Giving Back

We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our alumni community. Your donations of time and money help us to conduct vital research and support students from all backgrounds to achieve their potential. We asked a few alumni what inspires them to get involved.

Ruth Briggs (Biology and Geography, 1976) has been supporting Exeter for more than 20 years. She has given her time to support students as a career mentor, and made regular donations to the Alumni Annual Fund to support student societies and academic projects.

“Looking back I see ever more clearly the importance to me of my time as an undergraduate at Exeter. Those three formative years gave me: the start to my career (in nature conservation and natural heritage policy and advice); the start of lasting friendships (still strong after four decades); and the start of independent life away from my original home. To me, it’s therefore a no-brainer to want to contribute some of the money and time I now have available to the continuation of those opportunities for next generations.

“I have great conversations with my mentees! I am excited by their enthusiasm, their willingness to discuss their ideas with me, the honesty of their opinions and questions, their commitment and determination to succeed. I really hope I’m helping them to formulate ideas, and gain confidence and some insight into career opportunities and what employers look for. For myself it’s a privilege to try to contribute a little to their skills development and fantastic (and nostalgic) to sometimes revisit the university, with purpose, and imagine myself still as part of the wider Exeter ‘family’.”

Dominic Scriven OBE (Sociology and Law, 1985) has funded two research posts at the University of Exeter. His first donation funded a Research Fellowship investigating the main challenges and possible solutions in incorporating ecosystem services in business decision making. Dominic’s second project expands on this topic further, creating the Dragon Capital Chair in Biodiversity Economics, a Professorship that will address the central question of how individuals and organisations value natural resources.

“I’ve been interested in conservation for as long as I can remember and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to explore many different areas including protection of habitat, illegal wildlife trade, rewilding, and conserving endangered species.

“As an alum I have an existing relationship with Exeter but it was really the quality of the research that encouraged me to donate. It focuses on real world applications and impact, and Professor Ian Bateman, who leads LEEP (Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute) inspires confidence. I have a chance to make a difference through supporting research and I am excited about the future of our latest project.”

John Gilbert (Economics, 1972) has supported Exeter sport for more than 15 years, helping to organise events as well as donating to sports auctions and fundraising. In addition John is a member of the Alumni Network Group (ANG), working with senior management to help build strong alumni relationships with the university.

“My experience at Exeter had an impact on my keenness to give back. It’s a special place and I have great memories of my time there. I made friendships playing sport that continued long after graduation, initially through cricket and football but later more focused on golf.

“Helping to establish the Exeter University Alumni Golf Society (EUAGS) was a highlight. The activities we run throughout the year and the fundraising that takes place has played a part in Exeter becoming one of the top universities for golf. It’s incredibly satisfying to see world-class students go on to great things and it makes me want to continue to work on bringing new facilities to the club.

“Being part of the ANG has also given me the chance to highlight the importance of sport, and alumni involvement in sport, at a strategic level. I find the whole experience very rewarding.”

Vanessa Rowan Johnstone (Economics and Agricultural Economics, 1991) supports a PhD researcher at the University of Exeter. The studentship funds research into building resilience in UK agriculture.

“Exeter was one of the best chapters in my life. I made some of my best friends, I learned so much, and I had an enormous amount of fun. My experience of Exeter was that it let me shine beyond the academic arena. I’ve no doubt I benefited from the standard of education, but it was also the other opportunities - the societies and the social activities – that helped me throughout my life.

“I feel like when you are in the fortunate position of being able to help someone else achieve their goals, you should embrace that opportunity.

"There are so many young people with the ideas, the talent and the determination to succeed, and a little support is all they need to kick-start their journey. If everyone who can, gave back to just one student, then the world would be a better place!

“I was keen to support a project where I would be able to see real-world impact and this is an area I’m particularly interested in. To any alumni thinking about supporting current students, I’d say to think about your interests and what you want to achieve. There will almost certainly be a project that needs your support and will bring you great satisfaction.”

Archit Garg (MSc International Management, 2014) won the Nicholas Bull Award for the Exceptional Support of the Alumni Community at the 2019 Alumni Volunteer Awards. He supports both the MSc International Management cohort across the world and the wider alumni community in India. Archit is also the Chair of the newly established India Exeter Alumni Association (IEAA).

“Associating with the University has been a wonderful learning experience for me. I enjoy liaising with local alumni, helping to arrange business and social events and answering the queries/questions of prospective students. I try to engage with each alum on a personal basis whether they are based in India or abroad.”