Forever Front-Runners

A Relentless Pursuit

It started here.

Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. Once home to little more than a cinder track and loads of ambition.

It was on these hallowed grounds that a bold aim to be the best took hold and never let go. Legendary coach Bill Bowerman carefully analyzed data, meticulously recorded times, and shaved ounces off homemade shoes, all in pursuit of speed, health, and success. His work turned runners into champions and the rest of us into athletes.

Then Bowerman partnered with one of his former runners, a kid from Portland named Phil Knight, merging his unique brand of data science and early bioengineering with Knight’s entrepreneurial drive.

A revolution was born.

As co-founders of Nike, Bowerman and Knight transformed the sports landscape. This innovative mentality also elevated our university’s bold resourcefulness to a world stage and challenged every one of us — not just on the track, but in the classroom, the lab, the studio, in real life -- to dream bigger, aim higher and push harder than we ever thought possible.

Today, from the tower at Hayward Field, images of Bowerman and fellow legends Otis Davis, Steve Prefontaine, Raevyn Rogers and Ashton Eaton challenge us still. We respond as Ducks, with determination in our heads and hope in our hearts that one day we’ll be as good in our own field.

That inspiration stretches from the heart of campus to young people around the world, inviting them—challenging them—to come to the University of Oregon, where we aspire to national championships and Nobel Prizes, where you can dream big and prepare for—as Bowerman called them—"the struggles and competitions that lay ahead, far beyond Oregon.”

Our bold resourcefulness has led to generations of front runners, finding new and different successes, spawning interdisciplinary research, creating a global home for bioengineering excellence and societal impact, tackling behavioral health challenges, defining fields such as sports marketing and sports product design and pursuing global excellence in many other fields.

This summer, as we host the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, our university’s message has never been sharper. You don’t come to the University of Oregon to be the best in town. You don’t come to be the best in the state or even in the country.

You come to the University of Oregon to be the best in the world.


The University’s Oregon’s innovative spirit and pursuit of excellence extend across campus, the state and world. Here are some notable examples.

Bold Resourcefulness

yellow light bulb

Resourceful researchers at the University of Oregon have long fostered unique partnerships across academic fields. In fact, our collaborative culture traces its roots to 1959, when faculty members Aaron Novick, Frank Stahl, and George Streisinger formed the Institute of Molecular Biology. A highly integrated ecosystem where physicists, chemists, and biologists worked together to dissect the molecular underpinnings of living organisms, it spawned a philosophy that spread across campus to fields as far-ranging as neuroscience, the humanities, and social and emotional human development, eventually giving rise to more than 20 UO research centers and institutes geared around interdisciplinary collaboration.

george streisinger

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  george streisinger

Accelerating Impact

tire hub

The University of Oregon’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact embodies a new paradigm for scientific inquiry that speeds the process of translating scientific discoveries into solutions that create societal impact. Launched in 2016 with a $500 million gift from Penny and Phil Knight, the state-of-the-art research campus opened its first building in 2020. In 2021, the campus entered the next phase of development, with a second $500 million gift from the Knights. Just six years after launch, the Knight Campus is already attracting top scientists, physicians, and engineers who are translating discoveries into health benefits for all. Over the coming decade, the Knight Campus will train hundreds of postdoctoral scholars and students to become the next generation of engineers and applied scientists.

researcher in lab

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  researcher in lab

Defining the Future

nike shoe

Bill Bowerman met Phil Knight, and the rest, as they say, is history. Or almost. Their past has seeded our region’s present and future, making Oregon the center of the sports and outdoor product industry. Of the more than 800 sports-product related companies in the state, 90 percent are in the greater Portland area, home to such brands as Nike, adidas, Columbia Sportswear, KEEN, Icebreaker, and more. University of Oregon students shape the future of the field through programs such as a first-of-its-kind master of science degree in sports product management and an award-winning master’s program in sports product design.

sports product design class

Sports Product Management

Sports Product Design

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Front-runners in Sports Business

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The University of Oregon is home to the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, the first sports business program in the United States—and the most respected industry proving ground in the world. Top leaders in the industry recognize the program’s track record of producing the best and brightest talent in the sports industry. For more than two decades, the program has helped graduates launch careers with the NBA, the Portland Trail Blazers, ESPN, WME IMG, Nike, the NFL, EA Sports, adidas, and many others. Illustrating the program’s commitment to experiential learning are 15 MBA students who have paid positions as specialists to help bring the WCH Oregon22 to life.

students from the warsaw center

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  students from the warsaw center

Tackling Behavioral and Mental Health


Launched in March 2022 with a gift of more than $425 million, the Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health at the University of Oregon represents a bold new approach to promote the behavioral health and wellness of children and adolescents in Oregon and beyond. Imagine an entirely new occupation aimed at promoting the behavioral health and wellness of children and adolescents. The Ballmer Institute will graduate child behavioral health specialists and bachelor-level professionals who promote the behavioral health and wellness of children and adolescents across identities and abilities, from a variety of family structures and backgrounds, in schools, public health, and other health care settings. They will have a profound impact with a uniquely Oregon approach.

student and teacher in classroom

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  student and teacher in classroom

A New Model in Sport and Wellness Education

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Whether in human performance, sports business, product design, or another field, the University of Oregon has long been a front-runner in the study of sport and wellness. Now, with the Sport and Wellness Initiative, we are delivering a new model of education and scholarship. We are structuring programs, courses, research, and partnerships to answer complex challenges with innovative and applied solutions that benefit all of us, across ages, abilities, and health.

students at usa indoor track trials

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  students at usa indoor track trials