Billionaire couple gifts ANU the biggest donation in Australian history
Jul 13, 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
Australia’s two richest universities have long gorged on the lion’s share of private donations in higher education - wallowing in luxuries of largess unimaginable to their 41 poor relations.
But one Canberra billionaire is turning the old order on its head.
Move over Sydney and Melbourne universities - the ANU is coming through.
For while Sydney University may have been gifted $35 million by Susan and Isaac Wakil in April, and Melbourne has notched up $500 million through an uber-successful three-year donation drive, the Australian National University this week scored the largest private donation in higher education history.
Canberra-born commodities trader and former alumnus Graham Tuckwell has announced an ANU scholarship and building program worth a cool $200 million over the next 30 years.
Mr Tuckwell and his wife, Louise, will donate $100 million to build two state-of-the art 400-place halls of residence during the next two years.
lt will fund the long-term expansion of the Tuckwell Scholarship Program they established in 2013, a scheme described by vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt as “Australia’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship”.
It currently selects 25 undergraduates a year to receive a free university experience through payments worth $21,700 annually for up to five years.
The number of scholarships awarded will be expanded under the new arrangement and the scheme is intended to continue for perpetuity.
The plan also includes construction of a $10 million Scholars House building to provide a pastoral, academic and social base for program students.
Professor Schmidt described the couple’s gift as “magnificent”, saying: “Today marks a new beginning and a monumental contribution that will be a legacy for many decades to come.
“It is the beginning of a new future at ANU, and a new hallmark in the history of philanthropy in Australia.
“This is a truly outstanding contribution to the University, and to the nation.”
Mr Tuckwell, who lived in Bruce Hall while a student at ANU, said university education had transformed life for himself and his wife.
“Louise and I benefited enormously from our educational experiences,” he said.
“We would like to help and encourage others to gain from a total university experience and to use it to benefit Australia.”
Federal education minister Simon Birmingham said the donation would provide “real world benefits” for future generations.
"The Turnbull Government sincerely thanks Graham and Louise Tuckwell for their generosity and the generous philanthropic example they continue to set," he said.