The past week has been a magnificent reminder of the pride and joy we all share in our great university as we celebrated the wonderful achievements of our students, staff and alumni.
Great education and research is at the heart of everything we do here at ANU. Over the past week, it has been my great privilege take part in my first graduation ceremonies as Vice-Chancellor. More than 1,800 students graduated in the past week, and it was a pleasure to be on stage to watch new graduates receive their qualifications. One of the great joys of being Vice-Chancellor is to help celebrate the great achievements of our students. On behalf of everyone at ANU, I congratulate all new graduates and wish them well for the future. Your studies might have finished, but you will always be welcome members of the ANU community.
It is fitting that in a week where we celebrate mid-year student graduations, we also celebrate an extraordinary act of generosity from one of our former students, Graham Tuckwell, and his wife Louise. I'd like to express my personal thanks and admiration for the wonderful contribution Graham and Louise are making to ANU. They will fund two new halls of residence, to house 400 students each, with the proceeds to flow to the University to support the flagship Tuckwell Scholarship program in perpetuity. Their amazing philanthropy will be worth around $200 million over the next 30 years, and sets a new benchmark for Australian philanthropy to a university. Most importantly, the contribution will give more students the opportunity to live on campus, and will lead to a gradual expansion of the Tuckwell Scholarship program, giving more students an opportunity to study at ANU.
The past week has also seen another exciting philanthropic gift from art collector James and Jacqui Erskine, who donated some wonderful Australian artworks to our refurbished Drill Hall Gallery. The extraordinary gift included major pieces by Indigenous artists Emily Kngwarreye and George Tungurrayi. I was delighted to personally thank the Erskines for his gift as the Drill Hall Gallery celebrated its re-opening following a $2 million upgrade. I encourage everyone to visit the new-look gallery. It is a truly wonderful exhibition space and home to great works of art.
In the coming week, ANU will celebrate an outstanding 50 years of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) over in the College of Asia and the Pacific. Over the past half century, the SDSC has built a reputation for excellence and specialist research, becoming the nation's foremost academic institute for strategic studies research, education and commentary. It has also played a crucial role in guiding strategic policy and debate. I congratulate the current Head, Brendan Taylor, and all former and current staff. I look forward to the celebrations and future contributions to the national debate and policy.
Further, congratulations are also due to our Postgraduate and Research Students' Association PARSA, who in the past week won the International Students' Association of the Year award. PARSA does a great job representing the post graduate community at ANU, and I congratulate them on the well-deserved award.
Finally, I'd like to take a moment to pay tribute to Alumnus Robert Foster, who died after a car accident. Robert was a true and valued friend of ANU, and particularly the School of Art, where he studied in the 1980s. He will be sadly missed by his many friends at ANU.
With best wishes