Indebted former students’ record Oxbridge donations

Indebted former students’ record Oxbridge donations

News (UK)

Oxford and Cambridge universities have received the largest donations in their histories: a total of £55m, from two former students.

Michael Moritz has donated £25m to Christ Church College, Oxford and Ros Edwards has given £30m to New Hall, Cambridge. Both universities are using Ivy League fundraising techniques to build up endowments. Cambridge aims to raise £1bn by 2012 and Oxford £1.25bn.

Moritz read Modern History at Christ Church in the 1970s and is now a venture caplitalist in the US. “The University’s new fundraising campaign was the stimulus for our gift but we are also eager to help the University and colleges improve the stewardship of their endowments,” Moritz said of the gift made by him and his wife.

Ros Edwards, at New Hall in the 1980s, is on the Campaign Board of Cambridge University’s 800th Anniversary Campaign; her gift will make a significant contribution. Her fortune was made from the sale of her software company, and New Hall, which has been waiting to be named after an endower since it was founded in 1954 by Dame Rosemary Murray, will now be named Murray Edwards College.

In both cases philanthropy is not just reflective of, but is an active and very visible part of the modernisation of the universities, typified by the integration of colleges into the university and efforts to fund students from none traditional Oxbridge backgrounds.

Under the terms of Moritz’s gift Christ Church will transfer £75m of its existing endowment into the centralised Oxford University Asset Management fund, its stake in the pool will rise to over £100m. Ann Lonsdale, President of New Hall, responded to Edwards’ donation saying: “We were set up to provide the best education to able women from all backgrounds. All our students are special – but they may not be rich. Now we can allocate further financial help where it is needed and build on our teaching strengths.”

Both donors acknowledge how important the university has been to them and how important it is to safeguard it for the future. Moritz credited his college, in The Times, with “giving him the compass of his life.” Edwards added “Britain is a value added country – we live by our brains” and both donors will help future students in the UK do just that.

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