Worcester College
Worcester College

Worcester College receives £30m donation for new library

Worcester alumnus Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones KBE has donated £30 million to Worcester College, the largest donation the college has ever received. The donation is more than half of Worcester’s endowment. 

The “transformational gift” will be used to construct a new library and graduate accommodation building.

Sir Lindsay matriculated in 1965 to read Modern Languages. He was appointed Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal in 1988 and has been its Honorary President since 2011. He said, “for a teenager from Merseyside, studying at Worcester was a life-changing opportunity which dramatically widened my horizons and awakened my ambition. I am delighted that I can express my profound appreciation for all that Worcester did for me through this gift.” According to The Sunday Times Rich List, Sir Lindsay has a net worth of £467 million.

Worcester has described the proposed Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones Library as “far more than a library” as it will provide space for both individual and group working with “multi-media facilities” in “the heart of the College site”. It will be constructed to the “highest environmental standards” and provide step-free access.

The college’s most recent build, the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre, won a prestigious RIBA National Award for architecture

The college currently has two libraries, the historic Lower Library and the more modern Murdoch Reading Room. They are both located at the top of an eighteenth-century cantilevered staircase with over 60 steps. 

The Lower Library houses collections of international significance, while the Murdoch Reading Room contains 65,000 volumes and is where the majority of student study space is located. The Oxford Student understands that the Lower Library will remain as it is, while the modern library will be moved to the new space.

The current modern library last underwent significant renovation more than 40 years ago. 

The graduate accommodation building will increase the amount of graduate accommodation Worcester can provide, and will also create an additional source of income. The college hopes it will be a “welcome alternative to living out” and set a “new standard for single and double residences at Worcester.”

Announcing the donation, Worcester’s Governing Body did not provide information on when the new buildings are estimated to be complete, telling current Worcester students and staff that they “look forward to keeping you updated with the progress of this project.”

Worcester College Provost, David Isaac, said, “we are deeply grateful to Sir Lindsay for making this incredible commitment to Worcester College. Worcester College owes its existence to a generous benefaction; Sir Lindsay’s gift will be equally transformational for students in the twenty-first century.”

In an interview with the Woosta Source, a JCR magazine, Isaac had said that he hoped his legacy as Worcester’s Provost would be to leave it a “richer college.” 

Worcester’s outgoing JCR President, Sam Millington, said “it’s great that donation money that we don’t often get to see in Oxford is going toward something that will directly benefit us as students. For students, the donation provides some light during what has been a difficult few years financially for all of us. I look forward seeing what’s to come of it.”

Worcester College MCR has been approached for comment.