Recognising your gift
The University of Oxford would not exist without the generosity and
vision of its benefactors. Over the centuries, philanthropic gifts have
supported our students, endowed our scholars and provided our
buildings. This tradition maintains Oxford as a world-class university,
and invests in our innovative future. It is a tradition which continues
These are some of the recognitions the University is proud to offer its supporters.
The University is delighted to explore ways in which it can recognise its benefactors. These may include naming opportunities on buildings, schools, libraries, institutes, chairs, posts, scholarships, plaques and rolls of honour where appropriate. The Ashmolean Museum and Bodleian Library were both named in honour of individuals whose generosity lives on. Some benefactors may wish their philanthropy to be anonymous, or may choose to honour a relative or eminent figure.
The Vice-Chancellor’s Circle
The Vice-Chancellor’s Circle was launched in 2009 to recognise those individual, foundation and corporate benefactors who have provided generous support to the collegiate University. In addition to receiving regular communications from the Vice-Chancellor and other senior officers, members will be invited to special meetings of the Vice-Chancellor’s Circle. These occasions will showcase the breadth of intellectual talent at Oxford and the significant contribution to society of alumni and friends. The Circle will engage members in the diverse, ever-vibrant life and work of the collegiate University.
The Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors
For substantial benefactions, the Chancellor may invite the University and the Colleges' most significant supporters to become members of the prestigious Court of Benefactors. The Court meets each autumn in Oxford. This provides an opportunity for benefactors to engage with the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Heads of Colleges and senior academics, and to meet with other members of the Court, and to gain a greater understanding of the life and work of the University and the Colleges.
A member of the Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors may have their
generosity to the Collegiate University honoured by the engraving of
their name in the Clarendon Arch, near the entrance of the historic
Bodleian Library. Names already inscribed include such historic
benefactors to Oxford as Sir Thomas Bodley, Queen Elizabeth I, John
Radcliffe, King Henry VIII, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, Queen Elizabeth
II, and Cecil Rhodes.
The Sheldon Medal
Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton presents Lord and Lady Sainsbury of Preston Candover with the Sheldon Medal at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, on 22 November 2010.
The highest honour the University of Oxford can bestow is the Sheldon Medal, reserved for an individual benefactor who has made a strategic difference to the life of the University. The Medal is named after one of Oxford’s early benefactors, Gilbert Sheldon, who graduated from Oxford in 1620. It may only be awarded to one person each year, and is restricted to members of the Chancellor’s Court of Benefactors. The presentation of the Medal is made by the Chancellor in Oxford’s historic Sheldonian Theatre.
Recipients of the Sheldon Medal since its inception in 2002 include the late Lord Wolfson, FBA, Chairman of the Wolfson Foundation; Mr Wafic Rida Saïd; the late Dr James Martin; Mr Michael Moritz and Ms Harriet Heyman, and Lord and Lady Sainsbury of Preston Candover.
Oxford enjoys ongoing relationships with its benefactors, whose
continuing involvement in the life of the University may include taking
part in a variety of events. Major benefactors will receive invitations
to project related events, such as special lectures and opening
ceremonies. In the year of their significant benefaction, it is hoped
that donors may join the University at its biggest celebration,
Encaenia. Oxford sporting events include the annual Oxford v Cambridge
Boat Race and Varsity matches.