Stanford GSB Debuts $345M Knight Management Center

Friday marked the official grand opening of the Knight Management Center at Stanford Graduate School of Business. The new campus bears the name of Nike founder Phil Knight, who donated $105 million for the facility. According to a press release, Stanford GSB administrators hope it will house the “site for the business school for 75 to 100 years.”

Knight, who earned his Stanford MBA in 1962, credits the Stanford GSB with inspiring him to form a company that eventually became Nike Inc. The sportswear and equipment magnate returned to the school last week to help dedicate the eight-building Knight Management Center, reports.

Construction of the new campus came as a result of 2007 changes in the MBA curriculum that called for smaller class sizes, necessitating smaller and more classrooms, The Stanford Daily reports.  The new curriculum includes “more critical analytical thinking, a global experience requirement, more innovative thinking and more personal leadership development,” wrote GSB Dean Garth Saloner in an email to The Daily.

The new center was also constructed with the goal of earning the United States Green Building Council’s LEED platinum level certification. To qualify for this certification, the facility must consume 45 percent less energy and 80 percent less water than a typical office building, in addition to producing an estimated 12.5 percent of its required energy from photovoltaic cells.

Knight Center Program Director Kathleen Kavanaugh says that green facilities were a priority for educational reasons as well, in hopes that students would carry environmental motivations into their careers.

“The GSB believes that the leaders of business are the people that can make change really happen,” Kavanaugh tells The Daily. “By designing and building this facility with these green aspects in mind, we’re showing that we can design a green facility without compromising on design and functionality.”

Stanford business students interviewed before the dedication ceremony said that Knight’s story has provided inspiration for their own paths.

“Bill Gates and Steve Jobs started two of the world’s most successful companies,” Knight, who rarely speaks in public, told the courtyard packed with students, alumni, faculty and others. “They’re also known as college dropouts. I was the ultimate end of that spectrum. If I had dropped out of college, I’d be a sneaker peddler, not the founder of a company.”


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