Pembroke College receives transformative £35m pledge

by Sally March
Ray Dolby

Dr Ray Dolby (1957)

Yesterday evening, at the Cambridge University “Dear World…” Campaign launch in San Francisco, we were able to announce an extraordinary gift that has been pledged here to Pembroke.

One of our most distinguished alumni was Ray Dolby, who came to Pembroke in 1957 for a PhD in the Cavendish Laboratory Electron Microscope Group, where he worked on microanalysis using secondary X-rays. His research at Cambridge, coupled with his interest in music recording, led him eventually to develop a revolutionary audio noise reduction system that has transformed listening quality across the world ever since.

Ray had huge affection for Pembroke; and Dagmar, Ray’s widow, together with her family, has made an astonishing gift of £35m to Pembroke. It is the largest gift ever made to a Cambridge or Oxford college, and it will help not only to transform Pembroke, but also the lives of generations of students to come. This gift is the culmination of discussions over recent years about Pembroke’s future, led by my predecessor Sir Richard Dearlove.

Our hope is to use this extraordinary gift to help us to achieve our vision of an enlarged and enhanced college. Pembroke and the University are working closely together to draw up an agreement for the development of the historic Mill Lane site, immediately beside the College, and leading down almost to the river.

This gift gives us the chance to fulfil this dream: to create new teaching, research and seminar spaces; to build a new Ray and Dagmar Dolby Court of graduate and undergraduate accommodation; to make the biggest change to our College in 650 years; to bring students, Fellows, alumni, Pembroke Circle members and other partners together; and to enhance the contribution we can make to the life of the University and of Cambridge as a whole.

Most important, though, will be the impact on our future students, both graduates and undergraduates: enlarging and enhancing the chance to learn, to discuss, to discover, to create, to explore ideas, to find inspiration, and to go out to change the world. Just like Ray Dolby himself did.

The College is exceedingly grateful to the Dolby family and our challenge will be to build on their generosity to ensure that the whole project, estimated to cost circa £75m, can be completed.

Lord Chris Smith
Pembroke College, Cambridge

Ray Dolby (1933-2013)