John’s donation allows others to follow in his Museum Studies PhD footsteps

A former University of Leicester student is helping to ensure others follow in his footsteps thanks to a generous donation.

Dr John Carter, from Ontario, Canada, graduated from the University with a PhD in Museum Studies in 2000. 

Now, the 72 year old has donated a significant amount of money to support postgraduate international students studying the same course. The gift will become part of a permanently endowed fund which will benefit students for generations to come as part of an annual bursary to help one individual a year with living and study costs. 

Dr Carter, whose dad hails from Bradford, spent 30 years as a museums and heritage advisor with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, in Ontario, before his retirement. He studied for his PhD over a period of 12 years, while working for the ministry. 

Dr Carter said: “I was lucky enough to have a job and be able to fund my studies at Leicester but I realise not everyone has that. My PhD really helped me in my career so it’s wonderful to be able to give something back. I grew up in Canada but I have such a special place for the University and city in my heart. I made a lot of good friends – some of whom I’m still in touch with to this day.”

Dr Carter started his PhD in 1988, spending an initial six months living and studying at the University.

“I’d never been to Leicester before so it was all new,” he said. “I have relatives in England and Scotland and this also gave me a chance to come over and visit them. At the time the University seemed to be one of only a few places who offered a course in Museum Studies. I ended up doing a lot of teaching for the University while I was there and my studies were put to one side a little but I had a great time and it set me up to continue with them.

“I came to the University for two weeks every year after that to study for my PhD until finally I graduated in 2000.

“I hope that my donation will encourage others in a similar position to do the same. It’s great to be able to give back to something that was so rewarding to my life.”

Professor Tilly Blyth, Head of the School of Museum Studies, said: “I am delighted that the school has been given such a generous donation to support some of our international students. It provides a fantastic opportunity for those on our campus-based programmes to pursue learning and development opportunities, such as a work placement or field research, that they might not otherwise be able to afford. It will assist future students for years to come.

“Our course has a global reputation for leading-edge thinking and experimental practice. Our researchers, practitioners and postgraduate students come together to think creatively and critically about museums, galleries and heritage and so it’s particularly meaningful to hear how these skills have been put to good use in Dr Carter’s own career.” 

Myra Matthews, Head of Philanthropy from the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) added: “Making an endowed gift is a lovely way for donors to make a lasting difference to the work of the University. The generosity and support of individuals like Dr Carter, and other alumni and friends, ensures we can continue to offer life-changing experiences for our students. We’d like to thank Dr Carter for his long-term vision to help postgraduate international students during their time in the School of Museum Studies at Leicester.” 

In addition to his PhD, Dr Carter has degrees in History and Education and has held academic appointments at the Australian National University (Canberra) and the University of Tasmania (Hobart). In addition, he was a member of advisory committees for museum studies programmes at Fleming (Peterborough), and Algonquin (Ottawa) Community Colleges in Ontario.

Dr Carter has a number of prestigious awards thanks to his work and dedication. He received the Agnes MacPhail Award at a ceremony at East York Civic Centre, Ontario. The award is given to members of the East York community for services to public life.

He has also received the Cruikshank Gold Medal, a rarely presented honour, for his long service as a member and volunteer of the Ontario Historical Society. 

To make a gift to the University or for more information on how you can help, email