July 14th, 2016
Australian National University has received its largest gift from a single donor after philanthropists Graham and Louise Tuckwell yesterday added another $100 million to their 2013 gift of $50m.
The money, which will finance the building of two student accommodation blocks with 800 beds, will ensure the visionary Tuckwell scholarship program for gifted all-rounders will be funded into perpetuity. Across time, the number of scholarships, which now stands at 25 a year, also will increase.
Mr Tuckwell, who has law and economics degrees from ANU, said part of his vision was for Tuckwell scholars to benefit from the collegial and pastoral support of an excellent residential college education. Mr Tuckwell said a review of the program was due after five years. But four years in, the success of the program was undeniable and this had motivated the second donation.
Tuckwell scholars Sarah Campbell and Nishanth Pathy were on hand on Monday as living case studies of why the program is such a success.
Despite being in semester break, the two were on campus voluntarily taking additional studies — for the fun of it.
Sarah Davies, chief executive of Philanthropy Australia, said there was much to celebrate about the Tuckwell donation.
“Whichever way you look at it, this is stunning piece of philanthropy,” Ms Davies said.
“It invests in smart young people, it gives ANU an important piece of infrastructure, it provides stable and consistent revenue streams into the future.
“And they are putting their name to it and are willing to talk about it. They are the active builders of the nation’s future capital and will hopefully inspire others to do the same.
“I would love it if everyone picked up on contagion factor.”
Philanthropy in Australian higher education is enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years. The most recent Ross-CASE study of Australian and New Zealand universities, from 2014, reported more than $400m raised by the 19 participating institutions.
Last year, the universities of Sydney and Melbourne reached long-term philanthropy campaigns ahead of time, allowing them to stretch their targets — Sydney to $750m and Melbourne to $1 billion.
The idea of building infrastructure to produce a continuing revenue stream to fund scholarships has been done at least once before in Australia.
In 2014, the University of the Sunshine Coast received a single $5m gift from local Maroochydore philanthropists Roy and Nola Thompson — 10 times the size of its previous largest donation — to fund a multistorey, architect-designed, eco-friendly, revenue-streaming carpark. It will fund scholarships for disadvantaged students.
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