20 september 2010

Blavatnik School of Government launched


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The Blavatnik School of Government, Europe’s first major school of government, was launched today at the University of Oxford.

American industrialist and philanthropist Leonard Blavatnik has committed £75 million to make the School possible and is ready to consider additional measures of support. Mr Blavatnik’s gift is one of the most generous in the University’s 900-year history. The University is contributing an additional £26 million as well as land in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, where the School will be located.

The School will train outstanding graduates from across the world in the skills and responsibilities of government. This global outlook will reflect the strongly international character of Oxford’s graduate community, two-thirds of whose number are from overseas. It will provide a highly practical series of courses, leading to a Master’s degree, with a unique balance of the humanities, social sciences, law, science, technology, health, finance, energy and security policy.

The School will support over 40 academic posts at Oxford. It will also draw on the teaching skills of a much wider range of world leaders in education, business and government itself. The first students will start in 2012 and student numbers will increase to approximately 120 within the next few years. An international search for the inaugural Dean is currently underway, and planning has begun to design the building to house the new School.

World leaders around the globe have expressed support, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former US president Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Lord Patten, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: ‘This is a once-in-a-century opportunity for Oxford. Through the Blavatnik benefaction, Oxford will now become the world’s leading centre for the training of future leaders in government and public policy – and in ways that take proper account of the very different traditions, institutions and cultures that those leaders will serve. It is an important moment for the future of good government throughout the world.’

Mr Blavatnik, the guest of honour at today’s opening ceremony in Oxford, emphasized that “Oxford University’s reputation provides the School with the opportunity to bring together distinguished teachers and leaders in government to address the entire spectrum of policy issues. My family and I look forward to the School’s significant contribution to all nations and citizens of the world in the years ahead.”

Mr Leonard Blavatnik
Leonard Blavatnik

Professor Andrew Hamilton, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “The School represents a huge milestone in Oxford’s history. It will give tomorrow’s leaders the best of Oxford’s traditional strengths alongside new and practical ways of understanding and addressing the challenges of good governance. The University has educated 26 British Prime Ministers and over 30 other world leaders, yet until now the major international schools of government have all been outside Europe, principally in the United States. The establishment of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford will correct that imbalance.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, an Oxford graduate, called Mr Blavatnik’s gift “a very generous act of philanthropy” and said the School would “create a new avenue for training and research in the crucial field of good government and public policy in this country and around the world".

The full news release is available here.