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Campus News : December 2012
DECEMBER 2012 CONNECT :UOW 3 CONNECT: NEWS Above: An artist’s impression of the Early Start Facility that will be built on UOW’s main campus. Front page image: UOW Dean of Education Professor Paul Chandler (left) with Abbott Foundation founder Christopher Abbott AM, who provided $7 million for the Early Start project – the largest donation in UOW’s history. Below: Dean of Education Professor Paul Chandler (right) points out aspects of the Early Start project to (from left) Member for Throsby Stephen Jones, UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE and Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird. EARLY START TO TARGET EDUCATIONAL DISADVANTAGE The Abbott Foundation’s $7 million contribution to UOW’s Early Start project is the largest philanthropic donation in the history of the University. The donation from the Founder and Director of the Abbott Foundation, Mr Christopher Abbott AM, was also a significant part of UOW’s submission to the Federal Government’s Education Investment Fund for funding for the project. In a supporting submission to the government, Mr Abbott said that he has a “strong philosophical belief in the importance of encouraging children to develop an interest in learning at a very young age”. Mr Abbott created the Abbott Foundation in 2009 with the express purpose of supporting ventures that provide learning opportunities for young children which will promote their interest and capabilities for further education. The Early Start Facility will feature a Children’s Discovery Centre, fulfilling one of Mr Abbott’s visions for the Foundation. The Discovery Centre will have more than 2000 square metres of activity and exhibition space, outdoor exploration courtyards and discovery galleries. It is expected to eventually attract 120,000 visitors a year. Mr Abbott said the discovery centre would be designed to help children learn in a fun, non- threatening environment to help them develop self-confidence and leadership skills. It will open their eyes to things that are not in the school curriculum. “We want the discovery centre to enable children to look after themselves, to thrive, grow, create and interact ... to become part of society,” Mr Abbott said. “We want children to feel at home, to feel safe and to have fun because we believe the propensity to learn is greatest when there is an absence of threat. We want them to think for themselves and learn to work out problems for themselves, because that is how they can LARGEST DONATION IN UOW HISTORY develop self-confidence. “We want them to learn together with other children and to teach other children so that leadership comes naturally. We want them to explore the world in which they live, and the rules that govern that world, so that they can better handle the emotional and moral problems that they will certainly have to face.” UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE praised Mr Abbott’s philanthropy and his contribution to the Early Start project. “Mr Abbott’s contribution is one of the largest donations ever made to a non-Group of 8 university in Australia. It is certainly the largest donation to the University of Wollongong,” Professor Wellings said. Professor Wellings said the University being the recipient of such a generous gift was a great boost for the Illawarra region. The Vice-Chancellor added that he hoped the donation would inspire other regional organisations and industries to look at how they could contribute to the project to make it even more influential. NH The Federal Government has announced $31 million in funding for a University of Wollongong strategic teaching, research and community engagement initiative which will deliver a new generation of graduates to work with young children aged from 0-12 . The $44 million Early Start Facility is an inter- disciplinary project that is firmly targeted at overcoming social disadvantage in education of young children. The facility, to be built on UOW’s main campus and based in UOW’s Faculty of Education, will receive the funding through the latest regional round of the Federal Government’s Education Investment Fund (EIF). The remaining funding is coming from a philanthropic donation of $7 million from Mr Christopher Abbott AM of the Abbott Foundation – representing the biggest single donation ever made to UOW – with the University providing the balance. (See story below). Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, who is the Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education and Skills, announced the funding on 22 November at UOW with her parliamentary colleague Stephen Jones, the Member for Throsby. “The Early Start Facility, to be built at the University of Wollongong’s main campus, will include specialist teaching and research spaces, GOVERNMENT, PHILANTHROPIST BACK $44M CENTRE a Children’s Discovery Centre and a hub for 38 Early Start Engagement Centres,’’ Ms Bird said. Continued on page 14. UOW 597 ConnectUOW.indd 3 UOW 597 ConnectUOW.indd 3 3/12/12 11:32 AM 3/12/12 11:32 AM