Durham alumnus Sir Peter Ogden makes £3.35m donation to former university

Multi-million pound gift, the largest in The Ogden Trust's history, will help support a £10m landmark physics building at Durham University

A £3M boost has helped push forward plans for a £10m landmark research centre in Durham.

Physics alumnus and entrepreneur Sir Peter Ogden, Chairman of The Ogden Trust, has donated £3.35m towards a new building to house Durham University’s Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics

The gift is the largest single donation in The Ogden Trust’s history, and today’s signing comes at the same time that Durham University has been named by Thomson-Reuters as number one in Europe and joint-sixth in the world for research citations in Space Science.

Sir Peter has been a long-time supporter of physics research at Durham University and his Trust promotes the teaching and learning of the subject to schoolchildren and undergraduates who want to teach physics.

Sir Peter, who graduated from Durham in 1968 with a degree in Physics and a PhD in Theoretical Physics in 1971, lends his name to the original Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics which opened in 2002 , thanks to an earlier £2m gift from The Ogden Trust.

Sir Peter Ogden said: “This is the largest single donation in The Ogden Trust’s history, which indicates the importance of the relationship which it has developed with Durham University’s Department of Physics over the last decade.

“It is also testament to the depth and strength of the research into Fundamental Physics at Durham led by Professor Carlos Frenk and his colleagues.”

Professor Chris Higgins, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, joined Sir Peter in signing the gift agreement at the university’s St Mary’s College.

He said: “Durham is truly a world leader in physics research and teaching and this exceptionally generous gift from The Ogden Trust, and the wonderful support of The Wolfson Foundation and our alumni, will ensure that we can create a prestigious development to help keep us at the forefront of international physics research for many years to come.”

The current centre houses two prestigious institutes, the Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC), one of the world’s premier theoretical cosmology groups, and the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP), the only one of its kind in the world.

The new building is now a top priority because of the Institutes’ rapid growth and academic success, and a further £1.5m towards the development has been awarded by the Wolfson Foundation.

Professor Carlos Frenk, Ogden Professor of Fundamental Physics and Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, said: “The two Ogden Centre institutes tackle some of the most exciting questions in modern science such as how did our universe begin; what is it made of; and what is its future? “The new building is just what we need to ensure Durham stays at the forefront of this exciting science.”

The planned development will be built next to the current Physics department on South Road, Durham. The world-renowned architectural practice, Studio Daniel Libeskind - which designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the master plan for Ground Zero in New York - is designing the new building.

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