Josephine and Robert Shanks’ relationship with RMIT began in the 1960s. Forty years on, they donated a scholarship to support PhD students in science and technology.
Here they discuss their philosophy of giving while living.
I first visited RMIT as a schoolgirl in the late 1960s to look at the Elliott 803 computer in Storey Hall. Computers were a rarity in Melbourne then, it was very exotic.
Once I finished school, I opted to enrol in Computer Science at RMIT. I returned to RMIT in 1980 as senior programmer in administrative computing.
After both working here for many years, we’d talked about creating a scholarship. We believe it is essential for Australia’s future that it has people qualified to the doctorate level.
Our vision for the scholarships is long-term.
We see our gift as an investment in the future of capable individuals and, through them, the wider community.
I enrolled in Applied Chemistry at RMIT in the mid-1960s. It widened my horizons, and provided me the opportunity and encouragement to enter a professional career.
The campus of the 1960s was quite different from the campus of today. The principal recreation space was the lawn in front of the State Library, and the teaching buildings (apart from buildings 1 to 7, and 9 in Bowen Street) were converted commercial buildings and workshops – one was even a former hostelry.
Nevertheless I had dedicated teachers to whom I remain indebted.
Some years after completing my doctorate I applied to lecture at RMIT, to develop a polymer science program in the Chemistry Department. I enjoyed the academic environment.
While I’ve been at RMIT for a long time now, I change my teaching and research objectives progressively.
Now in the contemplative stage of life, having made adequate provision for ourselves, we looked to where we could contribute financially to make a difference.
Having been here as a student, as a teacher and researcher, I thought it would be a good idea to fund students in the longer term to learn about science and technology.
I can teach, and supervise postgraduate students, for a certain amount of time, but funding a scholarship is my way of supporting and encouraging students into the far future.
Read the rest of Josephine and Robert Shanks’ stories in the RMIT Alumni Magazine.