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EUGENE, OR–The ongoing eight-figure expansion of Autzen Stadium should be completed without cutbacks now that NIKE founder Phil Knight is back in a giving mood, the University of Oregon announced this week. Also this week, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law a bill will provide half the cost for a needed $15.2-million expansion of the university’s School of Music building.

After donating some $50 million to the UofO in the years following rise to riches, Knight halted the gifts to his alma mater 18 months ago following its alignment with the Workers Rights Consortium, an organization that monitors workers rights in overseas apparel manufacturing facilities. As a result, the University has scaled back or not begun some portions of the Autzen Stadium expansion, and inflation has increased the ultimate cost of the project from $80 million to $85 million.

With Knight’s renewed support, the size of which is not being disclosed, the university will be able to complete the project as planned, including the addition of some 12,000 new seats which, had he never ceased his support, would have been completed earlier this year. Construction now will begin after the Civil War contest against Oregon State University at Autzen on Dec. 1–the final game of the regular season. The project is slated for completion in summer 2002.

In 1996, Knight gave the largest single private gift the university has ever seen when it put up $25 million to help fund the William W. Knight Law Center and create an endowment fund to recruit and retain top faculty. He also provided major funding for the Knight Library expansion and renovation. Phil Knight competed for legendary UofO track coach Bill Bowerman before graduating in 1959. He then partnered with Bowerman to found the firm that would become Nike.

Also this week, Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 5525, which authorizes the sale of $7.6 million in bonds to finance additions and renovations to the 86-year-old UofO music school building. The university now needs to raise $7.6 million in private gifts before the end of the current biennium to claim the state share of the cost. To date, it has raised $700,000.

A major part of the plan is the Intermedia Performance Hall, a 250-seat, 3,600-square-foot addition to the east side of the music building. Other components of the expansion project include an academic wing on the north side of the current building with a new rehearsal room, additional classrooms, more faculty offices and double the number of practice rooms. Also planned is a “hearth” area for students, faculty and patrons to relax and enjoy refreshments before or after performances.

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