Sir Cyril Taylor was born in Yorkshire, England. He was the founder and Chairman of AIFS and had a long and distinguished career in public service and education. At age 18 he received a National Service Commission serving with the King’s African Rifles in Kenya. Following his military service he went to Cambridge University graduating with an honours degree in history from Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He then decided to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School for which he was awarded the Charles Bell Scholarship by the London Chamber of Commerce.
After graduating from Harvard, Sir Cyril worked as a brand manager with Procter & Gamble at the organization’s headquarters in Cincinnati. Over this period he and another colleague realised there was a gap in the market for language teachers wishing to take their pupils abroad on organised summer programmes initially in Europe. In 1964 they founded the American Institute For Foreign Study. Fifty years later AIFS has global offices in six countries. It has expanded its programme offerings to AIFS Study Abroad, Camp America, Au Pair in America, Academic Year in America, Summer Institute for the Gifted, Cultural Insurance Services International as well as summer work travel programmes in Australia and New Zealand.
In 1972 AIFS founded Richmond, The American International University in London, which is now a free-standing non profit American University accredited by both the US and UK education authorities to award both US and UK degrees. Richmond currently has a student body of more than 1,000 from over 100 countries. Sir Cyril Taylor served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1972-2005 and served as its first Chancellor.
From 1987-2007 Sir Cyril served as Chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (originally the City Technology Colleges Trust, and then Specialist Schools Trust) in a part-time, voluntary unpaid capacity. For 20 years he served as advisor to ten successive Secretaries of State for Education on the Specialist Schools and Academies initiative. During this time, 90% of the 3,000 state secondary schools achieved specialist school or academy status. Due to his efforts, over 300 million pounds in sponsorship was raised helping schools to raise their standards of performance.
In 1996-97 Sir Cyril served as High Sheriff of Greater London. During his year in office he highlighted the issue of young offenders, visiting many young offenders prisons in London and meeting with high court judges, probation services and the police. He completed his special study Tough on the Causes of Crime and recommended policy changes for young offenders' treatment to the Home Secretary.
Sir Cyril was very active in public services and received a number of honours for his work. From 1977-1986 he served on the Greater London Council, where he was elected Deputy Leader. He was appointed Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1989 for services to education and was advanced to a Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 2004 New Year’s Honours list. He held honorary degrees from four universities.
Sir Cyril was author of many publications including his most recent book, his autobiography My Life as a Social Entrepreneur published by Amberly in 2013, as well as A Good School for Every Child published by Routledge in 2008, and co-authored How English Universities Could Learn from the American Higher Education System. See www.cyriltaylor.com for a full list of publications.
Sir Cyril passed away in London in January 2018 at the age of 82.