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Oxford enjoys ongoing relationships with its benefactors, and will invite them to a variety of events. Major benefactors will receive invitations to project-related events, such as special lectures and opening ceremonies. In the year of their gift, it is hoped that donors may join the University at its biggest celebration, Encaenia. Oxford sporting events include the annual Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race and Varsity matches.
The University is delighted to explore ways in which it can recognise its benefactors. These may include naming opportunities on buildings, schools, libraries, institutes, chairs, posts, scholarships, plaques and rolls of honour where appropriate. The Ashmolean Museum and Bodleian Library were both named in honour of individuals whose generosity lives on. Some benefactors may wish their philanthropy to be anonymous, or may choose to honour a relative or eminent figure.
The Vice-Chancellor's Circle was launched in 2009 to recognise those individual, foundation and corporate benefactors who have provided generous support to the collegiate University. In addition to receiving regular communications from the Vice-Chancellor and other senior officers, members will be invited to special meetings of the Vice-Chancellor's Circle. These occasions will showcase the breadth of intellectual talent at Oxford and the significant contribution to society of alumni and friends. The Circle will engage members in the diverse, ever-vibrant life and work of the collegiate University.
For substantial benefactions, the Chancellor may invite the University and the Colleges' most significant supporters to become members of the prestigious Court of Benefactors. The Court meets each autumn in Oxford. This provides an opportunity for benefactors to engage with the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Heads of Colleges and senior academics, to meet with other members of the Court, and to gain a greater understanding of the life and work of the University and the Colleges.
A member of the Chancellor's Court of Benefactors may have their generosity to the Collegiate University honoured by the engraving of their name in the Clarendon Arch, near the entrance to the historic Bodleian Library. Names alread inscribed include such historic benefactors to Oxford as Sir Thomas Bodley, Queen Elizabeth I, John Radcliffe, King Henry VIII, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, Queen Elizabeth II, and Cecil Rhodes.
The highest honour the University of Oxford can bestow is the Sheldon Medal, reserved for an individual benefactor who has made a strategic difference to the life of the University. The Medal is named after one of Oxford's early benefactors, Gilbert Sheldon, who graduated from Oxford in 1620. It may only be awarded to one person each year, and is restricted to members of the Chancellor's Court of Benefactors. The presentation of the Medal is made by the Chancellor in Oxford's historic Sheldonian Theatre.