The University of Oxford has established The Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities, which will be launched immediately with 15 scholarships a year and will eventually be endowed in perpetuity to award at least 35 graduate humanities scholarships annually.
Leading humanities students from throughout the world will compete for full graduate scholarships in fields as diverse as literature, history, music, archaeology, art history, Asian studies, and Middle Eastern studies.
The recipients of the prestigious award will have the exclusive use of The Mica and Ahmet Ertegun House for the Study of the Humanities, a five-storey Georgian building in the heart of Oxford, which will be fitted out with state-of-the-art technological capability and serve as the base for study and research by the Ertegun Scholars.
The gift will ultimately amount to more than £26 million. In addition to funding the scholarships themselves in perpetuity, the gift will also endow in perpetuity the salary of a full-time Ertegun Senior Scholar in Residence who will provide mentorship for the Ertegun Scholars, and a programme of lectures, seminars, concerts and other activities at Ertegun House.
The Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Lord Patten, said: “Through the generosity of Mica Ertegun, the best Humanities graduate students in the world will have the opportunity, in perpetuity, to undertake high-quality research, to interact with other fine minds, and to increase the sum of human knowledge and understanding. This kind of support for postgraduates is vital for the future of research and human understanding, and vital for the future of great universities like Oxford. It allows us to ensure that the very best minds are supporting the University’s research endeavour now and will be the cutting edge researchers of the future.”
Mica Ertegun, the Romanian-born widow of famed Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, lives in New York City and is one of the world’s foremost interior designers.
“For Ahmet and for me, one of the great joys of life has been the study of history, music, languages, literature, art and archaeology,” Mrs Ertegun said.
“In these times, when there is so much strife in the world, I believe it is tremendously important to support those things that endure across time, that bind people together from every culture, and that enrich the capacity of human beings to understand one another and make the world a more humane place. I am very proud of the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme at Oxford, and I intend that it provide an enduring inspiration for brilliant and enthusiastic students from all over the world to devote themselves to the study of the Humanities.”
“My dream is that, one day, Ertegun Scholars will be leaders in every field – as historians and philosophers, as archaeologists and literary scholars, as writers and composers, as statesmen and theologians.”
Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor, Andrew Hamilton, said of the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme: “This is a significant moment for the study of the Humanities and the largest donation specifically for the Humanities in the 900-year history of Oxford. At a time when, in the UK, government support for the Humanitiesis under intense pressure, vision and generosity like this is going to be what saves the field for future generations. We are immensely grateful to Mrs Ertegun and Americans for Oxford, Inc. for making the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme possible.”
Ertegun House will be ready for the first group of Ertegun Scholars in the Michaelmas term, commencing in September 2012.