In early 2012 Graham Tuckwell and his wife, Louise decided to contribute $50 million to establish Australia’s most esteemed scholarship at his very own alma mater. In light of his generous donation, Mr Tuckwell has been named the inaugural ANU Alumnus of the Year for philanthropy.

Canberra born Mr Tuckwell graduated with a Bachelor of Economics (Hons) and Bachelor of Laws in 1981 before going on to pursue a career in the finance and resource sector. He recalls, “I certainly did spend some time studying, that’s for sure, but I did also enjoy myself.” Mr Tuckwell sees this approach to university life as what drives the Tuckwell Scholarship ethos, enabling young leaders to have the comprehensive experience of academic rigour and community engagement.

In 2014, 25 individuals were successful in receiving a Tuckwell scholarship out of a total of 770 applicants from around the country. The selection criteria differs from many other university scholarship programs by way of taking into consideration not only academic grades, but potential, past opportunities and diversity.

“We’d like people to be selected for university courses based on the whole person,” says Mr Tuckwell, “ATAR is not where it’s at, it’s one element in selecting students.”

The Chair of the Tuckwell Foundation Board Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington says “unlike any other scholarship in existence, the applicant’s humour is taken into consideration during the selection process.”

2015 Scholar Brody Hannan had not met anyone wanting to study science at a tertiary level in his hometown of Cowra. “Graham Tuckwell was looking at the bigger picture when choosing Scholars. We come from diverse ethnic backgrounds, private and public schools, rural and metropolitan postcodes, and we all wanted to study different degrees.” It is Brody’s aim to bridge the gap between rural and metropolitan education through community engagement.

Mr Tuckwell’s advice is to “make the use of everything you can, don’t just study the subjects that are accorded to your career choices, go and try other things, university is the only chance you get to do it.”

Although the scholarship is only in its second year of existence, Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington sees the Tuckwell Scholarship “lasting one hundred years.” It is this charitable legacy that occasioned ANU to honour Mr Tuckwell with the Alumnus of the Year in Philanthropy Award.