Now Reading
$233 million gift from philanthropist Stephen A. Schwarzman to build new institute for ethics in AI at university by 2025
Dark Light

$233 million gift from philanthropist Stephen A. Schwarzman to build new institute for ethics in AI at university by 2025

A new humanities facility, located in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter along Woodstock Road in Oxford, will join the faculty buildings of Oxford University.

The Schwarzman Center, which will open in 2025, will house the Institute for Ethics in AI and the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre.

This new facility’s move to the University has been made possible by a $233 million donation by the center’s eponymous benefactor Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, as well as short-time chairman of President Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

The Centre will consist of a 500-seat concert hall, a 250-seat theatre, a 100-seat ‘black box’ laboratory for experimental performance, a café and a new library. It promises to “encourage experiential learning and bold experimentation through cross-disciplinary and collaborative study.”

In order to comply with the University’s aim to halve carbon emissions by 2030, the building’s construction will adhere to Passivhaus principles, including the use of solar power generation on the roof and high levels of insulation to reduce the heat needed in the building.

Professor Daniel Grimley, head of the humanities division at Oxford, told Cherwell: “It will be a place to share knowledge and ideas, attend events of a varied nature, and ultimately to find innovative answers to the fundamental question of what it means to be human in an increasingly complex world.”

As well as housing seven humanities faculties, this facility will now host the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre. It will be moving to the University from its previous host, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, after having been awarded extension funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The centre was created in 2019 to “enhance public understanding of modern slavery and transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to address it.”

Professor Grimley told Cherwell: “Working in this innovative manner has helped the centre to influence decision-making at a regional, national, and global level.” The recent example he cited was its work in support of the Global Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, chaired by Theresa May, “for which researchers gave evidence at Parliamentary groups, and showed how human and evidence-led research can improve the world in tangible ways.”

The Schwarzman Centre will also be home to Oxford’s new institute for Ethics in AI. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web, has remarked: “If AI is to benefit humanity we must understand its moral and ethical implications. Oxford with its rich history in humanities and philosophy is ideally placed to do this.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Irene Tracey has highlighted the promise that the Centre holds to “benefit teaching and research in the humanities” and “to be a place which makes a genuine contribution to the local community in Oxford as well as the national and global cultural sector.”

Stephen A. Schwarzman is Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Blackstone, one of the world’s largest alternative investment firms with over $1 trillion Assets Under Management (as of March 31, 2024). Mr. Schwarzman has been involved in all phases of Blackstone’s development since its founding in 1985. The firm has established leading investing businesses across asset classes, including private equity, where it is a global leader in traditional buyout, growth equity, special situations and secondary investing; real estate, where it is currently the largest owner of commercial property in the world; multi-asset investing, where it is the world’s largest discretionary allocator to hedge funds; and credit, where it is a global leader and major provider of credit for companies of all sizes. Blackstone also has major businesses dedicated to infrastructure and life sciences investing, as well as delivering the firm’s investment management expertise and products to insurance companies.

Mr. Schwarzman is an active philanthropist with a history of supporting education, as well as culture and the arts, among other things. In 2020, he signed The Giving Pledge, committing to give the majority of his wealth to philanthropic causes. In both business and philanthropy, Mr. Schwarzman has dedicated himself to tackling big problems with transformative solutions. In June 2019, he donated £150 million to the University of Oxford to help redefine the study of the humanities for the 21st century. His gift – the largest single donation to Oxford since the renaissance – will create a new Centre for the Humanities which unites all humanities faculties under one roof for the first time in Oxford’s history, and will offer new performing arts and exhibition venues as well as a new Institute for Ethics in AI. In October 2018, he announced a foundational $350 million gift to establish the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, an interdisciplinary hub which will reorient MIT to address the opportunities and challenges presented by the rise of artificial intelligence, including critical ethical and policy considerations to ensure that the technologies are employed for the common good. In 2015, Mr. Schwarzman donated $150 million to Yale University to establish the Schwarzman Center, a first-of-its-kind campus center in Yale’s historic “Commons” building, and also gave a founding gift of $40 million to the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which provides tuition assistance to underprivileged children attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York. In 2013, he founded an international scholarship program, “Schwarzman Scholars,” at Tsinghua University in Beijing to educate future leaders about China. At over $575 million, the program is modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship and is the single largest philanthropic effort in China’s history coming largely from international donors. Mr. Schwarzman is Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees of Schwarzman Scholars. In 2007, Mr. Schwarzman donated $100 million to the New York Public Library on whose board he serves.

In 2019, Schwarzman published his first book What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, a New York Times Best Seller which draws from his experiences in business, philanthropy and public service.

Mr. Schwarzman is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations, The Business Council, The Business Roundtable, and The International Business Council of the World Economic Forum. He is a former co-chair of the Partnership for New York City and serves on the boards of The Asia Society and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, as well as on The Advisory Board of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is a Trustee of The Frick Collection in New York City and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2007, Mr. Schwarzman was included in TIME’s “100 Most Influential People.”

In 2016, he topped Forbes Magazine’s list of the most influential people in finance and in 2018 was ranked in the Top 50 on Forbes’ list of the “World’s Most Powerful People.” In 2019, he was named one of Barron’s “World’s Best CEOs.” The Republic of France has awarded Mr. Schwarzman both the Légion d’Honneur and the Ordre des Arts et des Letters at the Commandeur level.

Mr. Schwarzman is one of the only Americans to receive both awards recognizing significant contributions to France. He was also awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle, Mexico’s highest honor for foreigners, for his work on behalf of the U.S. in support of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 2018. Also, at the University of Oxford, Mr. Schwarzman was elected a Wykeham Fellow at New College in 2021 and a Waynflete Fellow at Magdalen College in 2023. In 2024, Mr. Schwarzman was appointed as an Honorary Knight of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) in recognition of his services to philanthropy.

Mr. Schwarzman holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

He has served as an adjunct professor at the Yale School of Management and on the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors.

© 2024 Lifestyles Magazine International. All Rights Reserved.