On 17 May 2017 we were delighted to welcome to Balliol trustees of the Keasbey Memorial Foundation, which has been supporting Balliol students for more than fifty years.
The foundation was established in the 1950s by Miss Marguerite A. Keasbey in honour of her father and mother. Though living in America, she and her widowed father spent a great deal of time in England before and after the First World War, and she became particularly interested in the quality of British education. She decided to provide scholarships for both British school students and graduating American college students, so that they could pursue degrees in Britain and experience fully the life of the British college system and university. Balliol was fortunate to become one of the UK colleges and universities to whom the foundation became connected.
Over the years Balliol has admitted many Keasbey Scholars as postgraduate students. The foundation defines these scholars as having in common with each other ‘academic excellence, the desire to embrace college and university life in the UK, and the ability to serve as ambassadors who promote better Anglo-American, and indeed global, relations’; they are selected from US academic institutions of the highest academic standing.
In addition, annual grants from the foundation have allowed Balliol to award Keasbey Bursaries to students facing financial hardship. A glimpse into College records shows how such assistance meets a real need: ‘a third year chemist from a very modest farm background where the family income is hard to predict’; ‘she worked hard as a waitress to save money but now needs to focus on her studies and is therefore struggling financially’; ‘his parents have divorced recently and his mother has had to relocate and find more work’, to take but a few examples.
There are now well over 100 students who came to Balliol with a Keasbey Scholarship or who were able to continue their studies because they received a Keasbey Bursary. The College is enormously grateful to the Keasbey Memorial Foundation for helping Balliol students in both these ways, and it was a pleasure to have this rare opportunity to thank the trustees in person.