Shield logo

1869 Fellow Benefactors

In connection with the 150th Anniversary Campaign, the College may appoint benefactors of exceptional munificence as 1869 Fellow Benefactors.

Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE (Natural Sciences, SPS and Management 1971) and his wife Julia made gifts of over £2 million to support the College’s new Library & IT Centre – which is known as 'The Olisa Library'. Ken started his career with IBM and Wang before setting up listed technology merchant bank Interregnum and – more recently – Restoration Partners. 

Ken served as the first British-born black director of a FTSE-100 company (Reuters) and on the Boards of major companies including Open Text, ENRC, Huawei (UK) and Interswitch. His charitable passions include President of London homeless charity Thames Reach (for which he received an OBE), Chair of welfare to work charity Shaw Trust, and founding Chair of the Aleto Foundation, which supports future leaders from tough reality backgrounds.

His wider public service roles have included inaugural membership of the Postal Services Commission and the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. In 2015 Her Majesty the Queen appointed Ken as her Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London. He was knighted in the 2018 New Year’s Honours for services to business and philanthropy.

Lady Julia Olisa is an alumna of Homerton (1971) and Newnham (1974) Colleges, where she studied Education. She has a Masters degree in Educational Psychology (London), and a Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties (Kingston).

Early in her career, Julia specialised in the field of dyslexia, working across the primary and secondary school sectors. At London University’s Institute of Education, she assessed and supported dyslexic students, trained teachers, and was a member of teams researching aspects of early literacy development.

Since 2006, Julia has run a literacy service for users of the homelessness charity Thames Reach. The provision of support for adults with inadequate reading and writing skills across the whole sector is inadequate. In recognition of this need, Julia and colleagues from Crisis set up a charitable trust in 2019, Literacy100, to share and promote good practice throughout the UK. This is now the focus of her professional life.

Peter Selman (Economics 1991) made a gift of £1 million, split between bursaries to support undergraduates of limited means who might otherwise be discouraged from applying to the University, and teaching in Economics. Peter, who is based in New York, made the gift through the donor-advised fund.

Chris Xie (Engineering 2006) donated US $1.4 million in 2016, the majority of which was allocated to support Engineering students through the Fitzwilliam Engineers' Fund. The remainder was allocated towards general College use. After working in high frequency trading in London, Chris established hedge fund TianYan Capital in Shanghai.