The role of philanthropy and the involvement of industry leaders are woven throughout the University of Wollongong’s history from its earliest beginnings. It is fitting that as the University celebrates 40 years as an autonomous institution the UOW Outlook Magazine team sat down with UOW alumnus David Groves, to discuss the importance of shared history, a philanthropic mindset and an appreciation for hard work.

David Groves now calls the eastern suburbs of Sydney home. Known for its iconic beach and cafe society, Bondi Beach, it seems a world away from the industrial heritage of Port Kembla and the steel industry. Yet the Illawarra region and the University of Wollongong have played an important role in the Groves family for more than 40 years.

David was one of the first graduates to accept his degree from the newly independent university in 1975, but his association with the campus was established even earlier.

His father, Frederick, worked here when it was still a college of the University of NSW and it was when David finished school that the former Port Kembla student decided that he wanted to graduate from the burgeoning institution.

A Shared History (David Groves) - Inline Image Medium

“When I graduated, I had the option of receiving my qualification from the then College associated with UNSW or from UOW – I chose the University of Wollongong.” David graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and became a chartered accountant. David’s career and contribution to the financial sector in Australia saw him hold significant positions for some of the most prestigious institutions in Australia.

David worked his way to Executive with Hill Samuel Australia, which became Macquarie Bank – the large global investment bank and financial services group. Despite his relocation to Sydney, the Illawarra region remains an anchor for the Groves family. “My family has always had a close relationship with the South Coast and the University of Wollongong. Two of my nephews and my younger sister have graduated from UOW and my mother and sister still live in the region” David said.

My father firmly believed that scholarships should not just go to the smartest kid

When speaking with David you sense the importance of his father’s active involvement with PhD students at the University as an important influence on the Groves family philanthropic support of the next generation of students. “The University is close to both our hearts. My father firmly believed that scholarships should not just go to the smartest kid. He admired the ones who worked the hardest” said David. That commitment to the University has continued since, and David and his wife, Kathryn, are two of the longest serving supporters of the UOW student scholarships to which they began donating in 2003.

“He used to say that perseverance and perspiration were everything and that the person who worked the hardest deserved to get the results.”

To that end, David and Kathryn chose to support the Learning and Development Fund which helps students who have financial hardship, to be able to attend and stay at UOW. Currently the Learning and Development Fund supports 10 students with a $3000 per annum scholarship over three years, but is hoping that, with more support, more students will receive help to be able to study.

“Kathryn and I have been lucky in our lives and we wanted to give something back. I was the first in my family to go to university so I like the idea of bursaries and scholarships which can help students to achieve their own goals.” David said.

The Groves family are the embodiment of the values of hard work and determination as evidenced by their long-term commitment through philanthropy to the next generation. Like many other families, their belief in the value created by education and UOW is a joy to celebrate in this milestone year.

    Bachelor of Commerce, UOW (1976)