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Passion for history fires generous gift

A significant gift of $10 million for the Arts and Humanities from Jane Hansen and Paul Little, AO, was announced today with the launch of The Little Foundation.

The gift is being made to the University of Melbourne to establish The Hansen Trust, an ambitious project to foster an innovative and vibrant approach to the teaching of history and encourage deeper student engagement with the subject.

The Trust will receive $8 million from The Little Foundation, believed to be the largest ever donation to the study of history in Australia. The gift is the largest donation to the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne in its history.

The remaining funds will be used to support other projects within the University of Melbourne.

Ms Hansen, herself a lover and student of history, wants to raise the public visibility and value of history education.

“I want to encourage awareness of the significance of an education in history and nurture a passion and appreciation for its relevance in the wider community,” she said.

“It is my intention that The Hansen Trust will change the conversation about history. As a key discipline in the humanities, history teaches us to think innovatively, critically, imaginatively and morally; it helps us to enter into the lives of those who went before us and shows us that the skills required to respond to the challenges of our society won’t just come from laboratories, datasets and spread sheets.

“I hope this gift will also develop the well-rounded, engaged and creative students we need to navigate Australia’s future,” Ms Hansen said.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts Professor Mark Considine said that although Melbourne has a strong reputation in History, The Hansen Trust will help the program to become world-class.

“In 2016 the Faculty is opening a new building that provides cutting edge teaching and learning spaces for students, so this tremendous investment in our activities couldn’t come at a better time. The Trust will fund The Hansen Chair in History in perpetuity, three Hansen Lectureships for a period of five years, an annual Hansen PhD Scholarship and, in conjunction with the Faculty of Arts, a Senior Lectureship in History,” he said.

“Together, these initiatives promise a really bright future for History at Melbourne, and I’m looking forward to working with colleagues to extend Jane Hansen’s inspiring vision.”

Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis, said the establishment of the Trust is reflective of the University’s overarching strategy ‘Growing Esteem’, where under which the university has committed to innovation in teaching, learning and engagement with the community.

“In the long-term, the comprehensive nature of this gift - supporting teaching and learning at multiple levels – can transform history at Melbourne, and through this, the wider community,” he said.

The gift from Ms Hansen, Mr Little and The Little Foundation is part of Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne.