Linacre College, of Oxford University, has said that it plans to change its name to Thao College after the Vietnamese SOVICO Group agreed to donate £155 million to the college. The SOVICO Group’s current Chairwomen is Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo.
Linacre College has been, since its establishment in 1962, named for Thomas Linacre, a scholar, physician, priest, and graduate of Oxford University who helped to establish the Royal College of Physicians in 1518. The college’s website contains a quote which describes Linacre thusly “he was, in his own time, reckoned by the best judges a man of a bright genius and a clear understanding, as well as of unusual knowledge in different parts of learning; and his works….. will fully satisfy us that he deserved this character. He was one, who, both living and dead, by his writings and benefactions, has done great honour not only to his profession but also to his country.”
Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo is a self-made billionaire with an estimated net worth of nearly 3 billion dollars. She heads the budget airline VietJet, and she was listed as the 52nd most powerful women in the world on Forbes’ 2019 ranking of the world’s most powerful women.
The college, which described the donation as “transformative” says that “We have long been one of the least well-endowed colleges at the University, so we are delighted that a significant part of the donation will be for our general endowment fund, to help support the daily running of College.”
The College says that they will request the name change after they receive the first £50 million of the donation.