A ceremony at the University of New England yesterday, which acknowledged the gift of scholarships with a total value of $5.6 million, celebrated the vital links between the University and the community.
In welcoming donors and recipients and their families to UNE’s 2011 Scholarship Presentation ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, said that the ceremony was a celebration of the “heart and soul – the spirit” of the University, and of the community’s generous response to that “spirit”. He thanked the donors, pointing out that, in investing in the future of students, they were also investing in “the prosperity of the nation”.
During the ceremony, 132 out of a total of 214 scholarships were presented.
Professor Barber began the presentations by giving 23 UNE Country Scholarships to first-year undergraduate students from regional and remote areas. These scholarships, established in 1998, are each worth $5,000 a year for the duration of the student’s degree program.
A number of additional Country Scholarships are named in recognition of individual or corporate donors. These include the Roberts/UNE Country Scholarship, supported by Emeritus Professor John Roberts and his wife Yvonne, who travelled from their home in Sydney for the ceremony. Professor and Mrs Roberts both come originally from Armidale, and both studied at UNE in the 1950s. John Roberts graduated from UNE in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree and went on to a distinguished career as a geologist, becoming Professor of Geology at the University of NSW.
Professor Roberts explained that his “great attachment” to UNE went back to the involvement of his father, who was a lecturer in English at Armidale Teachers’ College, in the University’s educational extension program. “My feeling is that the University of New England is a special place,” he said, explaining that this was partly because of “the extremely friendly nature of the staff”. He said he enjoyed “benefiting a future graduate”, and hoped that they, too, might one day feel like “giving something back to the University”.
Professor Roberts presented the scholarship to Molly van Hemert, who comes from Tamworth and is in the first year of an animal science degree program.
Among the scholarships presented for the first time this year is the Services UNE Limited Scholarship for New England Regional School Leavers. This scholarship is for students who are from the New England region or who have attended school in the region. Mr Rod Watt, the Director of Services UNE, presented the scholarship to Peta Jeffery.
In introducing the presentation of postgraduate scholarships, UNE’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Students and Social Inclusion, Eve Woodberry, who was MC for the ceremony, said that the scholarships were “awarded to students undertaking a Master’s degree by research, or a research doctoral degree”. “They are variously funded by the Commonwealth, the University, and a number of organisations, companies and individuals,” she said, explaining that “funding may provide a living allowance and fee relief, and support activities associated with research such as resources and travel.”
Scholarships awarded specifically for travel are the Keith & Dorothy Mackay Travelling Scholarships, a number of which were presented yesterday. Ms Woodberry said that these were to assist with expenses towards a short-term attachment to another university, or for attendance at an international conference where the recipient would present a paper on their research.
At the end of the ceremony a current undergraduate scholarship holder, Jacob Foley, offered a vote of thanks on behalf of the recipients. “I would like to thank the scholarship donors and the University of New England for providing the opportunity for so many well-deserving students to reach their potential,” he said.
THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Professor John Roberts with Molly van Hemert.