New Development Director

Tuesday, 22 November, 2016 - 11:30
Dr Nicola Jones

Dr Nicola Jones joined Fitzwilliam College as Development Director in September, taking over from Dr Helen Bettinson.

Nicola was previously Deputy Development Director at Robinson College and a Major Gifts fundraiser at Pembroke College, so she knows the Cambridge fundraising world well.

Nicola arrived in Cambridge as an undergraduate (Christ's 1999), reading French and Italian, and then completed an MPhil in European Literature and a PhD in Medieval French and Italian at Corpus Christi. In 2008 she was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at Emmanuel College, where she studied medieval philanthropic investment in the arts and taught a wide range of undergraduates.

In 2009, she changed direction from academia to fundraising, and explains the powerful motivation behind her decision.

‘I decided to change careers (from academia to fundraising) based on a single supervision in 2009. I was teaching a ‘sample’ lesson on Dante to three Sutton Trust UK Summer School Programme students, and one asked me a simple question: “Do you really think that someone like me can actually afford to come here?”’

‘In my naivety I reassured her, and brushed off her concerns with a cursory description of student loans. She smiled back, but was noticeably quieter for the rest of the conversation. Later, during lunch, I overheard her telling a friend that “coming here somehow makes it worse, seeing what you can’t have.”’ 

‘That upset me, and it still does. With the guarantee of appropriate financial support, that student might have seen things differently; she might have applied.’

When Nicola finished her research fellowship, she decided that she wanted to contribute directly to helping people like that student.

‘And now, with the support of alumni, I do. I take a lot of heart from the fact that Fitzwilliam House was founded upon the belief of education for all. That sense of fairness and opportunity is built into the foundations of the College and I’m very proud to be working here.’

With the ‘150th Anniversary Campaign’ currently standing at £17m, Nicola joins Fitzwilliam with £3 million left to raise to reach the 2019 campaign target.

Master of Fitzwilliam, Nicky Padfield said: ‘We have been delighted to welcome Nicola to Fitzwilliam, and are confident that she will build brilliantly on the fundraising successes of her predecessors.  A ‘poor’ college like Fitzwilliam, with a relatively small endowment, needs to work extra hard at fundraising to be able to fulfil its mission. We are committed to providing an excellent education and wide extra-curricular opportunities for the wonderfully talented undergraduate and postgraduate students who choose to come here.’