Every one of our donors has a unique connection to the University, whether they studied here, feel a connection to a particular faculty or even worked here.
Stephen Dee happens to be both an alumnus and a current staff member, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 1978 and a Diploma of Drama in 1979.
Together with his wife Laura Dee, they have created a new award to support outstanding English Literature students with their study costs. Five students will receive $2,000 each over the next five years.
Stephen’s appointment to the University of Auckland was a perfect catalyst to set up this opportunity.
“We both have a philosophy around supporting community and society. For a while, we had talked about giving to the University of Auckland, particularly the English department,” says Laura.
The intersection of alumni and staff is a unique relationship and offers a strong insight into how the University of Auckland compares to the rest of the world.
“I never realised until years later just how good my degree was and I feel lucky to have gone to the University of Auckland,” Stephen says.
The value of an Arts degree is often underplayed, but having travelled the world and grown a fulfilling career from his degree, Stephen understands the true power it can hold.
“For good reason, there is a lot of focus on STEM subjects in education. However, there is less consideration towards the “A” for Arts,” he says.
“A degree in Arts can give someone a solid foundation of critical and analytical skills that they can apply across their career.”
The first award recipient, Madeleine Ballard, met with her benefactors in person, after writing an expressive letter of thanks.
“English literature has long been the focus of my academic studies and always one of my principal pleasures,” she writes. “I count myself singularly lucky to call such a joy my study.”
“I got quite teary reading the letter from Madeleine. It really made us feel like we are supporting the right person”, Laura says.
After this experience, Stephen and Laura encourage others to consider giving to the University of Auckland.
“If you are thinking about it, put your hand up and be counted. It doesn’t have to be a major gift – a small amount of money can make a difference,” she implores.
“Furthering education and supporting research is an investment back into the country and the connection with a young student is really lovely”.
Pictured from left: Stephen Dee, Madeleine Ballard and Laura Dee