This week we had the wonderful news of the donation of $50 million to the University by Graham and Louise Tuckwell to fund the Tuckwell Scholarship program. When it reaches steady state, there will by 125 Tuckwell Scholars studying at ANU. The magnitude of the scheme should not be underestimated. A number of commentators have called it an undergraduate version of the Rhodes Scholarship program and, in financial terms, it is of this magnitude.
For ANU, the program will have enormous benefits. Firstly, it will attract outstanding students from across the nation to ANU. The process to identify these students will be quite involved, with a final step in which the top 75 applicants will visit ANU for interview. Of the 75, 25 will receive Tuckwell Scholarships. Our expectation, however, is that many of the others, once they have had an opportunity to experience the ANU environment, will also decide to enrol.
Possibly the biggest impact on ANU and our student body, however, will be the “spill over” effect of the Tuckwell Scholars. They will be chosen both on academic merit and their record and desire to contribute to society. Graham and Louise Tuckwell are very clear that Scholars will have a desire and a duty to contribute broadly to society, both as students and in the future. This may be a financial contribution, following the example of the Tuckwells, but it also may be a contribution of their time, intellect, energy etc.
For me personally, it was very inspirational to spend time with Graham Tuckwell and see, first hand, his commitment to use his position and wealth to shape the next generation. For all of us now, we have the responsibility to deliver on his vision. In our busy lives, we should not forget that one of the great joys of working in a university is that we, too, shape the future of our students.