We welcome our donors into each Circle based on their total contributions to the University. These include both individuals and organisations that have kindly donated large sums or given small amounts regularly over many years.
Their donations fund a range of life-changing initiatives, supporting our pioneering research – from curing cancer to preserving the arts – and enhancing the experience for talented students no matter what their background. They have made a big difference to Southampton and lives around the globe; this is our way of saying thank you.
Introducing the six Southampton Giving Circles
The Hartley Circle: £1,000+
The Hartley Circle is named after the University’s first and most well-known benefactor: Henry Robinson Hartley. Heir to a family wine business, he left his estate to the Corporation of Southampton upon his death, wishing to promote the study and advancement of science and learning. The result was the Hartley Institution, opened below the Bargate in 1862 – and now known as the University of Southampton. This Circle, therefore, honours the ongoing development of the institution through philanthropy.
The Grassam Sims Circle: £10,000+
In 1967, Margaret Grassam Sims – daughter of Edward Turner Sims, a former member of the University’s Council – made a bequest that allowed the construction of a dedicated concert hall. Moving musical performances from the increasingly busy Nuffield Theatre, the Turner Sims Concert Hall was eventually opened in 1974. Margaret’s dream was to transform the musical landscape of Southampton; this Circle celebrates the power of her and so many other donors’ ambitions. A philanthropic spirit ran in the family, too, as her sister Mary also funded the construction of the University library.
The Vickers Circle: £25,000+
The Vickers Circle demonstrates the impact of leadership by remembering Kenneth Vickers, the former Principal for over 20 years. At the time, the institution was known as Southampton University College – it was Kenneth’s objective to get the College granted full university status. Despite the financial crisis in 1931, he led a successful fundraising campaign that eventually resulted in the establishment of the University of Southampton in 1952.
The Montefiore Circle: £100,000+
A long-standing President of the institution and prominent Jewish scholar, Claude Montefiore donated his collection of 4,500 volumes on theology, Judaism, classical texts, and ancient history to the University in 1938. These were later added to the Parkes Library – one of the largest Jewish documentation centres in Europe, and part of the University’s Special Collections. As such, the Montefiore Circle values the rich variety of philanthropy that Southampton has seen over the years and continues to see today.
The Darwin Circle: £500,000+
William Erasmus Darwin, eldest son of the great naturalist Charles Darwin, was a firm believer in education for all, which this Circle fittingly recognises. As the Council’s treasurer for over 40 years, he not only championed the establishment of the University College in 1902, but he also generously contributed to the purchase of land that would one day become Highfield Campus.
The Somers Circle: £1,000,000+
Our highest tier, the Somers Circle celebrates the donors of our most significant gifts. Dame Phyllis Somers was a leader in supporting causes in medical research and social welfare. She made two milestone donations to the University, both having a transformational impact on cancer research; one in 1999 led to Medicine’s first new building for around 20 years, and another formed the basis for our Centre for Cancer Immunology campaign.
The Moore Circle: £1,000+ legacy pledges
In addition to the six Giving Circles, the Moore Circle recognises the difference that a legacy can make for generations to come. In 1925, George Moore left a gift in his will to the University – where he had served as a Council Member, and where his daughter had studied – towards the development of Life Sciences. This resulted in the construction of the George Moore Botanical Building, as well as the laying of a botanical garden that the University community continues to appreciate today in its new life as Valley Gardens.
Why give back?
So why do our donors give to Southampton? There are many areas to support across the University, and ensuring that our students can thrive is just one of the popular causes among our alumni community.
As part of a recent Student Hardship fundraising campaign, we asked alumni donors to pass on a message to students – one that would be included in a welcome pack for those in need of extra financial support. Here are just a few of the heart-warming responses:
I hope this helps you through whatever challenge you are facing. There is a way through. May you build on your gifts, bringing them to the world. And may you have some fun along the way. Best wishes to you.
If you are a new student, you have chosen your university well. I graduated in 1958. Since that time, the opportunities in study, sport and leisure, and research have broadened tremendously. Go for it! Work hard, and enjoy your time at the University of Southampton.
I first went to uni in the ‘60s. No fees, all accommodation paid for, plus a travel grant and book grant. There is no way I could have gone otherwise. So I am happy to help students nowadays as a thank you for all I have had.
When life is going to a bad place and you are unable to concentrate on your studies, take a short time to do something of interest, not related to your course of study. Then return to the work; you will find the blockage has gone.
I meet a lot of University of Southampton grads, and they are all team players and some of the best people to work with. Hang on in there – you are at a great place!
If you’d like to find out more about supporting the University and our variety of causes, check out our online giving platform.