Keeping pace with a changing place

25 years ago, the first cohort of 48 MBA students arrived at the University of Oxford, after a landmark donation from Wafic Saïd paved the way for the establishment of a business school. Teaching took place in the Radcliffe Infirmary, which was at the time still a fully operational hospital.

Jonathan Reynolds, Associate Professor in Retail Marketing and Deputy Dean remembers that time.

The single MBA lecture theatre was located above what I believe was one of the hospital’s scanners. I recall that whenever the machine was in use it was very noisy and often interfered with our PowerPoint slides.

Jonathan Reynolds

Associate Professor in Retail Marketing and Deputy Dean

In 2001, everything changed when the Park End Street building opened. We owe a great debt of thanks to our founding benefactors who made this project possible, with special thanks to the late Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover for the Sainsbury Library which all students of the School will have passed many hours in. 



The design, which combined traditional college features with more unconventional architectural styles, was just as fresh and exciting as Oxford Saïd was proving to be. It was state-of-the-art and provided a contemporary interpretation of Oxford’s dreaming spires: A young upstart, building on hundreds of years of tradition and experience. The School finally had a face to match its character.

The site was even more fitting, as the former plot of the 13th-century Rewley Abbey, a studium for Cistercian monks. Oxford Saïd’s occupancy continues the centuries’ long tradition of learning and enquiry on the site, where we come together as a community committed to transforming the world in which we live.



In 2012, it all changed again when the Thatcher Business Education Centre opened, due to the continued generosity from Wafic Saïd and the Saïd Foundation. The significant expansion of the site was representative of the growth of the School as it became more firmly established. Space within the building was named subsequently as a result of generous gifts from alumni and corporate partners.


In our 25th year, as we look to the future, we consider the impact that the Global Leadership Centre (GLC) is yet to have on a whole future generation of Oxford Saïd students. Thanks to the generosity of Wafic Saïd, Pershing Square Foundation, Sir Howard and Lady Stringer, and alumni Hasmukh Patel, Steve Yamshon, and John Butler and his wife Susan Hayward-Butler, the GLC will be a cutting-edge physical and digital hub that supports exceptional leaders, encouraging them to innovate and experiment beyond traditional boundaries.

Find out more about the Global Leadership Centre project

Supporting Oxford Saïd by helping to fund this exciting capital project creates a lasting legacy. It’s a really special feeling to give back and pay forward to the School that gave me so much, and to support thousands of future students.

John Butler

PGDip Organisational Leadership 2013, Alumni Advisory Council member

Oxford Saïd has come so far in 25 years. Now firmly part of the iconic Oxford skyline, the 2021 MBA class has 355 students – a dramatic increase on the class of 1996, and the School offers 15 degree programmes and extensive Executive Education and open programmes. Whilst we benefit greatly from being embedded in a much longer history, and within a world class university, it’s the School’s signature fresh approach that makes us unique. Whilst studying at Oxford Saïd may be a very different experience now than it was in 1996, the School’s approach to business education remains just as exciting as it was at its inception.