RIVERVIEW BURSARY PROGRAM - MICHAEL PUNCH
Sunday, February 19
The Old Ignatians’ Union had for over fifty or more years, through its widespread and popular country reunion programme, encouraged Old Boys to donate to the Bursary Fund. Fr Charles Fraser SJ, with particular help from Phillip de Baun (OR 1951 – 1955), would be guest speakers at Country Reunions and a David Jones gift voucher was provided to the raffle winner at the dinner. In this way, small amounts of money were continually added to the Bursary Fund over many years. These State-wide and interstate dinners established and maintained a wonderful camaraderie amongst Old Boys and generated great loyalty to the College and its bursary programme. Over those years many Jesuit Rectors would have made arrangements for fees forgiven or extended fee payments for families suffering hardships for a variety of reasons. In today’s language, they would be considered bursaries.
RIVERVIEW COLLEGE FOUNDATION
A significant bequest from the McKillop Family in 1985 led the College to establish the Riverview College Foundation Inc in September of that year. A Building, Welfare and Bequest fund was added to the Bursary Fund. The first two had tax-deductible status. At the same time the College Advisory Board, later to become the College Council, had created a Master Plan – “Towards 2000” – with much needed building projects including a Hall, Indoor Sports, Drama and Music Centres, Senior School boarding facilities identified. A 1987 Capital Appeal would assist in the fundraising. Further Capital appeals would be held in 1989 and 1993 to help fund these projects. A 1999 Capital Appeal was established to fund the new Fagan Boarding House, its completion timed to fit in with overseas accommodation for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
Through the efforts of Anthony Clark (OR 1953 –1957), Chairman of the newly formed Riverview College Foundation, Riverview was one of the few schools that established this tax-deductible fund from 1985. It was to be used for “families in necessitous circumstances”. This fund was sparingly used prior to 1992, but would become an important one in the following years.
The initial McKillop bequest had given great impetus towards the commencement of the College’s Master Plan mentioned previously.
Whilst there was a mention of the value of bequests to the College in the 1987 Capital Appeal brochure, greater emphasis was placed on donations to the Building Fund. Much more would be made of the Bequest Fund when the Foundation Board set up a programme of Nostalgia lunches from 1992.
THE BIRTH OF THE RIVERVIEW DEVELOPMENT OFFICE
Michael Punch had been the College Sportsmaster since 1975, the inaugural Xavier Housemaster from 1982 and a senior English teacher. He embraced the Foundation’s motto “Affection for the school and enthusiasm for its well-being”, as his uncles had all been educated at Riverview in the late 1890’s. He was appointed Executive Director of the Riverview College Foundation in March 1992 replacing Colonel Barry Tinkler and that year, with the approval of the Board, he initiated the following changes: -
WELFARE FUND GROWTH: 1997 – THE OIU CLASS BURSARY SCHEME
With the 1993 successful Capital Appeal coming to a close and after visiting several Jesuit High schools in USA, Michael conceived the idea of a Class Bursary Scheme whereby students in the 1950 – 1990 years would be encouraged to donate $100 a year (fifty coffees a year/one a week was the marketing ploy) to this tax-deductible fund.
Their gifts would be directed to students whose families were in necessitous circumstances and enable the student to remain at the College, despite severe drought challenges in the country or sickness and other family challenges. It would also keep the socio-economic mix of students these Old Boys had studied with in their own time at the College still the same as the century ended.
Fortuitously, Fr Paul Sheridan SJ (OR 1959-1962), President of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, was on leave, teaching at Riverview during 1997, and together with Michael Punch the concept was put to the Executive Committee of the Old Ignatians’ Union. The proposal was that this would be its Centenary Year gift to the College and it was based on the following: -
The concept proved very successful almost immediately as it relied on an ever-growing number of small gifts across many classes with some element of competition between them, as well as the perceived help for families battling to keep their sons at Riverview, especially boarding families. The Class Bursary Scheme can be seen as an Annual Giving Programme which in time can lead to bequest opportunities. At the end of the first year, 1997, five partial bursaries from this fund were allocated to students by the College Bursary Committee.
FORMATION OF KEY COMMITTEES
The Welfare Fund began to prosper as did the request for increased numbers of means tested bursaries. The Board of the Development Office established two Sub-Committees:
2002 BURSARY APPEAL
In 2001 the Jesuit Provincial challenged Riverview’s College Council to have in the years ahead 15% of its parents’ fees supported by bursary donations. Given that there was a continuing growth of families in need, as well as indigenous and refugee applications for a Jesuit education, the Development Office was faced with a significant fundraising challenge. In order to build up as quickly as possible a significant corpus of funds which could be added to the already growing Bursary and Welfare Funds, the Board of the Development Office mounted its first Bursary Capital Appeal with Nicholas Curtis (OR 1970 – 1973) as its Chair. The target would be to generate $3 million over three years. Within six months there were some significant gifts so that two-thirds of the total was reached in a short time. The concept of bursaries at the College, always means tested and not scholarships, resonated strongly with parents and alumni. All the while, involvement in the OIU Class Bursary Programme was continuing to grow so that the Bursary Committee would be able to offer an ever-increasing number of means tested bursaries in the years to come.
This fund, previously mentioned, was promoted through the biannual Nostalgia Lunches, which started in late 1992. These lunches, which began with a Mass and held in the College Parlour, were hosted by members of the Bequest Sub-Committee, a Committee formed by Michael Punch that included Fr Charles Fraser SJ and had Greg Bartels (OR 1939-1942) as its inaugural Chair. Amidst wonderful camaraderie and a fund of stories of the old days, the need for means-tested bursaries perhaps through a bequest to Riverview was mentioned. Within eighteen months, a bequest of $1.5 million was received by the College. There were several additional significant bequests in the following years and they have continued well into this century.
