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$100 million donation boosts OHSU Challenge drive

The odds of Oregon Health & Science University meeting its billion dollar match for the Knight Cancer Institute improved significantly Monday when the institute announced a new $100 million anonymous donation.

Last year Nike co-found Phil Knight announced he would give the cancer institute $500 million if the institute raised $500 million on its own. If OHSU failed to raise its half of the money by February 2016, Knight would be off the hook for his promised $500 million. The Knight matching grant is believed to be the single largest grant of its kind in U.S. history.

The new donation brings OHSU’s total for the match to $418 million. Two hundred million of the total comes in the form of a state of Oregon promise of taxpayer funding for bonds to finance two new OHSU buildings.

The new OHSU gift is not contingent on OHSU meeting the match, according to OHSU Foundation spokeswoman Shirley Skidmore. Should OHSU fail to raise the final $82 million, it still gets to keep the $100 million. A handful of gifts made toward the matching grant are contingent on the match being made, Skidmore says, but not this one.

“This is a pledge regardless of whether we hit the $500 million goal or not,” Skidmore says.

Skidmore says that the new donor wishes to remain unnamed, but that it is not Phil Knight anonymously ensuring his match gets met. The new pledge is one of more than 5,800 made toward the campaign, and a momentum builder, according to OHSU officials.

“Seventy plus million is still a lot to raise, but we’re feeling very optimistic after a gift of this size,” Skidmore says.