20 march 2012

Humanities fellowships created by Old Member, Teaching Fund at Worcester

Dr Conrad Leyser
Dr Conrad Leyser, Lightbody Fellow in History at Worcester College, whose position was secured by an Old Member and the Teaching Fund.

Worcester College has secured three fellowships in the humanities, thanks to a combination of generosity by an Old Member and the Teaching Fund.

The Teaching Fund has been set up by the University to match gifts to endow key teaching posts in the social sciences. The three fellowships at Worcester are in economics, history and philosophy. Dr Conrad Leyser holds the Lightbody Fellowship in History.

'Funding for the Humanities is under threat right across the world, from Poland to the Pacific Rim. There is a debate to be won here about the enduring value of teaching and research in Humanities disciplines, even or especially during times of austerity—and in the meantime, there is a crisis of support,' he said.

'The Oxford Teaching Fund offers a structural solution to this crisis, in harnessing the resources of the University to the generosity of donors. At Worcester College, Barrie and Deedee Wigmore have taken up the challenge and opportunity of the Teaching Fund with aplomb in funding three posts in the Humanities; I am honoured to hold one of these, in Late Antique and Early Medieval History.'

[Barrie Wigmore] has ensured that his old College will be able to go on enriching the lives and education of future generations.

Professor Jonathan Bate, Provost of Worcester College

College Provost Professor Jonathan Bate also spoke warmly of the Wigmores' benefaction.

'The tutorial system is the jewel in Oxford’s educational crown. Unless we can sustain it, the Colleges might as well pack up and go home – we would become like any other university, instead of remaining a unique environment for the nurturing of talented students, whatever their background, in the arts of reason and imagination, invention and expression,' he said.

'Barrie Wigmore remembers well what Oxford did for him: through the extraordinary generosity of the Barrie and Deedee Wigmore Foundation in joining together with the Teaching Fund to endow no fewer than three tutorial fellowships in perpetuity at Worcester, he has ensured that his old College will be able to go on enriching the lives and education of future generations.'

Dr Leyser added: 'The Wigmore’s Oxford story — the transformative effect studying at Oxford had on their lives — is an inspiring one. As a teacher, I hope to be able to offer current and future generations of students the same kind of experience. We’ve all never needed it more.'

The University of Oxford has dedicated £60m to establish the Teaching Fund. The fund is aimed at matching philanthropic gifts and ensuring the endowment of 75 key teaching posts across Humanities, Social Sciences, Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences, and Medical Sciences. The closing date for pledges is September 2013.