Dolby family’s £85million gift is new record for Cambridge University

PUBLISHED: 11:26 08 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:47 09 December 2017

Cavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + Whiles - Plasma Cleanroom

Cavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + Whiles - Plasma Cleanroom

ILIFFE

The donation means the university has broken the £1billion barrier in it’s Dear World... Yours, Cambridge campaign.

Ray DolbyRay Dolby

As an early Christmas present, £85million is a great deal more than the average stocking filler. In fact, this gift to the University of Cambridge for its new Cavendish Laboratory is the second largest the university has ever received.

It comes from the estate of Ray Dolby, known for Dolby Surround audio and various audio signal processing technologies. As well as ranking in the university’s top two, – Bill and Melinda Gates donated $210m in 2000 – the gift is the largest philanthropic donation ever made to UK science.

The Dolby family has already been more than generous to Cambridge. It donated £35million to Pembroke College in 2015.

Mr Dolby died in 2013 at the age of 80. He arrived at Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar in 1957, received his PhD from the Cavendish in 1961, and was a student and later a Fellow of Pembroke College.

Cavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + Whiles - Sectional perspectiveCavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + Whiles - Sectional perspective

“The University of Cambridge played a pivotal role in Ray’s life, both personally and professionally,” said Mr Dolby’s widow, Dagmar. “At Cambridge and at the Cavendish, he gained the formative education and insights that contributed greatly to his lifelong ground-breaking creativity, and enabled him to start his business.”

The flagship building of the Cavendish Laboratory redevelopment on the West Cambridge site will be named the Ray Dolby Centre, and is expected to open in 2022. A Ray Dolby Research Group will be established at Cavendish, led by a newly-endowed Ray Dolby Professorship.

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Cavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + Whiles - ReceptionCavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + Whiles - Reception

Cambridge vice-chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, said: “This unparalleled gift is a fitting tribute to Ray Dolby’s legacy, who changed the way the world listened – his research paved the way for an entire industry.”

“A century from now, we can only speculate on which discoveries will alter the way we live our lives, and which new industries will have been born in the Cavendish Laboratory, in large part thanks to this extraordinarily generous gift.”

The gift also means that Cambridge University has surpassed the £1billion milestone in its current £2bn fundraising campaign.

Cavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + WhilesCavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + Whiles

Mr Dolby’s son David said: “My father’s time at the Cavendish provided him with an environment where he got a world-class education in physics, and many of his successful ideas about noise reduction were stimulated by his Cambridge experience.

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Cavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + Whiles - Entrance from rampCavendish Laboratory impression by Jestico + Whiles - Entrance from ramp

“Our family is pleased to be able to support the future scientists and innovators who will benefit from the thoughtfully designed Ray Dolby Centre.”

The new Cavendish Laboratory will be the third since it was founded in 1874. It was first announced by the Government in its 2015 Spending Review. Westminster promised a £75m investment in the Cavendish, which was confirmed today. The funding will be delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Work on the new facility is expected to begin in 2019.

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