Professor Greg Craven's address at the ACU Foundation Launch.
"Your Eminence, thank you very much for being here. Other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you to Tenison Woods House which is I guess the latest acquisition of the University in North Sydney. It reflects, I think, the reality that over the past five years, as I always enjoy saying, we are now the largest Catholic university in the English speaking world- I have checked this yet again - with 25,000 students and plus, we are very much in there.
I may say that in a somewhat odd sense, it is also the highest Catholic building in Sydney. This building is 91 metres tall and St Mary’s is 74.6 m tall. I have to acknowledge it’s not quite as beautiful as St Mary’s but as Cardinal Pell once said in my presence, “there is much to be said for mass Christianity”. So for what it lacks in charm it certainly makes up in mass. I’m ashamed to say that I also checked the height of St Patricks’ spire in Melbourne and I’m simply not going to talk about that but I’m simply going to say that with three more storeys on this building, Sydney can win.
In terms of the ACU Foundation, as you know, it’s here to create partnerships with the University, corporations, community groups and alumni, but in a very particular way: to help the university in its mission for justice and equity in the fundamental Catholic social idea of dignity for all human beings.
The Foundation has existed for a number of years in a particular form but tonight we are celebrating a renewed focus for the Foundation, and on that famous scale of Sir Humphrey Appleby measures, this one is not merely brave, it’s not merely courageous – and my recollection is that courageous equates to suicide – this is audacious, which is the one beyond courageous. Because for someone with a background in the University of Melbourne I understand very well what foundations and philanthropy are about. They are to benefit the university. And if you walk around the University of Melbourne, my old alma mater, you can see buildings named and various things that have benefited the university.
This refocus of the Foundation is in a sense to put the “phil” back into philanthropy. The programs that the University is going to seek support for from now on are going to be those programs which are not going to benefit the University directly but which are going to benefit others. In other words, every option, every focus about philanthropy is going to be very much about not bringing money into the university but bringing money around the university and putting that money to where it is the best used. And that is an approach to philanthropy that I think is unique in Australian universities but hardly unique in terms of Catholic philosophy of what Catholic universities and philanthropy should be about.
And so there are going to be three foci to start with but they will, I believe, grow.
One is going to be around scholarships and bursaries and I say those two things very specifically. Scholarships of course are for people who show particular academic talent and indeed it is to encourage them and bring them forward. Bursaries are particularly for people who would not otherwise have been able to access tertiary education. So that first focus is to try to provide particularly for people who are deserving and particularly for the deserving who cannot actually access education.
The second focus is going to be for the ACU refugee program on the Thai Burma border that offers tertiary education to Burmese refugees and migrant students. And that’s something we’ve been in for the long term since 2004 and through the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and headed by Duncan MacLaren, we have partnered with universities from the United States and Canada to provide tertiary education to these young adult refugees and many of those graduates have gone on to study at universities around the world based on the ACU qualification that they have obtained. And that is the second direction in which we propose to invest our efforts of philanthropy.
And the third is going to be in capacity-building projects in Timor L’Este. The university has been involved in Timor L’Este now for 13 years since 2000. The particular program that we are enormously directing towards to is the program Future in Youth, run by the School of Exercise Science, it trains Timorese students through a soccer-coaching program. And it’s a program which gives to those youth improved health, wellbeing, life skills with an emphasis on fun and fairness, freedom and respect, and leadership. And that’s a long-term investment. It’s an investment in hope.
I look around and see Jude Butcher and think of the Clemente program, that provides opportunities for the most marginalised in society, is a natural focus for these types of programs.
I can say that this program has some other interesting features. One of which is that the university guarantees that 100 per cent of every piece of money raised will go into the programs to which it goes. None of it will go towards funding the small Foundation team we have of about 5 people. The University will bear that cost itself. This is a direct input to absolutely tremendous programs. What we are hoping is that with the financial contributions raised from this there can be demonstrated a deep commitment to our work of educating and supporting and providing access to quality education to disadvantaged students. And of course without support we won’t be able to do that.
So on behalf of the Foundation can I thank all of you for being here on a busy night, particularly Cardinal Pell on what is obviously a busy time for the Church, and we look forward to working with you to really making a difference."