Billionaire makes £150m donation to Oxford University

The gift from the American Stephen Schwarzman is believed to be the largest individual gift made to a British academic institution

Stephen Schwarzman (Photograph: Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy)
Stephen Schwarzman (Photograph: Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy)

The University of Oxford has received a £150m donation from a US private equity billionaire in what is believed to be the largest individual gift made to an academic institution in the UK.

The university said that the donation from Stephen Schwarzman would be used to create a centre named after the donor and dedicated to humanities, including a new institute for ethics in artificial intelligence.

Schwarzman, chief executive of the private equity firm Blackstone, donated $350m to the US university MIT last year to establish the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. He also gave $150m to Yale University in 2015.

Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, said the donation marked a "significant endorsement of the value of humanities in the 21st century".

Schwarzman said the new institute would deepen the university’s engagement with the public.

"For nearly 1,000 years, the study of the humanities at Oxford has been core to western civilisation and scholarship," he said.

"We need to ensure that its insights and principles can be adapted to today’s dynamic world. Oxford’s long-standing global leadership in the humanities uniquely positions it to achieve this important objective."

A £100m gift was made to Cambridge University by the British philanthropists David and Claudia Harding in February.

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