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Sir David Harrison Fund

A sequence of images demonstrating Sir David unveiling his portrait in the Harrison Room.
Sir David Harrison unveiling his plaque at the newly renamed Harrison Room (formerly the New SCR), in May 2021.

Teaching is at the heart of what we do as a college. There is nothing more important than instilling the next generation with the learning that they need. We are now launching a major initiative to support Selwyn’s teaching in the sciences, as part of our tribute to our late master Sir David Harrison – and recognising that this is an area in which we now need specific investment.

Sir David Harrison had a remarkable association with Selwyn College, which lasted almost 73 years from his arrival as an undergraduate in 1950 until his death in March 2023. He became a fellow in 1957 and saw him serve the college as a tutor, senior tutor and, from 1994 – 2000, as master.

Sir David at Selwyn

As a teacher and a distinguished leader in his chosen field of Chemical Engineering, Sir David was passionate about science and education. He would advise any gifted science student to keep an open mind about their ultimate speciality and encourage them to simply enjoy the unique and flexible structure of the Natural Science tripos at Cambridge, a philosophy we continue to promote today.

As admissions tutor and master he opened Selwyn’s doors to generations of students and, as senior tutor, he oversaw the process which welcomed the first female students here in 1976.

Sir David Harrison with Cleo the camel, who visited Selwyn in 1999.
A much-loved image of Sir David Harrison next to "Cleo the Camel" in 1999. Cleo was visiting Selwyn as part of a sponsored walk organised by Dr Graham Kings SE1979 (far left) and Professor Joseph Galgalo SE1997 (centre).

Science at Selwyn

It’s impressive to note that the Royal Society, the Royal Institution and the Institution of Chemical Engineers are currently led by Selwyn alumni (Sir Adrian Smith, SE 1965, Katherine Mathieson, SE 1993 and Nigel Hirst, SE 1974), products of the unique Cambridge supervision system and a thriving scientific community.

Each year, the college welcomes between 20 and 25 new NatSci undergraduates, alongside a growing group of postgraduate researchers. They are supported by a wide range of teaching fellows, with expertise covering all the major subject areas.

A Natural Sciences supervision in the Harrison Room, led by Dr Daniel Beauregard.

A Natural Sciences supervision in the Harrison Room, led by Dr Daniel Beauregard.

The Sir David Harrison Fund: supporting science at Selwyn

The Sir David Harrison Fund will support the teaching and learning of science, including Maths and Engineering, in a number of ways:

£1M will endow a teaching post in science at Selwyn ‘The Sir David Harrison Fellow’. We are delighted that over £250,000 has already been raised for this important provision.

£30,000 could cover the costs of the fees for a UK PhD student studying Chemical Engineering or similar.

£16,500 could cover the fees for a UK MPhil student in advanced Chemical Engineering or similar.

£1,750 could provide a full Cambridge bursary for UK science undergraduates from low-income backgrounds.

A matriculation photo from 1976, the first year that women were part of the intake.
The 1976 matriculant year group,  with Selwyn College's first intake of female students.

How to make your gift

You can make your gift online via credit or debit card here and further information about other ways to give (cheque, bank transfer etc.) can be found here.

All donations from UK taxpayers will normally qualify for Gift Aid, and there are tax-efficient ways to donate from outside the UK. Donations may be spread over a number of years and organised via Direct Debit.

Donate Now

The Sir David Harrison Fund received a foundation gift in the form of a generous legacy from David himself. As it is the college’s intention for the fund to be permanent, we would be pleased to discuss ways in which your legacy might also support science at Selwyn in the future. Please contact Sam Davis, major gifts and legacies manager at or +44 (0) 1223 767845.

If you would like to discuss naming a fellowship at Selwyn or any other matter relating to the Sir David Harrison Fund, please contact Mike Nicholson, development director, at or +44 (0) 1223 330403.

Sir David in a study. He is laughing.