Oxford University Announce Largest Gift In 900 Years

Unprecedented endowment to Oxford University to fund the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities

The University of Oxford have today announced an occurrence described by the Chancellor as ‘rarer even than 30th February’ (which apparently did come to pass in Sweden, 1712) – the most generous gift for Humanities students in the University’s 900-year history. An unprecedented endowment in perpetuity to the value of more than £26 million has enabled the University to establish The Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities, funding 15 scholarships a year – a figure that will ultimately grow to at least 35.

In addition to funding the scholarships themselves, the gift will also endow in perpetuity the salary of a full-time Ertegun Senior Scholar in Residence who will provide mentorship for the Ertegun Scholars, and a Programme of lectures, seminars, concerts and other activities at Ertegun House.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University spoke of how the gift by Mica Ertegun was spectacular not only for its size, but also ‘in its timing; ‘because the hard truth is that funding for graduate studies is now one of the biggest challenges facing research-intensive universities like Oxford’. ‘The best research students from around the world will increasingly go elsewhere unless we in oxford, and more broadly in the UK, are competitive in the global market’

‘The Ertegun scholarships can be a beacon and a model for the future. They will take a worthy place alongside Oxford’s other flagship programmes, such as the Rhodes and the Clarendon Scholarships’

Melvin Bragg celebrate the scholarship programme for championing the Humanities, which are  ‘every bit as important as the Sciences’, and perhaps even ‘dig deeper’, ‘excavating the interiority of the mind’.

Humanities ‘bring us a larger awareness of what it is to be fully human’: they ‘throw out nets of imagination to haul in glittering catches of intellectual, artistic, and philosophical training that benefit us all’; ‘they layer the present with new meanings, and show us how much more there is to life than how we live now’.

Mica Ertegun, the Romanian-born widow of famed Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, said: ‘For Ahmet and for me, one of the great joys of life has been the study of history, music, languages, literature, art and archaeology.’

‘In these times, when there is so much strife in the world, I believe it is tremendously important to support those things that endure across time, that bind people together from every culture, and that enrich the capacity of human beings to understand one another and make the world a more humane place.’

‘My dream is that, one day, Ertegun Scholars will be leaders in every field – as historians and philosophers, as archaeologists and literary scholars, as writers and composers, as statesmen and theologians.’

Photo of Melvin Bragg /Words Thomas Keane ©ArtLyst 2012

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