Businessman gifts his former university £2.5m

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LEEDS University has received one of its largest ever donations from an American-based graduate who says he hopes the money will help it become one of the top 50 higher educations institutions in the world.

The $4m gift – worth around £2.5m – will create an endowed fellowship programme aimed at attracting top national and international scholars to come to Leeds to carry out ground-breaking research.

The donation has been made by former co-president of global giant Mars Inc, Peter Cheney, and his wife Susan.

The 66-year-old earned a degree in bacteriology and biology from the university more than 40 years ago before going on to become a successful scientist and business leader.

He said: “To be blunt, I would not have been able to achieve what I have had I not gone to Leeds.”

Mr Cheney said he hoped the funding would enable the university to attract the very best scholars, both from the UK and overseas.

He added: “I know through my own experience the transformative difference that Leeds University can bring to a person’s life.

“Hopefully through these fellowships we can give exceptionally talented people the opportunity for a period of intense and creative research and study.”

He told the Yorkshire Post he decided to make the donation because he wanted to give something back and was impressed by the university’s vice chancellor Prof Michael Arthur’s vision of a top 50 world ranking.