25 February 2008

The University of Queensland Endowment Fund (UQef) was launched in Brisbane today with a $18 million kick start from UQ graduates Graeme Wood and Andrew Brice.

Co-founders of accommodation website Wotif.com, they committed $8 million worth of Wotif.com shares between them. Mr Brice pledged a further two million shares over the next two years and Mr Wood will contribute an additional $2 million over the next five years.

The total value is approximately $18 million, based on Wotif.com’s share price in late February 2008.

UQef is a new avenue for donors to support academic initiatives that they feel need stronger support or accelerated development. Examples of ways in which they may choose to do this include scholarships, named professorial chairs and contributions to specific research programs.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield enthusiastically welcomed the fund and praised Mr Brice and Mr Wood.

“This initiative is tremendous for its foresight as well as its generosity,” Professor Greenfield said.

“We are delighted that Andrew and Graeme have chosen UQ as the target of their personal generosity and the prescribed private fund,” Professor Greenfield said.

“It is rare for an Australian university to benefit from this scale of donation from alumni, yet graduate philanthropy is likely to be a hallmark of internationally competitive Australian universities in the not-too-distant future.

“Andrew and Graeme are ahead of their time, and I imagine universities everywhere will welcome their example.”

Mr Brice and Mr Wood said the motivation to create the fund followed a universal trend of benefactors wishing to become more engaged with their contributions.

“Engagement with the donation process is desirable because it offers accountability and motivation,” Mr Brice said. “Donors are interested in being actively involved in the process and seeing the positive impact that their support has on the individual, industry or the community.”

Mr Wood said he and Mr Brice hoped the opportunity to personalise the process would help spark an increase in the level of educational philanthropy throughout Australia.

UQef will work in partnership with UQ to provide the best possible outcomes for the students of UQ and the future of the University.

It will be overseen by a board consisting of UQ alumni and prominent business people including Mr Wood, John Wiley of Carnegie Wylie, Tim Crommelin of ABN AMRO Morgans and Darryl McDonough of Clayton Utz, who will ensure the expectations of benefactors are met.

Media contacts:
Fiona Kennedy (UQ) 07 3365 1088 / 0413 380 012
Sophie Mercer 0430 507 100 / Sophie.Mercer@wotif.com