Nike Cofounder Phil Knight to Deliver 2014 Graduation Address

Distinguished GSB alumnus will share his experiences at the iconic company with graduating students as they embark on new career paths.

March 26, 2014

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Nike Cofounder and Chairman Phil Knight (MBA ‘62) will address Stanford GSB students during their 2014 graduation ceremony. | REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Nike Cofounder and Chairman Phil Knight, who graduated from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1962 and subsequently transformed an entire industry, will address Stanford GSB students during their 2014 graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 14.

Stanford GSB’s alumni speaker program was inaugurated in 2010 as a means to inspire graduates in their future careers. “Phil’s unique ability to see opportunity where others did not, along with his perseverance and willingness to take risks, enabled him to transform an entire industry,” said Garth Saloner, Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean of Stanford GSB. “Our students seek to follow his example as a change agent after graduation — and Phil has actively supported their ambitions through his ongoing engagement with the school.”

Knight currently serves as chairman of the board of directors of Nike, which he cofounded with track and field coach Bill Bowerman in 1964. Knight originally developed the business plan for the company during an entrepreneurship course he took while in business school.

During a 2009 interview, he said that it was “almost certainly true that if there was no Stanford Graduate School of Business, there would be no Nike.” He also observed that “it was out of [that entrepreneurship course] that I really had the courage and the enthusiasm to start this company that ultimately became Nike.”

After selling running shoes at track events from the back of his car and making sales of $8,000 in the company’s first year, he eventually built Nike into one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes, apparel, and equipment. He served as its president for 25 years.

In 2006, Knight contributed $105 million to help establish Stanford GSB’s new eight-building complex on the Stanford University campus. Named the Knight Management Center in his honor, the LEED-certified complex provides an environment that fosters collaboration both within Stanford GSB and with the rest of the larger university.

“Stanford meant a lot to me, and it’s really my hope other students who come to Stanford have as transformative an experience as I did,” said Knight at the time of the center’s groundbreaking.

By Katie Pandes

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