The Frederick May Foundation

The Frederick May Foundation was established in 1976 to honour the memory of Frederick May, the first Professor of Italian (appointed in 1963). Its aim was to promote, foster and assist the study of Italian language and culture within the University and in the wider community.

The Foundation provided a bridge between two cultures – Italian and Australian. It was a bridge constructed on a solid framework of contacts built over the years in Italy and elsewhere in Europe and North America. It is supported primarily by its membership and also by assistance from the Italian Government, business sponsors and, of course, the infrastructures of the Italian Department and the University of Sydney. From the early 1980s the Foundation was been recognised in the Italian-Australian cultural accord as an official agent for cultural exchange.

In 1999, changes to the way in which the University handles its accounts, and the way in which responsibility is delegated, together with a review of Foundations and Centres in the University, have made it clear that the Frederick May Foundation for Italian Studies could continue as a Foundation.

The Foundation was successful in the twenty-three years of its life in creating a forum for the exploration and development of Italian issues, encompassing both the Universities and the wider community. Despite the past generosity of the Italian Government, the current involvement of the Italian Institute of Culture, and the generosity of benefactors including the late Mr Vivian Chalwin, Mrs Adrienne Lussu, Mr Antonio Bamonte, and our late President, Dr Mario Benanzio; the Foundation did not succeed in transforming its reserves of goodwill and energy into financial capital.

The Foundation was no longer able to receive direct financial assistance from the Italian Government, and other organisations, which are able to receive funding, have taken over the Foundation's role in supporting Italian language and culture in the Australian community. It has therefore been appropriate to refocus the Foundation's energies on activities that are directly related to the University's principal activities of research and teaching.