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New Hall Becomes Murray Edwards College

[New Hall, Cambridge] — New or newly-refounded residential colleges don’t appear at Oxford or Cambridge very often, so it’s certainly worth taking note of the refounding and renaming of New Hall, Cambridge, this month, as Murray Edwards College.

New Hall, which was founded in 1954, is not to be confused with Newnham College at Cambridge (founded in 1871), nor with New College at Oxford (founded in 1379). New Hall occupies the site of an ancient Roman settlement near the center of Cambridge, and today counts about 50 fellows and 430 undergraduates and graduate students among its members. It was established as the third women’s college at Cambridge, “at a time when Cambridge had the lowest proportion of women undergraduates of any university in the UK. Up to that time there were only two colleges that could accept women, Girton and Newnham, both founded in the late nineteenth century.”

Operating for five decades without a significant endowment, New Hall has sought to put itself on a firm financial footing in the last few years through a 50th-anniversary fundraising campaign, and this week that campaign announced a gift of £30 million from software entrepreneur Steve Edwards and New Hall alumna Ros Smith, and along with the gift the formal refounding and renaming of the Hall as Murray Edwards College, after Edwards and Dame Rosemary Murray, New Hall’s first president and the first female vice chancellor of the university.

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