A lifelong connection to ANU

9 November 2017

"Even a small amount of money could make a big difference in helping someone across the line."

ANU alumna Ms Hester Gascoigne established the HL Gascoigne Grant in 2017 to support staff, scholars and research at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies (NCIS) generate new research and ideas.

Hester has longstanding connections to ANU, as her astronomer father came from New Zealand to Mount Stromlo as a research fellow in 1941 and worked there until he retired. Since graduating, Hester has remained involved with ANU through attending classes, courses and events on campus.

To recognise the impact that ANU has had on her life, Hester initially decided to leave a gift to the University in her will.

“A will is your last statement to the world about what mattered to you in your life and the institutions and people who played a memorable role. I wanted to leave a legacy that created opportunities in education for people who might otherwise struggle to get them. ANU was the logical place, as an institution I know, as a Canberra institution for a Canberra person, and as one that has played a significant role in my family’s life.”

After meeting former NCIS Director, Professor Mick Dodson, who talked about a student who was able to finish a degree with an injection of funds at the right time, Hester was inspired to make a philanthropic donation in her lifetime.

“It occurred to me that even a small amount of money could make a big difference in helping someone across the line, or getting an idea up and running, and that committing a set amount for a set time would be helpful for NCIS. And it’s fun to be in the position to see the consequences of your investment.”

Hester is hopeful that the grant will have a positive long-term impact.

“I hope it helps give life to new ideas with the potential to make a difference and creates a research opportunity that might lead to bigger and better things for the recipients.”

As someone who has witnessed the benefits of making a gift to a university, Hester is an advocate for the positive impact that philanthropy can have in higher education.

“The joy of ANU is that the spectrum of opportunity for philanthropy is vast — you are bound to find a niche that reflects your interests. And philanthropy enables the institution to do things that otherwise it may not be able to do, be it investing in a line of research or creating opportunities for scholars. It’s about expanding the Universe”, says the astronomer’s daughter.

NCIS is the nation’s leading academic centre for interdisciplinary research in Indigenous Studies. Partnerships and philanthropic funding support NCIS to further its influence and grow its ambitious agenda.

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