Launch of Trust Fund based on a belief in the fundamental significance of History to all spheres of learning

The University of Melbourne has recently received a gift to establish a History Trust - a gift that will allow new teaching and learning initiatives in one of the University's oldest and most prestigious programs.

At the forefront of the study of history in Australia since 1854, the History program at Melbourne has always been one of the largest and most significant in Australia, encompassing great names such as Ernest Scott, Max Crawford, Margaret Kiddle, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Manning Clark, John Poynter, Geoffrey Blainey, Greg Dening and Stuart Macintyre in debates over many decades.

At a recent event to mark the establishment of the Trust, in addition to the rich 'history' of the History program, Fay and Barry Gilbert both commented that their decision to support the trust was also informed by their international business careers and an appreciation of the importance that many nations place on knowledge of history as fundamental to other streams of education. As Deputy Chair of the Melbourne Humanities Foundation, and supporter of scholarships for history students, Fay Gilbert underlined that she hoped that 'the establishment of the History Trust can enhance History and humanities education at Melbourne and in doing so increase its appeal to the student body in general'.

Worried that students today sometimes take a narrowly vocational view of their education, Barry Gilbert emphasised that his international career in agribusiness, food production and processing had given him 'deep insights into the requirements of Australian businesses, executives and management to succeed in an increasingly competitive business environment'. 'To understand the strengths and opportunities that Australian businesses have, and the consequent competitive advantages involved', he said 'requires more than just an understanding of contemporary issues, but also knowledge of the historical base from which these issues have developed'. 'Other nations do this better than we do, and Fay and I hope the History Trust can elevate the relevance of history as a foundation for many fields of endeavour'.

Professor Trevor Burnard, Head of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, warmly welcomed the news and stated that he believed such gifts breathe new life into teaching, learning and research in a program and potentially generate further forms of support.  Professor Kate Darian-Smith, current Head of the History Discipline, indicated that the gift would help support a new generation of historians – talented young scholars who are passionate about their field of study and eager to pass on skills to students. 'I'm delighted by the generosity of Fay and Barry', Professor Darian-Smith stated, 'and I believe it sends a strong signal about community support for History, and how deeply it touches and enriches lives'.

If you would like to learn more about supporting the History Trust Fund, contact us.