In 2010 the University announced the launch of the School, a historic milestone, in the presence of American philanthropist Sir Leonard Blavatnik, whose visionary gift enabled the creation of the School at such a critical time.
Sir Len Blavatnik is a major American industrialist, with global interests in natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, technology and e-commerce, and real estate. He is the founder and chairman of Access Industries, a privately held US industrial group with strategic investments throughout the world.
An American citizen since 1984, he has advanced degrees from Columbia and Harvard Universities, and sits on academic boards at Harvard and Tel Aviv Universities. He has long taken a close and active interest in higher education and in 2010 committed £75 million to establish the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. He has funded programmes at Cambridge for the Business School and the Blavatnik Fellows. He is also on the Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences where he sponsors the annual Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists. The Blavatnik Family Foundation has supported numerous other organisations in Israel, Russia and the United States (including Yale University).
In Britain, the Foundation has also provided substantial help to Tate, the National and National Portrait Galleries, the Royal Academies of Arts and of Engineering, the Royal Foundation, the Museum of London, the Royal Opera House, the British Museum, and numerous other leading cultural, educational and charitable institutions. Earlier this month, the Victoria and Albert Museum announced that Sir Len had donated a substantial gift to complete the fund-raising for their new Exhibition Road development.
His donation to found the School will amount to £75 million initially, and he is ready to consider additional measures of support at a later stage. He is personally committed to the success of the School.
Sir Len received the University's highest recognition for donors in October 2012 with the award of the Sheldon Medal. In 2017 he was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to philanthropy.