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  • The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope
    The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope

The Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Fund is a valuable source of unrestricted funding for the University, allowing the Vice-Chancellor to direct funds to projects that have pressing needs.

The Fund also allows the University the flexibility to respond quickly to time-sensitive opportunities.

Success stories

Captain Scott's letters

Captain Scott’s letter from Antarctica

In 2013 the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) was offered the opportunity to purchase one of the last letters written by Captain Robert Falcon Scott. The letter was written to Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman in Scott’s final days from his last camp on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. It is one of only two letters known to exist in private hands and contained new information on Scott’s views of the failed, tragic expedition.

In recognition of its appropriate place among the SPRI collection, the letter’s owners offered the Institute the right of first refusal on the letter and a special sale price of £78,616 was offered. However a short deadline was set, after which time the letter would be made available for public auction.

Faced with the serious possibility of losing the letter to a private collector abroad, SPRI sought to raise the purchase price from a number of sources. Due to the time restriction, SPRI was unable to raise the total price before the deadline and were forced to take out a loan in order to purchase the letter. The Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Fund was approached and agreed to provide the £25,000 required to repay the loan, playing a key role in uniting this important letter with SPRI’s existing collection.

At the Festival of Ideas

Rising stars at The Festival of Ideas

The Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Fund elected to provide £10,000 of funding to the 2013 Festival of Ideas. The grant allowed for the development of a strand of events in the festival that involved contributions from ‘rising stars’ of the arts, humanities and social sciences of 2012-2013 and provided training to help them prepare for their events.

The ‘rising stars’ programme provides training to early career researchers to help them weave public engagement into their research and gives them a platform to present their ideas.

Events organised by 'rising stars' at The Festival of Ideas included an afternoon of activities exploring the history of science in the medieval Islamic world; a series of film screenings that explored the relationship between architecture, urban planning and cinema; a lively debate about immigration attended by more than 400 people; and Bright Club, an event that allowed researchers to become stand-up comedians and present their ideas in humorous ways.

The festival was attended by more than 18,000 people and through the contribution of the Vice-Chancellor’s Discretionary Fund, the ‘rising stars’ of Cambridge were able to participate in this celebratory event of the arts, humanities and social sciences.

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