First published in Around the O on November 18, 2020.
The University of Oregon will celebrate a major milestone in the history of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact next month with the official opening of its first state-of-the-art building.
The virtual grand opening celebration will be streamed at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2. The event is open to the public.
“This marks a transformational moment in our university’s 144-year history,” said Michael H. Schill, UO president and professor of law. “The Knight Campus builds upon our proud history of exceptional basic science and immediately broadens and deepens our impact to encompass applied science and engineering. The generosity and inspiration of the Knights allows the University of Oregon to leverage the brilliance, creativity and accomplishments of our researchers and faculty in ways that previous generations of Oregonians could only have dreamt of. The Knight Campus puts the world on notice: The University of Oregon is once again changing the game in terms of the way that research and science can serve students and society.”
The virtual grand opening celebration will showcase the new building and highlight Knight Campus faculty members, staff and students, as well as UO senior leaders and partners from around the country.
They will illustrate how the collaborative effort is tackling some of society’s toughest challenges while also shaping the scientists of tomorrow and transforming the local and regional economy. Work to date includes a focus on spinal injuries, strokes, macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
As part of the celebration, six simultaneous breakout discussions will illustrate how the research, training, culture and entrepreneurship happening within the Knight Campus is working to transform the institution, community and state.
Launched in 2016 with a $500 million lead gift from the Knights — the largest ever to a public flagship university — and augmented with $70 million in state bonds and additional philanthropy, the mission of the Knight Campus is to accelerate the cycle of translating scientific discoveries into innovations that improve quality of life for those in Oregon and beyond.
The 160,000-square-foot first building connects to existing UO science facilities with a sky bridge over Franklin Boulevard. The bridge also symbolizes the partnerships between the Knight Campus and strengths from around the UO in areas such as business, communications and the sciences.
“The Knight Campus serves as a hub for new partnerships, inspiring discovery and innovation across campus, the region and the country,” said Robert Guldberg, vice president and Robert and Leona DeArmond Executive Director. “We’re creating an ecosystem of collaboration, supporting diverse perspectives dedicated to the pursuit of breakthroughs that improve people’s lives.”
The best-in-class facility is specifically designed to encourage a team-based, interactive approach to research. The building itself is designed to dramatically reduce the time it takes for discoveries to enter the market, where they can improve lives as new procedures, medical devices or treatments. It combines under one roof labs, classrooms, an innovation center and cutting-edge core facilities.
The high-octane collaborative approach is already fueling success. Faculty members recruited from around the world have launched three start-up companies, moving new technologies into the marketplace.
The campus is moving into graduate programming in bioengineering. The Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program, which offers an accelerated master’s degree, places 90 percent of its graduates into careers within three months of graduation.
Such a nimble approach to research, education and commercialization transforms the pursuit of knowledge and discovery, Guldberg said.
“The catalytic potential of this ambitious effort is inspiring,” he said. “The Knight Campus powers us to new heights while creating opportunities for students and faculty that will leave an indelible imprint on the community, state and, ultimately, the world.”
—By Jim Murez, University Communications