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Oxford University has been given £150million – its largest donation in at least 500 years.
The gift from US businessman Stephen Schwarzman exceeds any other sum recorded in archives that go back to the 15th century.
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Explaining his decision, the 72-year-old billionaire said he had fallen in love with the ‘dreaming spires’ of Oxford as a teenager. His cash will fund a new humanities hub, including a centre for the study of the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI).
‘When I was 15 years old I visited Oxford and I was really impressed,’ Mr Schwarzman told the Daily Mail.
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The Philadelphia-born chief of the Blackstone investment firm said he was especially worried about the future of AI. ‘We’re going to have to make choices about what we are going to allow AI to do and what we don’t.
His donation followed a direct approach by Oxford vice chancellor Louise Richardson. ‘I had seen that he had made a major gift to the New York public library and to Yale, so I went to see him,’ she told the Mail.
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‘I pitched to him the idea of funding a humanities building in Oxford. I said that we did have much more ambitious plans, but we’ve had to constrain them due to financial circumstances.
The new Schwarzman Centre, in the historic Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, will house all the university’s humanities programmes in the same building for the first time.
History - Linguistics - Languages - Music - Philosophy
These include English, history, linguistics, languages, music, philosophy and theology, with a new library space for collaborative study.
It will also be home to the...
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