Philanthropist John Mitchell, a long-term ANU supporter and alumnus, has been honoured in the 2018 Australia Day Honours with an OAM for his service to the community as a philanthropist. John was also awarded an ANU Honorary Degree at the 2017 end-of-year graduation ceremonies.
John is a successful farmer and investor with a passion for economics and reducing income inequality. His philanthropic drive was shaped during a challenging youth and the obstacles he overcame in his pursuit of higher education.
As a young undergraduate student in the 1970s, he had to overcome both his father's objections to him pursuing a university degree and a subsequent lack of any financial support. Studying Economics and Arts at ANU and living at Burgmann College gave him a positive direction in life.
John graduated in 1982 and has been running the family sheep and cattle station, Towong Hill, for the past 35 years. He is well known for his generosity towards people in need, often paying for people's medical bills and driving them 150 kilometres to Albury for specialist medical appointments.
Today John is one of the most important supporters of the University. In 2002 he established a scholarship program for undergraduate students from rural and regional backgrounds, which helps first-year students each year at the ANU College of Business and Economics.
Since 2016, John has funded research that will have a significant impact on the future of Australian farming. This aligns with his passion for developing farming practices that are environmentally and financially sustainable.
He also established the John Mitchell Research Fellowship with a gift of $490,000 to the ANU Research School of Economics. This will in part fund an early-career researcher working on income distribution and inequality.
More recently, John has provided a $5 million dollar bequest for an Endowed Chair at the ANU Research School of Economics to ensure there will always be research carried out into reducing income inequality.