As her seven-year term as the University of Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor comes to an end, Professor Dame Louise Richardson reflects on the substantial difference philanthropy makes to the life and work of the University.
‘We often think of philanthropy as something new that’s been imposed on us or as a necessary evil occasioned by the times, but nothing could be further from the truth,’ says Professor Dame Louise Richardson. ‘One has only to look around these fabulous buildings – the Clarendon Building, the Divinity School, so many of the colleges – they were all built because of generous donors and philanthropists. Philanthropy is in our blood.’
Reflecting on her involvement in philanthropy over the past seven years, Professor Richardson is sanguine. ‘I enjoy it immensely,’ she says. ‘I think it’s a huge amount of fun. I really enjoy meeting philanthropists and trying to persuade them of the importance and enduring value of what we do.’ With this in mind, her advice for Oxford’s next Vice-Chancellor, Professor Irene Tracey, is not entirely surprising: ‘Do not see philanthropy as a chore, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of this role.’
You can read more about how philanthropy has impacted the work at the University of Oxford, in the Vice-Chancellor’s full report below.