First class of the Knight-Hennesy Scholars Program at Stanford starts in 2018

By April Bamburg | Apr 6, 2016

STANFORD – Some law students at Stanford University will have a unique opportunity starting in the fall of 2018 when the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program’s first class officially begins.

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program is a scholarship program that will admit 100 students each year. Selected students seeking their master’s or doctoral degrees – including their juris doctorates – will have been nominated by their undergraduate universities, not just for their academic scholarship, but their leadership skills and commitment to community. Participants will get funding for up to three years to study; those who are pursuing Ph.D. and medical degrees may receive funding for more than three years.

The Knight-Hennesy Scholars Program is named for Nike Inc. co-founder Phil Knight, who graduated from Stanford University in 1962 with a Master of Business Administration, and outgoing university President John L. Hennessy. After he leaves his current role as Stanford University’s president, Hennesy will be the first director of the program.

“I think President Hennessy has been thinking about what comes next for him for some time,” Kate Chesley, associate director of communications at Stanford University, told the Northern California Record.

The Knight-Hennesy Scholars Program is a funded endowment of $750 million, including $400 million from Knight, and $100 million from Robert King, a graduate of the MBA program in 1960, and his wife, Dorothy King. Donors have pledged more than 90 percent of the endowment goal in order to support the program. Funding from Robert and Dorothy King will be dedicated to help students from regions that are not as economically developed and to support the King Global Leadership Program, which all students will be required to complete.

At least 80 percent of funding is planned to fully fund scholars’ graduate education and living expenses. It is the largest single increase in student financial aid in the university’s 125-year history, according to the official announcement.

On campus, the forthcoming Denning House will be the center of the program, located in the center of the campus. The scholarship offices will be there, and Knight-Hennesy scholars will have space there to gather, Chesley said. 

“Steven Denning, chair of Stanford’s board of trustees, and his wife, Roberta, have provided a gift of $50 million to construct Denning House,” she said.

Knight-Hennesy Scholars will live on campus and be integrated with the rest of Stanford’s graduate students, Chesley said. Currently, there are more than 9,000 graduate students enrolled in seven different graduate schools.

Stanford University has long been known as one of the most prestigious research universities in the country. This new program is expected to help the university to continue to serve students at the highest levels possible.

“I think (the Knight-Hennesy Scholars Program) helps the institution better meet the mission set forth by its founders in 1885," Chesley said. "The Founding Grant states the university’s objective is 'to quality its students for personal success, and direct usefulness in life' and its purpose 'to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.' The Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program is very much in keeping with those objectives. The hope is that the world’s best and brightest students will come to Stanford with the long-term objective of solving some of the world’s most intractable problems – solutions that will have a positive impact on humanity, as Leland and Jane Stanford wished.”

Information on the Knight-Hennesy Scholars Program is available at

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