A big event on Friday launched the new branding for the Gates Cambridge Scholarships.
Over 250 academics, business and social leaders and Gates Cambridge Alumni and Scholars attended the unveiling of the new vision for the Gates Cambridge Scholarships on Friday.
At the event, which included the second annual graduation dinner for Scholars, it was announced that Bill and Melinda Gates had agreed to become Honorary Patrons of the Gates Cambridge Trust.
Bill Gates Sr, father of Bill Gates, was also presented with a silver salver for his 12 years' service to the Trust. He bows out this year to be replaced as a Trustee by Martha Choe, Chief Administrative Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His legacy will live on, however, in the form of the Bill Gates Senior Prize. The first winner will be announced at the Gates Cambridge graduation dinner in 2013.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, opened the event and spoke of the uniqueness of the Scholarship because of its emphasis not just on academic excellence but on global leadership. He said: “Gates Cambridge Scholars are and will always be among our foremost contribution to the world.”
Robert Lethbridge, Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, introduced a filmed message from Bill Gates in which he praised the “exceptional people the Trustees have chosen over the years who are academically talented, socially engaged and committed to making the world a better place”.
Professor Lethbridge, who is also Master of Fitzwilliam College where the event was held, said the Scholarship was launching a new visual identity in order to raise its profile for two important reasons: firstly, so that it could continue to attract the strongest possible field of candidates; and secondly, to give Scholars and Alumni the professional recognition they deserved from “being forever Gates Cambridge scholars”.
He introduced a short film about the Scholarship, which included comments from the first Gates Cambridge Provost, Dr Gordon Johnson, and Lord Alec Broers, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge at the time the Scholarship was established in 2000.
The film included contributions from a range of Gates Cambridge Scholars and Alumni, including Alex Davies, Andra Adams, Orian Welling, Hamish Forsyth, Robyn Scott and Niraj Lal. Orian Welling said: “The Gates Cambridge community is phenomenal. It made me feel from the beginning that I was with a group of friends.”
Professor Lethbridge added: “These students are creating friendships for life. That is the basis for a real network for the future.”
He said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation could have invested its $210m in immediate life-saving projects, but it had chosen instead to invest in ideas. In choosing to fully fund postgraduate education – which was often marginalised – and in entrusting the University to select Scholars from a multi-disciplinary field, the Foundation had provided a model for future philanthropy, he said.
“Gates Cambridge Scholars will become Prime Ministers and Vice-Chancellors and will change the parameters of our knowledge,” he said.
During his after dinner speech, Bill Gates Sr added that the Scholarship was providing “the talented human beings which a world with problems requires”. “The world will be a better place due to Gates Cambridge“.