that launch or grow businesses, adding jobs and economic development for Oregon.
“They’ve developed a 3D stainless steel ankle. I have several friends who have played football and are close to my age. They can barely walk, and there’s nothing for them because they’re big guys and the plastic ones would break. When I saw that stainless steel ankle, I was so impressed. I tell everybody about that.”
The first of two Papé Family Innovation Center facilities is located in the current Knight Campus building. The second will be part of the next phase of construction. The first offers a pragmatic mix of meeting spaces, wet lab benches, and procedure rooms—precisely what researchers need to translate scientific discoveries into practical applications.
The second facility is in the blueprints for Knight Campus Building 2, a 180,000-square-foot, multi-story bioengineering and applied science research facility located on two acres along Riverfront Research Parkway. Groundbreaking for this second phase of the Knight Campus is scheduled for 2023. The innovation space will offer individual modules that companies can lease, offering flexibility for different kinds of startups.
The roots of the Papé Group can be traced back four generations to 1938, when E.C. Papé acquired his first capital equipment dealership. In 1952, Papé Bros Inc. expanded to serve Roseburg and Coos Bay. The company acquired a Caterpillar dealership in 1956 and, over the years, continued innovating with new equipment and expansions throughout Oregon.
Representing the third generation, Randy Papé became CEO in 1981, forming the Papé Group. He was a University of Oregon Foundation trustee, and served as president during the 1999-2000 fiscal year. As chair of the campaign leadership committee for Campaign Oregon: Transforming Lives, he led an eight-year, record-breaking effort that raised more than $853 million for the university. He passed away in 2008.
Today, the Papé Group Inc. is the leading supplier of construction, logging, material handling, landscaping, trenching, and farm equipment, as well as semitrucks and warehouse products in the western US.
“The Knight Campus is lowering the barriers to entrepreneurship for UO faculty and students, unlocking the creative potential that diverse teams bring to the space. Everything they need is right here. We’re building an innovation culture that will act like a flywheel, building momentum over the next ten years to impact economic development in Oregon, patient care, and even the educational experience of our students. The Papé gift helps make that possible.”