The Arts and Humanities given $5.5 million-plus boost by generous donor

4 December 2013

"A degree in English or the arts equips you for any other field," said Kenneth Reed, who has donated over $4.5 million to the Department of English.
"A degree in English or the arts equips you for any other field," said Kenneth Reed, who has donated over $4.5 million to the Department of English.

University of Sydney alumnus and renowned Australian arts patron Kenneth Reed has donated $500,000, and bequeathed $5 million and a collection of 'Old Master' Dutch paintings, to his alma mater.

The funds will be given to the University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the University Art Gallery.

Mr Reed has donated $500,000 to fund scholarships for PhD students in English literature. This gift will endow in perpetuity a scholarship in English to be known as the Kenneth Reed Postgraduate Research Scholarship in English.

He has also bequeathed $4 million to fund postdoctoral fellowships in English and a gift-in-kind of 14 'Old Master' Dutch paintings from the 17th century. A further $1 million has been bequeathed for the care and conservation of the paintings and other works in the University's art collection.

Now retired from the law profession, Mr Reed never forgot the joy of devoting himself wholeheartedly to words as a young student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. His gift and bequest shows the depth of his appreciation for the education he received at the University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1957 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1960.

"My memories of my time with the Department of English and the Sydney Law School are very, very dear to me and so I would like to give something to the University in appreciation for the wonderful things it has given me," he says.

"My fondest memories were when I was doing English. A degree in English or the arts equips you for any other field. People need a good basis and understanding of their own language and the history and literature of their own language."

Mr Reed was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2013 for his significant service to the performing and visual arts, as a supporter and philanthropist. In 2007 he announced a bequest of $7 million to the Art Gallery of NSW and a 2005 donation of $1 million to the Australian Ballet was the biggest one-off contribution in the ballet's history.

He hopes his donations encourage others to give generously to the arts and humanities, to set up scholarship funds and support research.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Duncan Ivison, is delighted with this very generous gift and bequest.

"When someone as successful and shrewd a supporter of the arts in Australia as Kenneth has been, makes such a significant gift, it's an enormous vote of confidence in our work and the reputation of the faculty and the University," says Duncan.

"It is a huge boost, both practically and morally, for the importance of the humanities, and in this case, in the study of English literature."

The faculty will advertise the PhD scholarships in late 2014 and will be open to any PhD student working in English literature.

Mr Reed, who has also collected European art for the past 25 years, hopes his art bequest will enhance the University's art collection and assist in the conservation of its existing collection. He believes the gallery will eventually become a major attraction, similar to the Nicholson Museum.

David Ellis, Director, Museums and Cultural Engagement at the University says the collection bequeathed represents a high quality and beautiful collection of works.

"These works will greatly strengthen the University's ability to offer courses in fine arts, visual arts and museum studies," says Mr Ellis. "The bequest also comes with a generous endowment that will ensure the works are conserved and studied."

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