Billionaire Brothers Donate $101 Million to Oxford University

11 June 2020, Bloomberg.com

The charitable foundation of David and Simon Reuben has donated 80 million pounds ($101 million) to Oxford University’s newest college.

The gift will fund scholarships and research into areas like environmental change. The institute will be renamed Reuben College, according to a statement Thursday.

“The current pandemic has shown us just how vital it is to have access to the very best medical research and academic thinking,” the Reuben family said in the release.

The donation is a high-profile move from one of Britain’s most discreet billionaire families and is the latest mega-gift to one of the U.K.’s top universities, whose fundraising efforts have traditionally trailed their U.S. counterparts.

When hedge fund manager David Harding gave 100 million pounds to Cambridge University last year, it was the biggest single private gift to a U.K. college from a British philanthropist at the time. A few months later, Blackstone Group’s Stephen Schwarzman gave Oxford 150 million pounds to help pay for projects including an institute to study the ethics of artificial intelligence.

The Reuben brothers are behind one of the world’s biggest portfolios of retail, office and residential properties. Sons of Iraqi Jews, they were born in India and moved to London as teenagers. They built a fortune trading metals in Russia and later invested in real estate, leisure interests and technology companies.

Teaching in Oxford dates back to at least 1096, according to its website. It has educated dozens of British prime ministers including Boris Johnson.