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University’s £100m Centenary Campaign to support local projects

Actress Stephanie Cole receiving her honorary degree in 2002

Actress Stephanie Cole receiving her honorary degree in 2002

Press release issued: 28 January 2009

Last night [27 January] in Bristol, actress Stephanie Cole launched the University's Centenary Campaign to raise £100m by 2014 in six key areas, many of which are designed to provide support to the local community and which include a range of educational and sporting initiatives.

Last night [27 January] in Bristol, actress Stephanie Cole launched the University’s Centenary Campaign to raise £100m by 2014 in six key areas: £7.5m for culture; £15m for social responsibility; £15m for medicine and health; £15m to support student talent; £19.5m for emerging science and technology and £28m for buildings and a general endowment.


Within these six areas are projects specifically designed to enhance the local community.


The education project, with a fundraising target of £1.5m, aims to help lift Bristol schools out of the bottom quartile of league tables. By working with local schools and councils, the University wants to enhance the educational aspirations, experiences and outcomes of schoolchildren in Bristol. This includes expanding the existing ‘ Access to Bristol’ project, which supports schoolchildren who might otherwise not have the opportunity to do so to go to university. 


The community-sport programme with a target of £250,000, aims to appoint a community sports officer, establish a community sport-leader award and set up a community coach development programme, which will train up to 80 coaches and officials to volunteer in the local community.  


A new state-of-the-art large-animal surgical theatre will provide a much-needed service for vets and farmers throughout the West Country. Other new buildings planned include new libraries and a new Students’ Union building.


The Drama Department, which is the oldest in the country, is also due for refurbishment and expansion.


Speaking at the launch, long-time supporter of the University and President of the Friends of the Theatre Collection, Stephanie Cole, said:

‘Bristol University gives so much to the community without us even realising it. Even though I was raised and educated in Bristol, I didn’t appreciate this until recent years. This Campaign highlights the fact that the University quietly does things that affect the city for good and this is why I chose to become involved.'
Professor Eric Thomas, the Vice-Chancellor, added:
‘Our centenary fundraising campaign is designed to complement and build on Bristol's strengths, turning very good initiatives into great ones. The centenary is also a perfect time to celebrate, and our ambitious fundraising Campaign runs alongside an imaginative range of projects and events to make sure that 2009 is truly memorable for our students, staff, alumni and the wider Bristol community.’
Asked about the challenges of fundraising in an economic downturn, Director of Campaigns and Alumni Relations, Tania Jane Rawlinson, said:
‘In hard times, people focus on what counts and on the impact their philanthropy can have. Our Campaign is about enabling donors to support the areas where we want to do more.’
Roger Holmes, a Bristol graduate, former CEO of Marks & Spencer and Chair of the Centenary Campaign Board, added:
'Bristol University's Centenary Campaign is about creating the conditions in which more truly groundbreaking work is likely to happen. It is about giving young people the opportunity to learn and grow at an extraordinary university.’
Despite the bleak economic climate, the Campaign has already raised £40m and the University’s Annual Giving programme is up over 20 per cent compared to the same time last year, making it second only to Oxford and Cambridge in the Russell Group of UK universities, in terms of the percentage of graduates who give and the amount they donate.


Bristol graduates have always been generous to the University. In this Campaign so far they have donated £3.75m towards scholarships and bursaries for students, against a target of £5m, and generous donations from law alumni will help to refurbish the law library. Since 2004, three alumni alone have left legacies totalling over £5m to the University.


Established with a £100,000 donation from local businessman and philanthropist Henry Overton Wills in 1909, the University has long benefited from philanthropy. Generous support over the last 100 years has helped establish the University as a world-class institution, leading the field in a number of key areas, despite its comparative youthfulness.

Further information

  1. Stephanie Cole has donated over 40 boxes containing records of her life’s work to the University’s Theatre Collection. They document her entire career and include costumes, letters, photos, programmes, scrapbooks and videos. She received an honorary degree from the University in 2002. A picture of the occasion is available to download here until Tuesday 10 February.
  2. The Campaign brochure is available to download here until Tuesday 10 February.
Please contact Dara O'Hare for further information.
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