A study house for humanities scholars, funded in part by Led Zeppelin, has formally opened on St Giles this week.
The band pledged to donate money from their 2007 sell-out concert in the London O2 Arena to an educational establishment in honour of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, prompting his widow, Mica Ertegun, to donate £26 million to Oxford University.
The donation has been used to form The Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities. The scholarship will provide full funding for 16 world-class graduates in subjects including literature, history, music, archaeology, art history and Asian studies
Ertegun was responsible for discovering and signing Led Zepellin in 1968, and the band paid tribute to him via video link at the opening of Ertegun House.
“Ahmet always said that it was his own education that gave him the foundation to broaden his vision and pursue great things in music,” said guitarist Jimmy Page.
“It’s a marvellous tribute to him that the Ertegun programme is now launched.”
Speaking at the launch of the study centre, Mica Ertegun explained that she wanted to provide “enduring inspiration for brilliant and enthusiastic students from all over the world to devote themselves to the study of the humanities”.
She added: “My dream is that, one day, Ertegun Scholars will be leaders in every field – as historians and philosophers, as archaeologists and literary scholars, as writers and composers, as statesmen and theologians.”
Prof Andrew Hamilton, Oxford University Vice-Chancellor, has promised that the university will support Mrs Ertegun’s financial contribution by funding an additional five Ertegun scholarships next year and extending the programme to at least 35 scholars in 2014.
He said: “The Ertegun Programme supports Oxford University’s commitment to providing financial support that allows the brightest graduates to study at the University, whatever their personal circumstances.
“The University is pleased to provide additional studentships and augment Mrs Ertegun’s extraordinary philanthropy.
“We are excited to be welcoming the inaugural class of Ertegun Scholars to the University of Oxford,” added Hamilton.
Joe Snape, an Ertegun scholar studying at Musicology at New College, said: “It’s an amazing opportunity to come to Oxford to study in such a fantastic facility, together with a bunch of really motivated, passionate people.
“In simple, financial terms, [the scholarship] makes the difference between being able to continue studying or not.
He continued: “I applied to Oxford because I knew there was more funding available than at many other places.
“I expected a lot when I arrived – it is honestly more amazing than I could have dared hope,” he added.
All the Scholars are provided with a dedicated working area within Ertegun House for research and writing, and will be mentored by Dr Bryan Ward-Perkins, Oxford historian and archaeologist, who is famous for his book ‘The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization’.
PHOTO/ John Cairns