By Luke Payne
A Freedom of Information request submitted by Palatinate has revealed the names of individuals who have generously donated more than one million pounds to the University since 2015.
Mark J. Hillery, a Collingwood alumnus and hedge fund manager, has donated almost £7m to Durham University since 2015. Hillery directs his large donations exclusively to Collingwood College. He has personally funded a 200-seater arts centre, a gym extension, a yoga/pilates studio, an enlarged junior common room, and a bar conservatory.
Food wholesale boss Charles Wilson pledged £6m towards local scholarships, Durham Business School, and The Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience in October 2019. Wilson is a Grey college alumnus and studied Geography between 1983 and 1986 at Durham.
Former Chief Product Officer of Netflix, Dr Neil Hunt, donated £2.7m to Durham in 2019. Dr Hunt’s gift was used to establish the ‘Hunt Programme’ which provides targeted scholarships, bursaries, and internship support across the Department of Computer Science and Collingwood College.
£2.66m was left by the estate of the late Geoffrey Argent FREng, an eminent electrical engineer and Senior Partner with Newcastle based engineering consultancy Merz and McLellan. A Fellow of the Academy of Engineering, his donation was directed towards capital projects.
Philanthropist and businessman Irvine Laidlaw, once believed to be Scotland’s second-richest person, has donated £1.5m to Durham University through his undergraduate scholarship scheme. In 2006, he announced he would hand out his fortune over the next few decades to help society’s most disadvantaged people.
£1.4m was left by the estate of the late Dr Anthony Ian Doyle who played a central part in the development of the University library, especially its special collections, throughout his career there. He was also a very active participant in the University and city life more broadly.
Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Durham University, said: “Durham has a thriving global alumni community which plays an important role in supporting the University as ambassadors, through volunteering and providing career opportunities, and through philanthropic giving.
“We are immensely grateful for the generous and increasing levels of financial support we receive from alumni, including those who remember the University in their legacy giving. This reflects well on the experience they enjoyed as students of the University and the lifelong levels of affection and engagement our alumni and benefactors have with us.
“It also shows that our donors have a shared belief in our sharpening mission and values, as we work hard to increase the diversity of the University community, provide greater opportunities for students from under-represented backgrounds, and develop first-class University facilities for the benefit of the University and wider community.”
Andy Harston, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Durham University, said: “In the first phase of our Durham Inspired campaign, we have already received over £43m in pledges from alumni, philanthropists, and charitable organisations around the world.
“Supported by our Campaign Board — made up of committed alumni — we have seen record levels of both individual giving and global philanthropy, particularly from the United States where our efforts are supported energetically by our Dunelm USA trustees and volunteers.
“Around 45 per cent of donations from the Campaign thus far have gone directly into student scholarship support, 45 per cent has enabled the pursuit of pioneering research — including vital PhD studentships — and the remainder has helped to provide exceptional facilities for our students, staff, alumni, and the wider community.
“We hope to continue and expand this trend of attracting major, transformational donations to ensure Durham remains world-class in everything it does. We also hope to widen giving opportunities across our student, parent, and alumni communities to ensure friends of the University are able to make a meaningful contribution to the areas of the University about which they feel most passionate.”
Image: Maddie Flisher