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Support universities for great and lasting effect, says Dr Gerald Chan at UCL

By ucyow3c, on 15 July 2016


Written by Abigail Smith, UCL Head of Supporter Communications

Society will be short-changed if we view universities as about human resources rather than humanity, according to investor and philanthropist Dr Gerald Chan in a keynote speech at UCL.

Speaking at an event for UCL supporters and academics to celebrate the impact of UCL research and to examine the role of philanthropy in the rapidly changing higher education environment, Dr Chan declared: “This is not just a budgetary struggle, it is a struggle for the very soul of the university.”

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur, UCL Nobel prizewinner Professor John O‘Keefe and Dr Gerald Chan

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur,
UCL Nobel prizewinner Professor John O‘Keefe
and Dr Gerald Chan

The independence of universities is crucial in order to maintain the balance between their role, both as engines of the economy and places of curiosity-driven research, he added, and a philanthropic “public-private partnership” is vital to that.

“Higher education is not cheap; what is more expensive to society are the consequences of not supporting its universities,” he said. “In a democratic society, governments come and go, and government funding priorities come and go, but a properly managed endowment endures.”

Read the full speech on Dr Chan’s website.

Dr Gerald Chan is a Boston-based investor who co-founded the international investment group Morningside.

Dr Chan received his BS and MS degrees in Engineering from UCLA, a Master of Science degree in Medical Radiological Physics, and a Doctor of Science degree in Radiation Biology from Harvard University. He completed his post-doctoral training in pathology at the Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

In 2013, he donated $350m to Harvard’s School of Public Health, the largest gift in the university’s history. Of this gift he commented: “My friend at Harvard always said to potential donors, ‘You are not giving to Harvard. You are giving to all of humanity through Harvard.’ The same can be said of UCL.”

The event was hosted by UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur, and was attended by some of the university’s major supporters along with around 30 of its leading academics, including Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Professor John O’Keefe.

The event celebrated UCL’s success in raising philanthropic funding which Professor Arthur described as “the magic ingredient that turns our big ambitions into reality”.

It comes as UCL prepares to launch a major new fundraising and engagement Campaign on 15 September 2016, which will kick off with a major public event addressing the question, ‘How Will Society Survive To The 22nd Century?’

Leading UCL academics answering the event through the lens of their expertise include human rights expert Philippe Sands, neuroscientist John Hardy, space scientist Lucie Green and extreme medicine researcher Kevin Fong.

It takes place at the UCL Institute of Education’s Logan Hall from 6pm and everyone is welcome. Register for free.

Watch a video of Dr Chan’s speech below:

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