CASS celebrates student successes and donor generosity

Monday 2 March 2020

Each year, more than 250 students in the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) benefit from scholarships and grants that enrichen their study experience, or enable them to perform to their full potential. They are able to take up opportunities they might not otherwise be able to, deepen their learning, and foster connections with people who have life-long impacts on them.

The inaugural CASS Celebration of Success and Generosity on 20 February acknowledged these motivated and high achieving students, as well as recognised our generous donors who support them. Attending students were brought together with donors to the College, some of whom made the opportunities they have enjoyed possible, while donors heard about the difference their support had made to the lives of countless students. Students from the School of Music provided the musical soundtrack to the evening.

Recent ANU graduate and Gamilaraay-Yuwaalaraay man Peter Swanton performed the Acknowledgement of Country. College Dean Professor Rae Frances AM welcomed all guests to the event, held in Gandel Hall at the National Museum of Australia. Professor Frances spoke of the College’s commitment to our students, aided by members of the broader College community.

“Each year at a College level, we invest in support for students through scholarships and field study grants, and we recognise outstanding achievement through prizes,” Professor Frances said. “However we don’t do this alone. We are fortunate to have an engaged community of supporters who recognise the value of enabling and enhancing the journeys our students take.”

Minda Murray, a Yorta Yorta Dhudhuroa woman from northern Victoria and current Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development student, shared her experience with the audience of doing an exchange program in the United States. Through the assistance of the Elspeth Young Memorial Grant from the Tjabal Indigenous Higher Education Centre, and a CASS Indigenous Australian Graduate Scholarship, Minda was able to take part in the Tucson Indigenous Governance Program at the Native Nations Institute in the Law School of the University of Arizona. 

“I was extremely lucky to be able to spend a month with Indigenous leaders from all of the world,” she said, “and learn and share stories of native nation rebuilding, community development, Indigenous governance, environmental law, and making change happen in the Indigenous space.”

“I believe true change only occurs when you push the limits on the fringes of the unknown, and trust me, I’m going to enjoy pushing the limits on the fringes of the government for some policy changes in Victoria.”

Dedicated supporter of the College, and former interim Head of the School of Music, Emeritus Professor Malcolm Gillies AM, BA (Hons) ’78, humorously applied his knowledge of Latin, honed at the ANU. He informed the audience that Coronavirus means something like ‘crown poison’ and that the ancient Greeks had the term khalazokopia, which means ‘damaged by hail storm’.

“I even know that the Latin word donare means ‘to give’,” he added.

Emeritus Professor Gillies drew on the ANU Vice-Chancellor’s 2020 State of the University address, citing three examples that audience members could lend their financial support to: improving student experience, the new Kambri scholarships, and contributing to the university’s fight against climate change.

“The university matches the size of your giving,” he told the crowd. “Well, at least up to $50 million.”

Current Head of the School of Music Associate Professor Kim Cunio took to the stage with a small hand drum. After teaching the audience the lines of an African song, he invited his School’s students to join him at the front to help lead a mass performance of the song.

One attendee who enjoyed the proceedings was Fourth Year Law/Arts student Christina Lee. The Human Rights major has led a fundraising effort during her time at ANU to build a library in a small village in Nepal. Last year, supported by a CASS Study Tour and Field Trip Travel Grant, she travelled to the Indonesian island of Sumba for an anthropology field school. She spoke about the difference the financial support made.

“I have a casual job, but because I’m studying full time it’s not enough to support me to go through uni as well as do an international trip on top of it,” Christina said. “So without [the grant], it would’ve been really difficult. 

She added that grants such as the one provided by CASS show what ANU stands for: “We don’t just care about our local community – we reach out.”

Christina extended “a big thank you” to the generous donors and all the staff of CASS for looking after them, and making them feel like they’re part of something “really important and really special.”

“I’m really, really glad to be part of the ANU community.”


Head of Advancement at CASS Andrea Morris, who closed out the Celebration of Success and Generosity, invites all prospective donors who wish to make a difference to get in touch: Andrea [dot] Morris [at] anu [dot] edu [dot] au 

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Updated:  2 March 2020/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications