‘A Connection to the Real World’: How a passion for problem-solving inspired David Manns’s legacy giving

‘A Connection to the Real World’: How a passion for problem-solving inspired David Manns’s legacy giving

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David Manns (Trinity 1964) believes in the power of philanthropy to address the deepest roots of the problems we face as a species and a society — and he trusts Cambridge to lead the way.

What’s important to me is to take that legacy and make sure that it provides the most benefit towards improving quality of life and of society. In taking such a step, I had to be sure that my legacy would be used as I intended. I can’t think of anywhere I would trust more than Cambridge to make good use of my contribution.

David Manns

His relationship with and belief in the Collegiate University — and his experience of how philanthropy changes lives — started very close to home. David was encouraged to pursue a Cambridge education by his family, particularly his father Leonard Manns (Queens’ 1939), whose working-class background had meant he could only attend Cambridge with a full scholarship. Now, his son David’s philanthropy aims to ensure that finances will not be a barrier for future students to study at Cambridge, and that the unique educational perspective he found here — and that he has valued throughout his life — will continue to transform the world for generations to come.

As a student, David loved life at Trinity. “It was a diverse community, where I found people interested in everything and broad discussions at dinner in hall. It was a very fertile environment,” he recalls. He was a student in the Department of Mathematics, but eventually realised he couldn't see a path for himself in pure mathematics: “It was getting too abstract. I needed connection to the real world.”

After leaving the University, mathematics was his entry point into the burgeoning field of computer science. Cambridge taught David “a very open approach to life… my education had the kind of broad underpinning that allows students to apply what they’ve learned far outside the sphere in which they learned it.” The importance of transferrable skills is something today’s students would recognise all too readily, and David was keen to pay his experience forward. After a career as a software architect and developer, he turned his focus to mentorship, sharing his expertise and insight with the next generation in the industry.

The problem-solving skills he learned at Cambridge not only helped David to shape a life and a career — they also led him to leave a legacy to the Collegiate University specifically to support to the longer-term ambitions and impact that the Cambridge community focuses on in its research and teaching. “What’s important to me is to take that legacy and make sure that it provides the most benefit towards improving quality of life and of society. In taking such a step, I had to be sure that my legacy would be used as I intended. I can’t think of anywhere I would trust more than Cambridge to make good use of my contribution.”

David’s philanthropic involvement with Collegiate Cambridge also paid an unexpected dividend when he approached Queens’ College after both parents passed away to set up a student support fund in his father’s name. Despite his manifest devotion to the University, Leonard hadn't shared much about his own Cambridge experience with his son. “He went straight from Cambridge to war, working on radar in WWII, and developed a habit of not talking about things,” David explains. But the College found Leonard Manns in their records and even identified the room he had lived in, giving David “a little connection with his life that I never had before.”

By including Trinity, Queens’ and the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in his Will, David ensures that the connections both large and small that gave his own life richness will endure to benefit the students of the future.

Find out more about leaving a legacy gift

We would be delighted to hear from you if you would like to know more about remembering Cambridge with a gift in your Will. Whether you pledge to support the arts, studentships, scientific research or one of our Colleges, your generosity will help transform Cambridge for future generations.

For an informal discussion about a legacy gift, please contact:

Alice Macek

Alice Macek

Associate Director — Legacies

legacies@philanthropy.cam.ac.uk

07761 042151

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Philanthropic giving is at the heart of the success of the Collegiate University, enabling us to make discoveries that change the world and to ensure that our students receive an unrivalled education. Cambridge owes its world-leading excellence in research and teaching to the generosity of its supporters. Our history is synonymous with a history of far-sighted benefaction, and the same is as true today as it has ever been.