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29 February 2012 3,701 views 3 Comments

At a press conference in London today, it was announced that Oxford University has been given one its biggest ever donation after £26million was handed over to create scholarships for humanities students. The donation, made by Mica Ertegun, widow of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, is understood to be one of the largest in Oxford’s 900-year history.

It will be used to set up the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities.

Ahmet Ertegun died in 2006 and the next year Led Zeppelin reformed to play the now famous concert in his honour. Some of the proceeds went to Ertegun’s alma mater, St John’s in Annapolis in Maryland, and some went to Oxford. That was the start of a relationship between the English university and Mica Ertegun.

“We just kept in contact and I thought the money should stay here,” she said. “Ahmet was highly educated, he went to a college where you really had to read everything and his passion was music.”

At the event announcing the donation today, it was revealed that Led Zeppelin’s 2007 comeback concert at the 02 in Greenwich, London, had helped lead to the creation of the Ertegun Scholarships. As the gift was announced, guests included John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin’s bass player, who said Ertegun was both terrifically erudite and “more rock’n’roll than all of us put together. He was an inspiration to us and he was an innovator”.

Jones admitted his memory of the 2007  renion was “a bit of a blur.” He told the Guardian: “We got through it. It wasn’t just about playing the songs again, it had to sound as if we’d just come off a two-year tour and perform them to a particular degree. It took quite a lot of psyching up and an awful lot of rehearsal – about two months – and for this to come out of it makes it even more worth it. It’s really gratifying.”

The money will create an initial 15 Mica and Ahmet Ertegun scholarships a year and will eventually be endowed to award an annual total of 35. They will come with exclusive use of an extremely nice five-storey Georgian house on St Giles in Oxford.

Mrs Ertegun described her reasons for funding the humanities scholarships: “For Ahmet and for me, one of the great joys of life has been the study of history, music, languages, literature, art and archaeology.

“In these times, when there is so much strife in the world, I believe it is tremendously important to support those things that endure across time.”

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  • Greg Purling said:

    Typical of Zeppelin (and also fitting) that they are associated here with both the biggest and best.

  • andrew R said:

    the further and further we get from the o2 concert the more amazing it seems in retrospect.To hear JPJ say”off the back of a 2 year tour” makes you realise the level of commitment they put into the project and conversely how crushed Jimmy must have been to realise it was a one off.

  • Byron Lewis said:

    Can’t help thinking how many more scholarships could be created on the back of a tribute DVD of the event being available.

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