Oxford mourns the loss of Mrs Mica Ertegun, CBE

Sunday 3rd Dec 2023, 1.57pm

The Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, the Ertegun Scholars and Alumni, and the entire University of Oxford community are deeply saddened by the news that Mica Ertegun has passed away at the age of 97.

Mrs Mica Ertegun, CBEMica Ertegun was a renowned philanthropist, whose support for the study of the humanities was unparalleled. It is thanks to Mica’s vision and generosity that, in 2012, Oxford celebrated the establishment of the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities.

Mica’s gift was the largest for scholarships in the Humanities in the history of the University. It endowed in perpetuity a programme for some of the world’s most gifted humanities students, providing support for up to 20 scholars each year. Furthermore, Mica made possible the provision of a historic Oxford building as the students’ base for individual study, interdisciplinary discussion, and a range of events relating to Ertegun Scholars’ academic pursuits. Named Ertegun House, the building’s refurbishment to the highest level for innovative study was personally overseen by Mrs Ertegun, who was one of the world’s foremost interior designers of the past 50 years.

In the years following the establishment of Ertegun House, Mica was a regular and welcome visitor to Oxford, taking a close interest in the Ertegun Scholars’ programme and their progress. More than 150 of the brightest minds in the humanities, from over 35 countries, have now graduated as Ertegun Scholars, each of whom has sought to embody Mica’s original visionary mission that they: have a plan to enlarge their knowledge; have the desire to extend their vision; and seek the opportunity to exchange their ideas.

In recognition of Mrs Ertegun’s philanthropy, in 2017 she was awarded the Honorary CBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Alongside her support for Oxford, Mica was the lead donor for the restoration of the Holy Edicule at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, for which she was made Great Cross-Bearer of the Order of Orthodox Cross-Bearers of the Holy Sepulchre. Mica also funded the creation of the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Atrium at Jazz at Lincoln Centre in New York.

Mica and Ahmet Ertegun, after whom a graduate scholarship programme in Humanities at Oxford is namedMica Ertegun was the widow of Ahmet Ertegun (1923-2006), a founder of Atlantic Records and a monumental force in the music industry for decades. From the blues to jazz and rock & roll, Ahmet built an unrivalled record of identifying, nurturing and promoting artists and performers who would create music for the enjoyment and inspiration of millions of people around the world. Celebrating the centenary in 2023 of Ahmet’s birth, the Wall Street Journal paid testament to him as the “greatest record man in American history”.

At a time when many institutions faced reduced funding for the humanities, Mica chose to strengthen them, ensuring the nurturing of intellectual leaders who benefit from a rigorous grounding in the humanities’ unique perspectives, for many generations to come.

Mica will be greatly missed at Oxford, and by the Ertegun Alumni community all over the world.