Reuben College Oxford

University of Oxford

Reuben Foundation makes landmark gift for first new Oxford college in over 30 years

    • Milestone £80 million gift from the Reuben Foundation to support Oxford University’s newest graduate college, to be named Reuben College in perpetuity
    • New college in central Oxford in the heart of the University’s science area will focus on interdisciplinary research addressing future global challenges including cellular research (and vaccine development), environmental change and AI
    • Gift will also fund major new graduate scholarship programme and expand the Reuben Foundation’s existing support for undergraduates
    • Transformational gift for Oxford – one of the largest in its history – and milestone grant for the Reuben Foundation’s key commitments to the advancement of education and healthcare worldwide

The Reuben Foundation has made a landmark £80m donation that will transform Oxford’s newest college and establish a major new scholarship programme for graduate and undergraduate students.

The college will be named ‘Reuben College’, in recognition of the historic gift that secures its vision of a diverse, dynamic research community working on some of the key issues of our time.

This establishes the university’s 39th college – the first for 30 years – as a new base for graduate students who are eager to embrace opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange and apply their research to address key future challenges.

Due to welcome its first students in the autumn of 2021, Reuben College has already attracted an outstanding line-up of academic Fellows. The college aims to generate new insights into the biggest questions of our time by bringing academics from traditionally different disciplines together to work on challenging themes and share their knowledge with the college’s graduate students. A culture of innovation and enterprise and a strong commitment to diversity, sustainability and public engagement will cut across all interdisciplinary activities. The college’s initial research themes are: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; Environmental Change; and Cellular Life, which includes ongoing work in understanding COVID-19 and the current pandemic.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: “Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Reuben family, Reuben College will join the storied ranks of Oxford Colleges. For generations to come, the lives of young people will be transformed as they learn to engage in research that pushes at the frontiers of knowledge. Now, more than ever, our society needs a new generation of highly educated researchers to address the global challenges that transcend national borders. This gift represents a vote of confidence in Oxford, a vote of confidence in the power of research to solve societal problems, and above all, a vote of confidence in the future.”

The donation is also a landmark one for the Reuben Foundation, which has recently made significant donations of healthcare equipment for Oxford University Hospitals (as well as other hospitals in the UK and elsewhere) treating patients with COVID-19. As well as providing a substantial endowment for the college, the gift expands the existing Reuben Scholarship Programme, which was established in 2012 for disadvantaged undergraduate students. The Programme will now also include Oxford-Reuben graduate scholarships for students at Reuben College. The Oxford-Reuben Scholarships will help attract the world’s most talented graduate students, who will be at the heart of the college’s knowledge exchange activities, with many of them going on to form the next generation of outstanding academics.

The Reuben family said: “The current pandemic has shown us just how vital it is to have access to the very best medical research and academic thinking. Fortunately, in the UK we have some of the finest minds in the world working in some of the most pre-eminent academic institutions. We hope that this endowment for the Reuben College will help keep Oxford University at the global forefront of research in the vital areas of Environmental Change, AI and Machine Learning and Cellular Life, thereby helping to improve the lives of millions of people long into the future.”

Lisa Reuben, Trustee of the Reuben Foundation, said: “The Reuben Foundation has been supporting Oxford University for many years with its scholarship programme to support those from disadvantaged backgrounds. We are delighted to further our ties with the university through this endowment, creating the new Reuben College which will become part of Oxford life in perpetuity along with a further enhanced scholarship endowment.

Professor Lionel Tarassenko, President of the college, said: ‘This gift is a massive endorsement of our mission to provide a genuinely collaborative home for academics and foster new, interdisciplinary approaches to problems of global significance which will inspire our graduate students. We launched last year with a focus on the three themes of artificial intelligence, environmental change and cellular life. Now we can envisage a future that includes more cross-cutting research themes and offers richer engagement opportunities for our academics, graduate students and the community at large.’

Located in a suite of buildings on the historic Radcliffe Science Library site, Reuben College is in the heart of the University’s Science Area. The buildings are currently undergoing refurbishment to create a central site for the college’s graduate students. Some of the space will be shared with the Radcliffe Science Library and the University museums. On completion in 2021, Reuben College will offer accessible and modern facilities, with flexible spaces for quiet study, group meetings, seminars and workshops, public events and social occasions. The college’s students will have access not only to world-leading academics (the College Fellows) but also to the specialist knowledge and expertise of library and museum staff located in the buildings. Reuben College will also include a Digital Innovation Studio equipped with cutting-edge technologies and digital resources to support learning, knowledge exchange and public engagement.

More about Reuben College:

Reuben College aims to generate new insights into the biggest questions of our time by bringing academics together from traditionally different disciplines to work on challenging themes and share their knowledge with the college’s graduate students. A culture of innovation and enterprise and strong commitment to diversity, sustainability and public engagement will cut across all inter-disciplinary activities. The college’s initial research themes are:

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning: Oxford is established as one of the world’s leading centres for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning research, addressing problems of global significance. In particular, there is pioneering work taking place in robotics, driverless cars, healthcare, finance, privacy and ethical issues. Reuben College will create a cluster of computer scientists and engineers, working on fundamental principles and applications in every area from finance to healthcare to robotics, working alongside neuroscientists interested in characterising human intelligence and philosophers working on the philosophy of the mind.

Cellular Life: Reuben College researchers will bring together researchers seeking to understand the underlying mechanisms of living organisms, with an emphasis on the cell. From the nerve cells that wire our brain to the specialised cells of the pancreas and liver that control how our body processes food, understanding how cells work will transform our knowledge of ourselves, as well as our ability to cure disease. Research on cellular life will involve social scientists as much as medical researchers; for example, ageing, which is caused by the accumulation of cellular defects, is of as much interest to social scientists helping to shape public policy as to gerontologists.

Environmental Change: This theme spans the causes of biodiversity loss and climate change and how we respond to those changes. A dynamic cluster of researchers, covering the humanities, physical sciences and social sciences, will develop solutions including international policy processes, and behavioural and technological innovations. The college intends to work with partners in communities who will both be most affected by, and most able to make a difference to, environmental change. The theme’s work will be in collaboration with indigenous groups, NGOs, government and business working to find solutions on the ground.

College Fellows in the AI & Machine Learning and Cellular Life themes include researchers working on improving our understanding and treatment of COVID-19, including vaccine development, patient monitoring and disease forecasting.

Ethics & Values: One of the main goals of Reuben College is to facilitate interdisciplinary research and collaboration in order to tackle some of the most challenging questions of our time, such as how to mitigate climate change or how to safely use AI to promote healthcare. To this end, it is of the utmost importance that we also examine the ethical issues and societal implications arising from scientific and technological developments, as well as the social and cultural values which often drive opinions and decisions.

The “Ethics and Values” research theme focuses on applied ethics and real world problems. It creates strong links across the diverse research expertise within the College community by engaging with the ethical questions that various themes have in common (e.g. ethics of privacy is relevant to both the AI and Cellular Life themes). Deploying theories and analytical techniques from philosophy, sociology, psychology and other disciplines within the humanities, the theme aims to encourage and facilitate critical thinking about what research we conduct, how we conduct it, and with what goal. What sort of world should we strive to create through academic research?

The aim is to include a diverse representation of backgrounds and fields of study within this research theme, and to engage scholars from a range of disciplines, who can offer invaluable contributions to critical thinking about approaches to and outcomes from new developments in science, medicine and technology.

Press on Reuben College: