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Founders and Benefactors

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Thanks to the remarkable generosity of Phil and Penny Knight and the benefactors recognized below, Knight-Hennessy Scholars has an endowment of $750 million. More than 85 percent of the endowment is directed to funding for scholars.


Philip H. Knight

MBA '62 provided the founding gift to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program. He was excited by the opportunity to partner with Stanford to launch a transformative program and wished to honor John Hennessy’s 16-year tenure as president of Stanford University. Co-founder and Chairman emeritus of Nike, Inc., Knight wrote his business plan for Nike while a graduate student at Stanford. He has since been actively engaged at the university and a generous contributor to its programs.

John L. Hennessy

The 10th president of Stanford University is the academic architect and visionary behind the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program. Building upon the major academic initiatives advanced during his presidency, Hennessy sought to create an enduring and unmatched education program that would have significant impact on global challenges in the 21st century and beyond. Upon stepping down from the presidency, he began serving as the inaugural Shriram Family Director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars. He also currently serves as non-executive chairman of Alphabet. Click here to see John's full bio.

Major Benefactors

Dorothy and Robert King

Robert King, MBA '60, and his wife, Dorothy King, have created the King Endowment for Global Scholars and the King Global Leadership Program, in which all Knight-Hennessy Scholars participate. The Kings, who have welcomed more than 50 of Stanford’s international students into their home over the last 55 years, are also founding donors to the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED), which aims to alleviate global poverty by stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship.

Roberta and Steven Denning

Roberta Denning, '75, MBA '78, and Steven Denning, MBA '78, have made a gift to establish Denning House, which serves as the convening hub for the Knight-Hennessy Scholars. Roberta was chair of Stanford's Arts Advisory Council and the Humanities and Sciences Council, and Steve is the past chair of the Stanford University Board of Trustees. Parents of Stanford graduates Carrie, '08, MA '09, MBA '15 and Robert, MBA '11, the Dennings have provided longstanding volunteer and philanthropic support for programs and priorities across the university.

The following alumni and friends also provided major support to help launch the program. Their gifts provide vital endowment to underwrite financial aid and sustain the program in perpetuity.

  • Anonymous (3)
  • Shawn and Brook Byers
  • Penny and James Coulter
  • Toni Cupal and Michelangelo Volpi
  • Fiona and Stan Druckenmiller
  • Elizabeth and Bruce Dunlevie
  • The Fan Family Charitable Trust
  • Jill and John Freidenrich
  • Cynthia Fry Gunn and John Gunn
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation 
  • Koret Foundation
  • Allison and Howard Lutnick
  • Makena Capital Management
  • Susan and Craig McCaw
  • Deedee and Burt McMurtry
  • Tina and Hamid Moghadam
  • Betty and Gordon Moore
  • Angela Nomellini and Kenneth Olivier
  • Overdeck Family Foundation
  • Ruth Porat and Anthony Paduano
  • Carrie and Greg Penner
  • Tricia and Jeff Raikes
  • Betsy and Sam Reeves
  • Mindy and Jesse Rogers
  • Vijay and Ram Shriram
  • Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang
  • Larry C. K. Yung Family

In addition, a number of current and emeriti University Trustees established the Trustee Endowment Fund for Knight-Hennessy Scholars. Stanford University gratefully recognizes their collective generosity.