Harpenden widow makes generous donation to university

University of Hertfordshire Engineering School tour for the Calder family.
Picture: Pete Stevens

University of Hertfordshire Engineering School tour for the Calder family. Picture: Pete Stevens - Credit: Pete Stevens - CreativeEmpathy.com

The widow of a University of Hertfordshire alumnus who used to work in Harpenden has made a generous donation to the university.

Libby Calder with vice-chancellor Quintin McKellar.
Picture: Pete Stevens

Libby Calder with vice-chancellor Quintin McKellar. Picture: Pete Stevens - Credit: Pete Stevens - CreativeEmpathy.com

Libby Calder made a donation to the university’s school of engineering and technology in memory of her husband Duncan Calder, who died in 2015. She visited the university with her family and friends on Thursday, April 13 to see first-hand how the money is being used.

Duncan attended the university’s predecessor, Hatfield Technical College, from 1953 to 1954, after joining the de Havilland Aircraft Company. After working for a St Albans-based photography firm, he went on to found a manufacturing company in 1972 in Harpenden, where he lived with his family, producing machines for the photographic and film industry.

Libby’s donation will be used to fund two PhD scholarships within the school of engineering and techology, starting in autumn 2017. The school will also be able to purchase new equipment to enhance the school’s operational management laboratory, and at least half of the donation will be used to enhance the school’s facilities, funding new research equipment and capital developments.

During Libby’s visit, she was given a tour of the engineering and technology department with academics, followed by lunch in the governor’s suite hosted by vice-chancellor Quintin McKellar.


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Professor McKellar said: “Libby’s hugely generous donation in the name of her husband is, first and foremost, an immensely touching testament to the legacy and success of Duncan’s life and career.

“It also provides the university with a fantastic opportunity to carry on that legacy by using this substantial gift to create the next generation of scientists and engineers from Hertfordshire and beyond.”

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Duncan retired in 2003, at the age of 68, and spent the last years of his life living with his wife in Hertfordshire and Suffolk, where they also had a home.

Harriet Bayliss, head of development and alumni relations at the university, said: “Duncan Calder was a private man and throughout his life and career did not overly promote himself or his business successes.

“He only came to the university’s attention in 2016 when we were contacted by Libby in relation to the donation. This no doubt shows the man’s modesty despite all his success.

“The donation is a testament to his and his family’s generosity and a fitting memory. We at the university are extremely thankful to them both.”

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