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Generous University supporters added to College of Benefactors

College of Benefactors - 2017 Inductees

Two organisations have been officially recognised by the University of Reading for their donations that have made a positive difference to students.

The Friends of the University of Reading and University Partnerships Programme (UPP) were inducted into the College of Benefactors during the University’s graduation ceremony on 6 July.

Launched in 2014, the College of Benefactors celebrates the generosity of supporters who have made exceptional gifts to the University of Reading. Induction into the College is the highest honour that the University can bestow upon a donor.

The Friends of the University of Reading

The Friends of the University of Reading was founded in 1927 to foster contact between the University and those interested in its educational goals, history and future development. Today, the group has 450 members, drawn from former and current staff as well as the wider community.

Throughout their 90-year history the Friends have raised funds to enable the University to undertake initiatives outside its core activities of teaching and research, and to improve its campuses. Included among the many projects that the Friends have supported are the Friends’ Bridge over Whiteknights Lake, a magnificent stained glass window for the Museum of English Rural Life and the cloisters on the London Road Campus.

In addition to these landmarks, the Friends have funded sporting and musical equipment, and consider applications for grants for worthwhile projects from across the University on a yearly basis. A programme of activities is also available for members to gain further insight into the University, such as tours and events.

University Partnerships Programme

UPP is the leading provider of on-campus, residential and academic accommodation infrastructure, working in partnership with UK universities.

UPP and the University established a partnership nearly two decades ago with the development of Benyon Hall. This was extended in December 2011, with a 125-year partnership in which UPP became responsible for the running of the entire University residential estate. This close partnership has helped to release capital and resources which have been reinvested in teaching, research and improving the student experience.

Over the years UPP have also worked closely with the Reading Real Estate Foundation, particularly the Pathways to Property Programme. Through their support, UPP has helped to provide bursaries, assistance with accommodation, and networking and work experience opportunities in the real estate sector for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In memoriam

At the graduation ceremony, the University also paid tribute to Muriel Hirst MBE and John Nike OBE DL, two members of the College of Benefactors who recently passed away. Mrs Hirst and Mr Nike were among the first members inducted into the College in 2014. We are thankful for their long-standing commitment and generosity to the University. They will be sadly missed.

Muriel Hirst MBE

Muriel Hirst was associated with the University for more than 40 years. Together with her husband, the late Professor Wallace Hirst, she initiated an annual scholarship enabling students from the developing world to study for a Master’s degree in either agriculture and international development or renewable energy.

In 2010, following the death of her husband, she endowed the fund for the Wallace and Muriel Hirst Scholarship permanently. To date, the University has welcomed more than 20 scholars from around the world, many of whom have gone on to senior roles in their home countries.

John Nike OBE DL

John Nike has been a long-standing friend and supporter of the University. He funded the Nike Lecture Theatre, created as part of the Agriculture Building, in 2000 and played a crucial role in furthering our cardiovascular and metabolic research with his contribution to the Centre for Cardiovascular Imagining, established in 2015.

In 2009 he founded the John Nike Sports Scholarship, which is awarded each year to an athlete with the potential to compete in the Olympic Games. John said of his commitment to the University of Reading that, through his philanthropy, he shared “the dream of success and [felt] fulfilment through providing for talented recipients”. 

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