THE IGNATIAN: IMPACT OF STORIES ON ADDITIONAL BURSARIES
One of the “hats” already mentioned as key to any Development Office was the role of publications and marketing. The Ignatian, published four times each year, became an important vehicle in this regard, as it told stories about bequests received or the possibility of an endowed bursary – a bursary named after a family or a Jesuit who had been a significant presence in the life of a family or their son’s education. Several such named bursaries were generated in the 1992– 2002 decade. Endowed bursaries, the Development Board ruled, would need to be a gift of $120,000 in the early years and this was increased to $150,000, an amount that a donor could make as a one-off gift or pledged over five years. Assessment had been made that such an amount would earn sufficient yearly fee funding to sustain a bursary for forty years.
SPECIAL EVENTS: SIGNIFICANT FUNDS FOR BURSARIES
Another Development Office “hat” previously mentioned revolved around the importance of coordinating College Special Events which bring together all the parent body in an exercise of fun and fundraising. The Development Office, together with the Parents & Friends’ Association, held two very successful themed events, now possible in the newly built Ramsay Hall. One transformed the Hall into a cave with a Gold Rush theme and the other was a Night in Hollywood. Both added significant gifts to bursary funds. Several other mid-week corporate lunches were held in the Hall, organised by the Development Office. They brought over two hundred business persons together, attending as guests of College parents and Old Boys. The need for bursary funds was always the lunch theme. Many musicians, sports persons and journalists of note were among the guests or key speakers and they gave their time in an honorary capacity. One such lunch featuring Riverview’s Olympians in March 2000 remains memorable. Significant funds were generated whilst the work of Riverview in assisting students who might otherwise not have had a Jesuit education was highlighted to a wider community. Many good stories and photos would be collated and used in later Ignatian publications.
In this story of Riverview’s Bursary program, it is the wonderful contribution of so many people who have led to its success. Over many years the initial positive encouragement of Fr Charles Fraser SJ, as a crucial link with decades of Riverview Old Boys, together with the encouragement of College Rectors, Headmasters and in recent years College Council, was vital to its success.
The Development Office Board and Sub-Committee appointments, as well as the tactical structures put in place from 1992, were crucial to Riverview’s establishment of a most successful and organised Bursary program which has continued well into this century.
RIVERVIEW COLLEGE DEVELOPMENT OFFICE: 1992 – 2002
Mr G Bartels (Chair); Dr P Anderson; Mr R Barry; Mr J D’Apice; Mr P De Baun; Mr B Dempsey; Mr P Doherty; Fr C Fraser SJ; Mr P Hunt; Mr J Larkins; Mrs M O’Mara; Mr P Mayoh; Dr R Mulhearn; Mr J Schell.
Mr B Goddard (Chair); Mr G Conlon; Mr K James; Mr S Jones; Mr J Kean; Mr L Reardon; Mr D Mallett; Mr M Pascoe; Mr R Prugue; Mr P Ward.
Fr C Gleeson SJ (Chair); Fr R Bruce SJ; Fr A Bullen SJ; Mr P Cahill; Mr G Conlon; Mr R Francis; Mr S Hogan; Mr K James; Mr P Mayoh; Mr M Pascoe; Mr J Wilcox.
OIU CLASS BURSARY SUB-COMMITTEE:
Mr D Lynch (Chair); Mr P De Silva; Dr P Giblin; Mr P Mayoh; Mr S Oxenham; Mr D Tynan.
Mr C Marshall (Chair); Mr D Hayes; Mr S Hogan; Mr M McGinnity; Mrs W Milazzo; Mr D Thompson.
OIU CLASS BURSARY CONTACTS: Established 1997 – Signatories to personalised letters
1950 Bruce Rose; Terry Meagher
1951 Van Doherty; Bill Cape
1952 Van Doherty; Geoff Long
1953 John Dunford; Alan Oxenham
1954 Rod Paul; Peter Gallagher
1955 Peter Gallagher; Jim Lenehan; Tony Breslin
Michael Punch worked on the staff at Riverview for thirty years – as Sportsmaster and Senior English teacher (1975 – 1992) and Housemaster (1982 – 1992) before he was appointed Director of Development in 1992. Michael is happy to admit the work he did in setting up the Bursary Programme during his first decade in the office was the best thing he did over those years at Riverview, as it gave so many students the chance of a Jesuit education. He would also recognise the outstanding support and enthusiasm he received in the Development Office in his final years from Rod Loneragan (OR 1971-1976) and Barbara Peatman, who were part of a dynamic Development Office team.
Commenting on this research, Dr Hine thanked Mr Punch for his terrific work and added "it is now one of the largest bursary programs of its size and complexion in Australia. In any given year we currently have between 70 and 80 boys on bursaries, a number of who are First Nations, refugees or those who qualify on the basis of demonstrable financial need.
The Riverview Bursary responds to the deepest mission of Jesuit schools: from nascent beginnings that were established back in the late 80s and early 90s it now boasts a corpus in excess of $20 million that is stewarded judiciously to ensure that the boys and the families who need the funds most are the recipients. Since those early years, the Bursary Committee has become a Sub-committee of the Board with Terms of Reference that relate to its governance. In 2017 the College became incorporated so all aspects of governance apply rigorously to the fund, its disbursement and are in accord with external auditing arrangements."