Jump to Content

Giving opportunity

by Michèle Nardelli

Jean PearceIt is no surprise that when Jean and Tom Pearce decided to make another contribution to UniSA, it was a substantial gift to the library.

Jean and Tom Pearce are big readers - you can tell by the floor to ceiling bookcases in their home which are chock-a-block with books, from biographies of the greats, to local history, art and even a few craft books.

The retired teachers are responsible for the D W Hawke Memorial Scholarship, which provides up to $25,000 a year, specifically for a disadvantaged country student to support their education at UniSA.

It was established and named in honour of Jean’s brother who had aspired to attend university but instead stayed on the family farm at Kadina when one of his uncles died. Ten years ago when Don passed away, Jean inherited his estate and Jean, in turn, has used the proceeds to give to causes that she and her husband knew he would have supported. One of them is education.

"We’re not rich people, so it is actually a great privilege to be able to give," she says.

"We believe in sharing and seriously I think we get much more joy out of the giving than we could have imagined. When we were thinking about donating this time we thought about what it was like when we were students and drew on the experiences of family members who have studied at university. The thing we all remembered was how important it was to have text books and other materials available in the library.

"UniSA is a young institution and has not had the benefit of decades of giving from wealthy benefactors. Giving to the UniSA library means we can spread the support to many students at the same time and we are helping to build resources for students today and into the future."

The Pearce’s significant gift will provide texts in three key areas - the environment, education and health. After years of managing the Kadina property - giving away pieces of land, leasing some, selling pieces, share farming, subdividing, returning leased land to the Government, intensive tree planting – the Pearce’s sold the last 1500 acres of what was once "Hawke’s Farm" last year.

The final break from the property and its wonderful family history was not easy for Jean – the farm was a link to family, home and hearth. But in many ways she says the sale has simplified her busy life and allowed them to retain the heart and soul of the farm by supporting more than nine projects over and above their gifts to UniSA.

In addition to the memorial scholarship, at UniSA they also sponsor transition scholarships for rural and disadvantaged students and scholarships for physio and occupational therapy students to attend in-service training.

Their other bequests include donations to neonatal brain research, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital palliative care family program, research into the impact of vitamin D on children, and large-scale tree planting.

Annette and Leon DavisAnd in a month where giving seems to be in the air, another generous bequest has been made from a South Australian couple who hail from the country.

Born and raised in Port Pirie, Annette and Leon Davis AO have donated money to support two scholarships for students from their home town.

The Annette and Leon Davis Scholarships are open to Port Pirie school-leavers enrolled full-time in an undergraduate degree program at UniSA. The first scholarship will be awarded in 2009 and the second in 2011. The value of each scholarship is $12,000 for the first year and subsequent payments of $11,000 a year for the duration of the program to a maximum of four years.

Leon Davis graduated from the SA Institute of Technology in Primary Metallurgy in 1961 and received an Honorary Doctorate from UniSA in 2005. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia, a recipient of the Centenary Medal and a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

Across his impressive career in industry he has served as Chairman of Westpac Banking Corporation; Chief Executive of Rio Tinto; Deputy Chairman of Rio Tinto; Managing Director and Chief Executive of CRA; President of the Board of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research; Chairman of the Federal Government’s Business Roundtable on Sustainable Development and member of the Foreign Affairs Council.

The Davis family hope their example will encourage businesses and individuals in regional and rural South Australia to think about providing support for more scholarships for students who are disadvantaged in the educational opportunities by distance.