Record-breaking donation by Wadham alumnus secures a bright future for Rhodes Scholars

19th September 2013

News, Alumni news

Wadham College is proud to announce that our alumnus and benefactor, John McCall MacBain (Law, 1980), has confirmed a donation of £75 million towards the future expansion of the world’s most prestigious international graduate scholarship programme, the Rhodes Scholarships.

  • John McCall MacBain

    John McCall MacBain at the opening of the Wadham's McCall MacBain Graduate Centre

  • John and Marcy McCall MacBain at Rhodes House
    John and Marcy McCall MacBain at Rhodes House
  • (l-r) Marcy McCall MacBain, Barbara Romig, Baroness Williams of Crosby, John McCall MacBain

Wadham College is proud to announce that our alumnus and benefactor, John McCall MacBain (Law, 1980), has confirmed a donation of £75 million towards the future expansion of the world’s most prestigious international graduate scholarship programme, the Rhodes Scholarships.

The gift, the largest since Cecil Rhodes’ establishment of the Scholarship in 1903, comes from The McCall MacBain Foundation, a grant-making organisation established by John and Marcy McCall MacBain. The McCall MacBain Foundation generously funded Wadham’s state of the art Graduate Centre which opened in October 2012.

Speaking to over 500 Rhodes Scholars at the 110th Anniversary of the Scholarship in Oxford today, Thursday 19 October, John McCall MacBain said: “Receiving the Rhodes Scholarship and attending Oxford were among the highlights of my life.  These Scholarships have been helping develop future leaders for over a century.  With the world facing ever-increasing challenges, the need to help develop leadership skills is more important than ever.  I hope that this gift will help secure them for another 100 years.” The “Campaign for the Second Century” launched at this 110th Anniversary aims to raise £110 million.

The Rhodes Scholarship programme has sent Bill Clinton, six Commonwealth Prime Ministers, three Nobel prize winners and nearly 8,000 young leaders from around the world to the University of Oxford.

The gift, the largest since the establishment of the Scholarship in 1903, will enable the Trust to continue to send future global leaders to the University of Oxford.  It consists of a £25 million grant, a £25 million challenge/match donation to encourage additional fundraising for a total of £50 million, and a future £25 million to expand the Scholarships into new geographies. 

In recognition of the transformative nature of the gift - this is the largest donation by a Canadian to scholarships - John McCall MacBain will be named a Second Century Founder of the Rhodes Trust and the Rhodes Scholarships.  He also serves as a Rhodes Trustee and as Chair of the 110th Rhodes Anniversary.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I welcome this donation to ensure that Rhodes Scholarships will flourish long into the future.  It is great news for the UK and our world class higher education system that such a prestigious programme looks set to be secured for the long term.” 

Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: “For over a century, the Rhodes Trust has played an integral part in the life of the University.  Indeed, it is hard to imagine the one existing without the other.  I am absolutely delighted that the McCall MacBain Foundation has taken this step to ensure the future health of the Rhodes Trust with its magnificent donation.  The University will add further support and plans to work with the Trust to help it raise matching funding for the challenge posed by this grant.”

Wadham’s Warden, Ken Macdonald QC, commented: “We are delighted by this news. John and Marcy’s generous support of Wadham has already struck a new light for Wadham’s graduate community with the new McCall MacBain Graduate Centre, and this latest incredible gift will have an impact on future graduate students across the whole University. We look forward to welcoming many more Rhodes Scholars to Wadham in the future.”

The McCall MacBain Graduate Centre is a dedicated facility for Wadham’s graduate students, providing modern, year-round, centrally-located study space to both taught and research students, as well as a social environment to which all MCR members gravitate.

View pictures from the Rhodes 110th Anniversary event

John McCall MacBain and the McCall MacBain Foundation

John McCall MacBain is the Founder and a Director of the McCall MacBain Foundation and its investment arm, Pamoja Capital SA.  The McCall MacBain Foundation is a grant-making organization set up by John and his wife, Marcy McCall MacBain.  Since 2007, the Foundation has granted over £100 million to health, education and environment projects in Canada, Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. 

The McCall MacBain Foundation has committed over £100 million to charitable causes since 2007.  These have included focused grants in education, health and the environment.

From 1987 to 2006, John was the Founder, President and CEO of Trader Classified Media, the world’s leading classified advertising company.  Starting with three small publications in Montreal, he developed the classified businesses across Canada and in 20 other countries.  Trader Classifed Media owned the Trading Post titles in Australia until 2004 and the Auto Trader, and Buy & Sell titles in most of Canada until 2006.

John is a Rhodes Scholar (Québec and Wadham, 1980) and holds a law degree from Oxford University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, an Honours BA in Economics from McGill University, and an LLD from Dalhousie and Brock Universities in Canada.  He was President of the Students’ Society of McGill University, and valedictorian at McGill.  At Oxford, he was co-captain of the Varsity-winning ice hockey team.