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University of Auckland fundraising campaign raises most ever

A fundraising campaign publicly launched by the University of Auckland in 2016 has raised the largest ever amount in New Zealand’s philanthropic history

The Campaign For All Our Futures, designed to fund research, innovation, and initiatives to support students, had had a goal of raising $300 million. At a gala dinner in Auckland last night (Thursday, 21 November), the University announced that when the campaign closed on 31 October it had raised $380,271,165.

The total amount comprised 23,592 separate donations, gifted by more than 7,000 donors; almost all were for a specific, nominated purpose. Many of the major gifts were for medical research while other contributions supported donor-funded student scholarships. The very last gift on the evening of 31 October was an online donation of $220 towards the Student Emergency and Wellbeing Fund, from an Australia-based alumnus.

University of Auckland Chancellor Scott St John said the money raised was a crucial part of the University being able to continue to contribute locally and internationally.

“More than any other time, the world faces immense challenges. We are in the middle of a technological revolution, climate change, and an expanding and ageing population. Health and wellness issues are affecting the way and the length of time we live, while the needs of people must be balanced with the impact on the environment and the planet.

“By generating new knowledge and providing the highest levels of formal education, research-led universities have a unique role to play in helping meet these challenges and creating a positive future both in New Zealand and internationally.”

During the announcement, Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon said that partnerships and philanthropy were essential for providing the resources and capability for the tertiary sector to be able to carry out relevant research. And that was what the Campaign For All Our Futures had delivered, he said.

“The outcome of this campaign is a tribute to the thousands of people who have contributed: our Campaign Board – chaired by alumnus Geoff Ricketts – and the trustees of our foundations; our staff for conducting and supporting extraordinary teaching and research; our alumni for demonstrating the lifelong benefits of a University of Auckland degree; and our many friends and donors for making the work of this extraordinary institution possible. Thank you to all those who participated.”

Professor McCutcheon said that none of the donations would go towards the basic running costs of the University.

“Every dollar we have raised will create a new opportunity for our students and staff to achieve something they would not otherwise have been able to do – that’s the great thing about philanthropy.”

Also announced last night was the largest single donation ever made to the University of Auckland.

Before his death in 2012 and inspired by the work of Distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull and his team at the Centre for Brain Research (CBR), Hugh Green had helped set up the Hugh Green Biobank. This is one of just a handful of institutions worldwide able to grow human brain cells.

As part of For All Our Futures, the Hugh Green Foundation signed a gift agreement for $16.5 million to fund the Hugh Green Biobank in perpetuity, and for a new Hugh Green Foundation Chair in Translational Neuroscience. The significant donation will allow the CBR to develop a brain-drug discovery facility, using human brain-cell cultures to identify and develop effective medications for brain disorders such as Huntington’s disease.

Other highlights of the Campaign For All Our Futures include:
• A trebling of the number of donor-funded scholarships, funded by numerous donors here and around the world, including alumni. Scholarships were awarded for first-in-family students, for financial hardship, for refugee students, and to provide unique opportunities for top scholars to continue to higher studies.

• New Kupe Leadership Scholarships established for exceptional students from around the country with high aspirations for New Zealand. Initial funding was from Canadian philanthropist John McCall MacBain, with multiple donors coming on board more recently. Recipients include anthropology student Patricia Pillay, who is being mentored by Professor Dame Anne Salmond and Dave Veart, with funding from Charlotte Lockhart and Andrew Barnes.

• The new Unleash Space, giving students across a wide range of disciplines a dedicated innovation hub to develop and test ideas and launch new ventures. Founding partners were Sir Owen G Glenn, Beca, Chau Hoi Shuen Foundation, Hynds Foundation, Li Ka Shing Foundation, and PwC.

• An anonymous donation helped establish the Auckland Cancer Trials Centre, a joint initiative between the University of Auckland and the Auckland District Health Board. It is giving local patients access to novel medicines to treat and improve the care of patients with cancer.

• The Auckland Programme for Space Systems was launched, including a CubeSat challenge for students to identify a societal need and then design and build a miniature satellite that will provide a solution. The first mission-ready cubesat is to be launched in early 2020 by Rocket Lab. Funding for APSS has come from US-based engineering alumnus Dr Neil Paton and wife Louise Paton.

• Foundation North, The Nature Conservancy, Chisholm Whitney Charitable Trust, McCrae Family and others are supporting research to enhance shellfish restoration, including a project that is discovering the detoxification power of mussels. These common shellfish filter out a huge amount of dangerous nitrogen, effectively making our seawater cleaner. As part of the project, 147 tonnes of adult mussels have been deployed in the Hauraki Gulf since 2013, filtering approx. 2.4 million litres of seawater – every single day.

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