St. Anne’s has decided to rename its Junior Common Room in honour of the alumni who donated £1.5m to the college.
‘The Danson Room’ as it will now be called, comes after last month’s record donation to the college from Michael and Helen Danson. Mr Danson read law at St Anne’s until 1985 and his gift is the largest ever lifetime donation from a senior member in the college’s history.
The fund will go towards creating 43 new bursaries for undergraduates from low income backgrounds, as well as establishing a mentoring and internship programme for students from all years.
The ‘Danson Mentoring Programme’ will be launched at the college from 2013, offering work experience and career advice to students. It will also allow students of all years to participate in a mentoring and internship programme with companies based around the Danson Foundation.
Opportunities are set to include placements in management consultancy, private equity and digital and printed media. The aim of the programme is to ensure that financial pressures and a lack of personal contacts do not prevent students from gaining the work experience they require.
St Anne’s History student, Sam Richardson said: “ I think Danson is great. [M]oney is one thing; but all these internship opportunities could make a lifelong difference to disadvantaged students.”
Speaking after the announcement of the donation, Tim Gardam, Principal of St Anne’s said: “Mike and Helen’s benefaction is a magnificent statement of support for all that St Anne’s stands for – our commitment to give opportunities to talented students whom Oxford otherwise might overlook.
“It is a wonderful example of the generosity on which St Anne’s now depends as Government funding fall.”
He added: ‘‘The mentoring programme will give students an unprecedented chance to prepare for the world beyond Oxford.”
Successful applicants will have the opportunity to take part in a week long internship during the spring vacation, followed by a longer placement during the summer.
Oscar Boyd, JCR president at St Anne’s, said: “The gift from Michael and Helen Danson is exceptionally generous and will fund bursaries at St Anne’s for years to come. St Anne’s considers itself as one of the most open colleges and this does wonders for our Access scheme, as we shall be able to continue and expand upon our wide range of bursaries.
“The Danson Mentoring Scheme is equally generous, and will provide St Anne’s students with a range of interesting internships in such companies as the New Statesman.”
Mr Danson was the founder of the online information company Datamonitor, which he sold five years ago. He is now involved in a broad spectrum of business and philanthropic enterprises, including media and internet companies such as ‘The New Statesman’, Globaldata and the Progressive Media Group.
A spokesperson for The Danson Foundation said that it “is delighted to be able to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds to be able to take a place a St Anne’s, Oxford, through the Danson Bursary programme.
As well as this we want to offer students an opportunity to experience the work place through internships and gain further understanding of what type of career they might want to pursue after Oxford.”
He added: “We hope that those students who benefit from the Danson Bursaries and Internships will become part of an alumnae that will also support those coming through the programme after them”.