In 2008, Jessica and Peter Frankopan of the Staples Trust of the Sainsbury Family Trust gave a major benefaction to fund a Director for the increasingly influential Centre for Gender Studies at Cambridge. The generous gift secured the first permanent post of its kind at Cambridge and is called the Frankopan Director of Gender Studies in the couple’s honour. The University’s Centre for Gender Studies is regarded as one of the world’s leading networks of international thinkers in a field fundamental to understanding human experience. The Centre, situated within the University’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, attracts a wealth of world-class scholars and tackles key issues ranging from global development to the impact of biomedical advances. The first Frankopan Director of Gender Studies, who took up the post in October 2008, is Dr Jude Browne, an authority on gender, equality and public policy.
Peter and Jessica Frankopan are both graduates of the University, and their involvement with the Centre and academia as a whole has been extensive. Remarkably loyal alumni of Cambridge since graduating from Jesus College in the early 1990s, the Frankopans have provided a variety of grants for University and College initiatives, and hosted the University’s Gender Studies development meetings in London. Peter Frankopan, a specialist in the history of the Byzantine Empire, took a First Class degree in History at Cambridge. He then went on to complete his PhD at Oxford, where he is now a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College. Jessica Frankopan read Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge, before taking an MSc at the London School of Economics. She worked initially in International Development and authored a gender study on ‘The New Inequality’. Together, they are the founders of A Curious Group of Hotels based in England, France and the Netherlands.