At a time of so much uncertainty, anxiety and strain, it is a real pleasure to be able to impart some unqualified good news.
This week I signed a gift agreement with the Reuben family, who are donating £80 million to the University for the benefit of Parks College and student scholarships. The press release is available on the University website.
This is an extraordinarily generous gift, one of the largest we have ever received. It will have a transformative impact on the lives of generations of students and researchers to come.
Of the £80 million gift, £9 million will endow the existing undergraduate Reuben Scholarship Programme, and £71 million will go to the core endowment of Parks College with £15 million ring-fenced for scholarships for graduate students. Subject to the approval of Congregation, the college will be renamed Reuben College in recognition of this gift.
The Reuben family are well known to us, as they have been funding undergraduate scholarships since 2012, and have recently made generous donations of healthcare equipment to hospitals around the country, including the John Radcliffe.
In the recent Strategic Plan we outlined the ambition to create at least one new graduate college in order to accommodate the growing demand for graduate places without overwhelming our existing colleges. We established Parks College as a graduate society in 2019, appointed Professor Lionel Tarassenko as the first President, and since then Fellows have been recruited, and plans laid for the rejuvenation of the Radcliffe Science Library and surrounding buildings. The building project also creates a new Museums Collections Teaching and Research Centre.
The college plans to admit its first cohort of graduate students in 2021 when we anticipate heavy demand for places post pandemic. The College Fellowship is committed to forging a culture of innovation and enterprise in which a strong commitment to diversity, sustainability and public engagement will cut across all interdisciplinary activities. The three initial research themes of Reuben College are: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; Environmental Change, and Cellular Life.
I would like to thank the many people who have made this gift possible, first and foremost, the Reuben family and the Director of the Reuben Foundation, Mr Richard Stone. I would also like to thank Ms Liesl Elder, our Chief Development Officer, as well as Professor Tarassenko and the first 29 Official Fellows of our newest college.
This wonderful gift, especially at this time, is a powerful vote of confidence in Oxford, a powerful vote of confidence in the power of research to solve societal problem, and above all, a powerful vote of confidence in the future.