Melissa Smith, Director, Development, RMIT University was formerly Development Manager at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).
While at UTS in 2010, Melissa led the strategy for the successful AUD$25 million ask from Chinese businessman Dr Chau Chak Wing for a new Business School building designed by internationally acclaimed architect, Frank Gehry. From the gift, $20 million will be directed towards capital, and $5 million towards establishing an endowment fund for scholarships for Australia-China exchange.
To date, this is one of the largest gifts to an Australian university, and the largest donation from a mainland Chinese individual to any international institution.It also ranks in the top 10 largest gifts in Australian philanthropic history. The leadership gift established UTS's philanthropic capacity and raised the university's profile both locally and internationally.
Through securing the $25 million gift, UTS was able to embark upon the first Frank Gehry building in Australia, and one of the most innovative university campus buildings in the Southern Hemisphere.
Scholarship recipients of the Australia-China exchange programs will contribute significantly to international relations and cultural understanding in years to come. The leadership gift had transformative impact for the university in achieving excellence; raising its profile internationally; and established firm foundations for philanthropy at UTS for years to come.
Melissa applied her own personal commitment to social change, securing a gift not only of such magnitude but also from a very new market that it has earned her a place in the history books of Australian philanthropy.