Millionaire slams ‘pedantic and ineffective’ Covid-19 policies still in effect at the college
The UK’s Durham University has lost its biggest individual donor, multimillionaire Mark Hillery, who pulled his financial support over Covid-19 rules he slammed as “ridiculous.”
A former hedge fund manager and university alumnus, Hillery donated almost £7m to the university’s Collingwood College between 2015 and 2021. He has funded a number of facilities, including a new arts center that bears his name, according to the student newspaper Palatinate, which was the first to reveal Hillery’s decision to withdraw his support.
The alumnus has actively supported the university for more than 20 years, hosting various events, and even sometimes paying for the students’ drinks in a college bar. He expressed deep regret over what he called “This is a depressing situation.”
In an interview with Palatinate he revealed that, prior to his decision to “Step back,” he several times contacted the university to express his disagreement over the anti-Covid measures. However, this year the university chose to adopt policies which he said were even stricter than the government’s, including a temporary return to online teaching and face-mask mandates.
“For normalization to be complete, there should have been urgency [the university]to be in the same position as other members of society.” Hillery said.
He complained that the same “Pedantic, ineffective and inefficient policies which place paying students’ priorities at the bottom are just continued and improved,” adding that he would not visit Durham again “Students are not subject to any Covid-related rules..”
Hillery, who is worth a reported £165 million and ranks 743rd on the Sunday Times Rich List 2020, did not rule out that in the future he might resume his support, underlining, however, that “it’s all far too little too late.”
The university expressed gratitude for Hillery’s “Support for many different initiatives” but said that the health and safety of its students and staff have always been a priority.
“Our guidance was always provided by the global trajectory of pandemics, which changed at different points in the UK.” a spokesperson added.
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