The inaugural Board of Benefactors’ FESTUM

More than 150 guests assembled at the National Wine Centre for the inaugural Board of Benefactors’ FESTUM, which recognises the exceptional contributions made by alumni and friends who have pledged more than $25,000 to different areas of the University.

Before the main event, guests were treated to a stunning outdoor performance by the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, featuring the intermezzo from Cavaliere Rusticana and the Mendelssohn violin concerto. The Welcome to Country, which followed, was an imaginative contemporary dance piece performed by the group, Yellaka, who then led the guests into the dinner.

FESTUM guests were honoured by the attendance of the Governor of South Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC and Mrs Le. The Chancellor, Deputy Chancellor and Vice Chancellor were also present for the occasion.

Hickinbotham Hall was a resplendent venue, putting on a banquet style dinner with fine wines and beer sourced from the University’s alumni. In line with the evening’s theme, guests were treated to a superb dinner, including a flaming Bombe Alaska for dessert.

Chief Executive of External Relations, Inga Davis welcomed the guests and introduced Director of Advancement, Marek Kwiatkowski who conducted the order of events for the evening. He began by outlining the key features of the University’s development program, stressing the crucial importance of building endowment, ring-fenced across Schools of Study, to underwrite the core values of a world-class university. These were competitive scholarships for quality admissions and universal access; both analytical and experiential learning for student employability; research outcomes, enhancing world ranking and reputation; and a contribution to the health and prosperity of South Australia. He emphasized the importance of gifts of all sizes; but noted the special role of the Board of Benefactors in creating an individual as well as a collective impact.

The Governor then addressed guests with a moving reflection on the solid foundation his university studies laid for an enriching career. Acknowledging the place of the University of Adelaide in building his rewarding and fulfilling life in Australia, the Governor thanked the Board for enabling the tradition of building our State through education. His Excellency also highlighted the role of benefactors in planting the seeds for great research and teaching across all faculties.

After dinner, Con Michalakis gave an inspirational speech on behalf of the benefactors, clearly laying a mark for his own motivation to give back to the institution, which had made a difference to his career path; and in appreciation of the great time he had enjoyed as a student, and in his association with the University.

Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Peter Rathjen echoed the sentiments of previous speakers, highlighting the power of philanthropy in the University context, particularly in the important aspect of backing its own judgement in decision making and direction. Telling the story of the University’s first gift from Sir Walter Watson Hughes, Professor Rathjen reflected on the incredible feats the University has gone on to achieve thanks to this initial gesture of generosity and the subsequent gifts from generations of friends and alumni.

The evening rounded off with music from the Capital Swing Jazz Band, to which a small number were bold enough to take to the floor. The following morning, a selection of guests, strong in determination and stamina, reconvened at Urrbrae House for tours and a subsequent brunch.

Many thanks to all those involved in making the first FESTUM such a success.

Future benefactor events are in Sydney (2019)Adelaide (2020), Melbourne (2021), and Adelaide (2022).

Find out more about how you can give to the University:

For more information, please contact Marek Kwiatkowski at

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