University of Oxford to Establish New School of Government

A major new School of Government is under formal consideration at the University of Oxford. The £100 million-plus initiative would be the result of one of the most generous philanthropic gifts in the University’s 900-year history. Until now, schools specialising in government and public policy have been found largely in the United States.

As proposed, a multi-year donation of £75 million will be made by Leonard Blavatnik, an American industrialist and philanthropist. This gift will help fund more than 40 academic posts and a purpose-built home for the School on the University’s new Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. Additional funding will come from the University. Mr Blavatnik has also indicated the possibility of increasing his benefaction up to £100 million over time.

The 21st century is already presenting new challenges to governments and societies around the world. These challenges require a broader and more inclusive approach than in the past. Disciplines such as the sciences, law and medicine need to be brought to bear as often as traditional studies such as politics, social sciences and economics.

It is anticipated that the new School will welcome its first students in 2012, offering a one-year Master’s degree. A global search for the Dean for the School, and detailed discussions with potential architects for the new building should start in the near future.

Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: ‘The creation of the School would represent an immensely exciting milestone for Oxford. For centuries the University has made a uniquely varied contribution to government and public policy around the world. The prospect now of being able to bring together under one roof, both this rich tradition, and new and exciting strands of thinking, represents the culmination of a long journey and a new beginning for Oxford.’

Commenting on the donation by Mr Blavatnik, the Vice-Chancellor said: ‘This is a visionary act of philanthropy. It is a major vote of confidence in Oxford with the potential to transform how we and the rest of the world approach government and public policy issues.’

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Notes for Editors:

*About the donor

Len Blavatnik is a major American industrialist and philanthropist with a close engagement with numerous educational projects in Europe and the United States. He is a U.S. citizen, having emigrated from Russia in 1978. Following study in Moscow, he received his Master’s degree in Computer Science from Columbia University (1981) and his MBA from Harvard Business School (1989).

Mr Blavatnik is the founder and Chairman of Access Industries, a privately held U.S. industrial group. Incorporated in 1986, Access Industries is today an international industrial concern with strategic investments in the United States, Europe and South America, focused in three sectors: natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, and real estate.

Mr Blavatnik is a member of the Advisory Board of the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge; a former member of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Dean’s Advisors at Harvard Business School; and a member of the Management Council at Tel Aviv University. His strong interest in scientific research and innovation has recently been recognised with appointment to membership of the President’s Council of the New York Academy of Sciences.

*Oxford University’s existing strengths in public policy

Oxford University has always had and continues to have a huge influence on government and public policy, both nationally and internationally. More than 30 world leaders and 25 British Prime Ministers studied at Oxford. Oxford alumni throughout the world occupy the top jobs in government, law, management, and fields that promote civil society.

For more than a century Oxford has been expanding its research and teaching in government and public policy: examples include the establishment of the Gladstone Chair at All Souls, which conducts research into executive government and the politics of public services; and the founding of Nuffield College, a graduate college specialising in the social sciences, particularly economics, politics, and sociology.

At undergraduate level, since 1920 Oxford has been offering PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics), a course widely regarded as excellent preparation for a career in government and public policy as well as a range of other careers.

Over the past 20 years Oxford has made a key contribution to Britain’s growing reputation for innovation and excellence in domestic and international policy, both through the training of leading officials and the research, and engagement in policy, of its top academics.

The School of Government is to be anchored across humanities; medical sciences; social sciences; and mathematical, physical and life sciences. Oxford has world-leading scientists, social scientists, philosophers and historians engaged in these areas.

*Oxford Thinking, the Campaign for the University of Oxford

This generous gift contributes to the Campaign for the University of Oxford, one of the largest campaigns in the world. The Campaign is aiming to raise more than £1.25 billion in order to transform the University for many generations to come. The theme of the Campaign is Oxford Thinking, and has three strategic priorities based on the academic priorities of the collegiate University. These are grouped into three main areas which have equal importance: supporting students; supporting academic posts and programmes (both existing and new); supporting buildings and infrastructure. See