Our donors – ensuring a brighter future

At some point in our lives we will think about what mark we leave on the world.

Many of our donors who have given to the University during their lifetime, go on to leave a gift in their will. For others who may have had little or no contact with the University, or for whom circumstances prevented them from making a donation, leaving a gift in their will is a recognition of the value of the University and an appreciation of the work of its people.

Edward Connolly – A forever connection to the Engineering Faculty

Edward Connolly, a storeman at the Faculty of Engineering, will be forever remembered by the two scholarships in his name.

He was a dedicated staff member in the Engineering School for 20 years. He joined the Faculty in 1962 as a cleaner at the Ardmore campus. When he retired in 1982, he had been through a series of promotions from Technical Storeman to Stores Steward.

When Edward died, he left his entire estate to the University of Auckland to provide bursaries and scholarships for engineering students. The Edward Connelly Scholarships, established in 2008 and worth $2000 each, are awarded to first-year students to assist with the costs of starting university.

Today, up to 10 Edward Connelly Scholarships are awarded annually:  four Edward Connelly Kick Start Scholarships and up to six Edward Connelly Faculty of Engineering Entry Level Undergraduate Scholarships.

In the first 10 years, 60 students received this valued assistance.

Alice Wong, studying Software Engineering, was one of the early recipients: “Being awarded the Edward Connelly scholarship definitely played an important role in formulating a determined mind-set towards my studies. It gave me the confidence to enrol in the Bachelor of Engineering’s accelerated pathway programme.  After obtaining my BE (Hons), I will definitely be going into the industry to get more work experience and utilize the knowledge taught in the courses.”

Alex Shegay, a Civil and Environmental Engineering student, was another recipient: “It was a huge privilege receiving the Edward Connelly Scholarship, especially knowing the story behind it. The scholarship has meant I have not had to pick up extra shifts at my part-time work. Instead I can concentrate on achieving high grades. In 10 years’ time I hope to be using my knowledge and skills to benefit our country. I really want to give back and help communities like they have helped me.”

Cherry and Geoff Worger – A very rewarding form of gifting

When Geoff Worger was asked why he and his wife Cherry had decided to leave a gift in their will to the University, he said the reasons were very clear to them both.

“A legacy in favour of the University of Auckland is a form of gifting that is very rewarding to my wife and me. We feel we are assisting and encouraging future generations of students to achieve their life dreams.

“My gift reflects our own relationship with the University. My wife and I were accepted into the University of Auckland as very adult students, through the New Start programme, and we really appreciate the quality of teaching and the encouragement we received while studying.  In the early 1950's, at fifteen and a half years of age, I entered the work force as a carpenter's apprentice. I have been successful in my life.  However, although virtually self-educated, in hindsight, I feel my critical analysis skills were under-developed prior to attending University.  It was enlightening to sit with the mostly younger students in lecture theatres or tutorial rooms and to listen to the various arguments and theories being expounded.  Our lecturers were simply brilliant. What a privilege it was to be taught by such fine minds.  When I was seventy-three years old, my wife and I both graduated Masters in Art History.  

“We want to assist the University in continuing and advancing its vital role in society.

“Including the University in my will also aligns with our desire to help others.   As well as having a legacy in my will, in 2011 we also set up an annual Art History prize for students.  While at University, we were impressed by the quality of our younger fellow students.  We found them mostly to be mature, responsible and hard working.  Many were finding life difficult, working part time as well as achieving good results in their assignments. This monetary prize is not for the top student but for the student who achieves well through hard effort and shows enthusiasm in their subject.   We feel these are essential qualities that are to be encouraged and rewarded.  It is very satisfying to meet with the chosen student every year and it gives us great pleasure to see how our gift has encouraged and motivated them to higher achievement.”a

Marjorie Prince – Providing support for neurological research

When 15-year-old Marjorie Gadsby of Sheffield, England set sail for New Zealand in 1922, it was in the hope that her poor health might improve in the warmer climate. The move succeeded as she lived for another 78 years.

Marjorie was determined to be self-supporting. She did a business course and took a job as a typist. By night she studied Accountancy and Mercantile Law at the University of Auckland. She worked as a personal secretary to a senior officer in the American Red Cross during World War II and later an accountant and law clerk.

Marjorie and her husband, Fergusson Prince, had a lifelong interest in politics and her interest continued throughout her life.  She was also a keen gardener and energetic tramper.

Marjorie Prince’s legacy lives on through the support of the Ferguson and Marjorie Prince Charitable Trust for neurological research at the University of Auckland Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Professor Bronwen Connor is one of those who have benefitted:

“Funds from the Ferguson and Marjorie Prince Charitable Trust allowed us to undertake world-leading research into the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. This work involved the use of a novel technology developed in our lab, which allows us to directly turn human skin cells into immature brain cells. We can subsequently grow these into specific types of mature brain cells.

“The funds obtained from the Prince Charitable Trust enabled us to further our technology to generate dopamine brain cells, the cell type selectively lost in Parkinson’s disease, from human skin. By taking skin samples from patients with Parkinson’s disease and using these to generate dopamine brain cells, we can study the mechanisms that cause dopamine brain cells to die in Parkinson’s disease, and identify possible new drugs for the treatment of this debilitating disorder.

“Previously, it had not been possible to study human dopamine cells from Parkinson’s patients in this way. These cells also offer an exciting opportunity for cell transplantation therapy for Parkinson’s disease, generating replacement brain cells from a patient’s own skin.”

Margorie’s generosity has been such that in 2011 the Ferguson and Marjorie Prince Charitable Trust was added to the “Chancellor’s Circle”, which celebrates the University’s most significant benefactors, past and present.

The Muriel Roberts Study Abroad Award – To support students with disabilities

A scholarship for students with disabilities to study overseas is thanks to a bequest from alumna Muriel Roberts, who died in 2015 aged 98. Muriel Roberts was profoundly deaf, and it wasn’t until her late fifties that she decided to study. Nineteen years later, she had three degrees from the University of Auckland – a BA (English), MA (Italian) and an LLB. When she graduated, she thanked staff in Student Disability Services for providing her with a tape recorder for her lectures.

Muriel’s inspiring story will be motivation for students who wish to study abroad, especially those who have faced barriers to travelling and living overseas. The inaugural recipient is Sarai McKay.

Sarai (Tainui Waikato, Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Rongomaiwāhine) is completing her final year of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Māori Studies and English and working part-time for the University’s Māori Student Association. She manages a range of illnesses including endometriosis, coeliac and irritable bowel syndrome as well as depression and anxiety.

“When I was at high school, I got to a point where I was extremely malnourished, anaemic and underweight,” Sarai, now 21, recalls. “I’d faint a lot and had to take a lot of time off.”

The former deputy head girl of Lynfield College and kapa haka leader says she has become better at recognising when to stop and take better care of herself. However, the decision to take a year off to get well mid-way through her degree still went against her high-achieving, stoic work ethic.

“It’s not my style and it’s not really how I was raised. It was a huge sacrifice. But I needed to take time to educate myself on how to manage my illness, restructure my priorities and reassess my values.”

Now her life is back on track and she has won two scholarships, including the Muriel Roberts Scholarship for a disabled student to travel overseas, to complete her Bachelor of Arts with a focus on Indigenous Studies at the University of Wollongong in Australia. “If I hadn’t received the scholarships, there is no way I could have accepted my place in the Indigenous Studies programme in Wollongong,” Sarai says.