Durham University has received a record donation of £7.5 million, £2m of which will go towards aiding students from low-income backgrounds.
The donation was given by Charles Wilson, the Chief Executive Officer of food wholesaler Booker and Durham graduate, and Dr Rowena Olegario, a researcher at the University of Oxford and Wilson’s partner.
The gift was announced by The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman William Russell, also an alumnus of the university, who gave a speech during an official regional visit.
It is the largest donation in the history of the university and is reportedly set to go towards a number of causes.
£2 million of the endowment is intended to allow twenty students a year, coming from low-income backgrounds in the North-East of England, to benefit from academic scholarships.
This is part of the university’s aim to attract students based on their academic ability, “regardless of their economic circumstances”, a university press release said.
This record donation will leave an indelible and enabling legacy for the benefit of generations to come
– Professor Stuart Corbridge, Durham University vice chancellor
The donation will not only cover the costs of academic study for the students however, but also provide them with financial assistance to pursue leadership and development opportunities during their time in education.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge expressed how the donation is “hugely welcome” and that “philanthropy is changing the game for students at Durham.”
“This record donation will leave an indelible and enabling legacy for the benefit of generations to come,” he said.
The £2 million endowment includes matched funding from benefactors such as the Ruth and Lionel Jacobson Charitable Trust.
The funds will also be used to launch the Wilson Institute for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship at the Durham Business School and to aid the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR).
In a statement, the university said: “Additional funding for the IHRR will mean more research to help professionals around the world protect, save and recover thousands of vulnerable lives and at-risk communities every year endangered by natural hazards”.
The University’s policy on donations highlights that while a donor has influence over where their money is directed, the donation can be referred to the Donations Advisory Panel if it can be seen to cause a “conflict of interest”.