$18m pledge from Wotif.com founders kick starts educational fund

Philanthropy Australia received the following press release about the University of Queensland Endowment Fund:

The University of Queensland Endowment Fund (UQef) was launched in Brisbane on Monday 25th February with an $18 million kick start from UQ graduates Graeme Wood and Andrew Brice.

In a ceremony held at UQ’s Customs House, Mr Wood and Mr Brice (co-founders of accommodation website Wotif.com) committed $8 million worth of Wotif.com shares between them with Mr Brice pledging a further two million shares over the next two years and Mr Wood pledging a further $2 million over the next five years. According to Wotif.com’s share price in late February this equates to an overall total of approximately $18 million.

“UQef will provide opportunities for major benefactors to support academic initiatives that they feel need stronger emphasis or more rapid development, including named Chairs and research programs,” Mr Brice said.

Mr Brice and Mr Wood said the motivation to create the fund followed a universal trend of benefactors wishing to become more engaged with their contributions.

Discussing the ongoing trend, Mr Brice commented: “Engagement with the donation process is desirable because it offers accountability and motivation. Donors are interested in being actively involved in the process and seeing the positive impact that their support has on the individual, industry or the community.

Mr Wood said he and Mr Brice hoped the opportunity to personalise the process, would help spark an increase in the level of educational philanthropy throughout Australia.

“In the US it is a practice for major universities to have an independent body that philanthropists can direct their contributions through and retain a degree of control over how their money is spent,” Mr Wood said.

“We recognised the opportunity for a similar avenue for support at UQ.”

UQef will be overseen by a board consisting of UQ alumni and prominent business people including Mr Wood, John Wiley of Carnegie Wylie, Tim Crommelin of ABN AMRO Morgans and Darryl McDonough of Clayton Utz, who will ensure the expectations of benefactors are met.

UQef will work in partnership with UQ to provide the best possible outcomes for the students of UQ and the future of the University.

The University of the Queensland’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Greenfield, said the UQef initiative showed tremendous foresight, and was an initiative that universities everywhere would welcome.

“It is rare for an Australian university to benefit from this scale of donation from alumni, yet graduate philanthropy is likely to be a hallmark of internationally competitive Australian universities in the not-too-distant future.

“We are delighted that Andrew and Graeme have chosen UQ as the target of their personal generosity and the prescribed private fund,” Professor Greenfield said.

Feb. 27, 2008

 Tags: news

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