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Provost Malcolm Grant launches Campaign for UCL in the USA

Publication date: Feb 22, 2006 4:57:18 PM

Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of University College London (UCL), will be launching the Campaign for UCL in the United States at a reception in New York on Thursday 20 th January. The Campaign for UCL - the largest fundraising drive ever launched by a UK university - aims to raise some £300 million ($550 million) over the next decade, to help finance ground-breaking research projects and initiatives across a range of intellectual disciplines.

Founded in 1826, as the third university in England after Oxford and Cambridge , UCL was, from the outset, a radical institution. It was the first UK university to admit students regardless of their religion, race, social background or religion, and provided a model for the foundation of New York University in 1831.

The Campaign for UCL will enable UCL to move closer towards its vision of establishing itself as a truly global university. Major projects to be supported by the Campaign will include:

•  The Spinal Repair Unit - a world-leading centre of expertise at the forefront of the search for a cure for spinal repair injuries;

•  The Ear Institute - a new centre of excellence in central London , working to find a cure for conditions such as tinnitus, afflicting millions of people around the globe;

•  An extensive programme of bursaries, scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships to support students and the next generation of academics.

Elements of the Campaign being highlighted in the US include a proposal to create a Chair of American History in London , to build upon its existing strengths in this academic field, having been the first English university to establish a Chair of American History, in 1930. The holder of the Chair will be expected to provide intellectual leadership for the development of US history, in London , the UK and Europe .

Professor Grant says: "The resources that a successful Campaign would make available would enable UCL to deliver innovation and research with the potential to make a difference to the lives of millions of people. I believe that it will enable UCL, a real British success story, to enjoy the kind of resources to enable us to compete with the world's very best academic institutions."

For the Campaign at UCL to succeed and for UK universities more generally to be better able to raise the levels of philanthropic donation received will require both a far more professional approach to fundraising and a change in public attitudes to university fundraising, says Professor Grant.

"The challenge that we and the rest of the sector in the UK face is in increasing the proportion of overall philanthropic donation that universities receive. Compared to the USA , the higher education sector takes a far smaller share of the country's overall level of philanthropic donation.

"It may be unrealistic to expect UK institutions to build endowments that rival those of the Ivy League universities. However, it is legitimate to seek to match the share of individual donations that goes to higher education in the US , where some 16% of philanthropic donation goes to universities, compared with a figure closer to 2.5% in this country.

"It is sometimes suggested that asking for money is not the British thing to do. This is, frankly, nonsense. Most of our leading universities owe their origins to philanthropy and without the generosity of our founding fathers, UCL would never have seen the light of day back in 1826. But we do face a challenge to change the prevailing culture, and encourage more of our citizens to give to universities in the same way that they do in the US . To do that, we need to develop a culture both of giving and of asking.

"As a nation, I believe also that we have not been good enough at building and maintaining links with our alumni. Alumni are part of the lifeblood of any successful university, contributing knowledge and advice, acting as ambassadors and role models within the wider community. We need to get better at asking for philanthropic support from our alumni, but if the relationship between a university and its alumni is seen as purely a one-way request for funding, then we are not doing our job properly."

Notes for Editors

1. Professor Malcolm Grant is available for media interviews in New York on Thursday 20th January and Friday 21 st January. To arrange interviews or for other enquiries, contact Dominique Fourniol in the UCL media relations office, d.fourniol@ucl.ac.uk , 0044 20 7679 9728.

2. UCL has almost 1,000 students from the US , enjoys study-abroad agreements with 43 US universities and a further 14 reciprocal student exchanges. Some 5,000 UCL alumni are resident in the US .