Posthumous Honorary Doctorate conferred to Victorian philanthropist Betty Amsden AO

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At Monash University’s graduation ceremony for Education students at 11.00am on Tuesday 23 May, Victorian philanthropist Betty Amsden AO, who died in February this year, will receive a posthumous Honorary Doctorate (HonLLD) in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to the arts and education.

A Monash Fellow, Betty was along-time patron of the Arts Centre Melbourne and Guide Dogs Victoria, board member of the RSPCA and establisher of a number of respected aged care facilities.

Betty’s generous donation to Monash University has funded scholarships for 25 Betty Amsden AO Monash Mentor Leaders over five years. Launched this year, five students will receive these scholarships in 2017.

The Betty Amsden AO Monash Alumni Mentoring Program specifically supports students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and demonstrate leadership ability and ongoing commitment to supporting equity and inclusion across the University. The Betty Amsden AO Mentor Leaders, who may have overcome significant barriers to study at Monash, are mentored by Alumni Mentors who are Monash alumni with a strong commitment to helping young people reach their full potential.

The program is part of Access Monash, which leads the University’s strategy for improving the access and participation in higher education of students from under-represented communities, while ensuring their future success.

Betty Amsden’s friend Frankie Airey, a Melbourne philanthropy consultant will accept the honour and speak on her behalf.

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Front L to R: Jessica Barnes (Brodie's mentor), Jack Huynh, Claire Audley (Jack's mentor)
Middle L to R: Fiona Milo (Emily's mentor), Brett Tait (Liam's mentor), Emily Wilson, Brodie Hopkins, Sue Tan (Harry's mentor), Harry Kaladis
Back: Liam Dogger

Quotes from students receiving the Betty Amsden AO Alumni Mentoring Program scholarship  

Harry Kaladis, Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences:

“Being a part of the Betty Amsden AO Alumni Mentoring Program is a fantastic experience; to be mentored by an industry professional in a chosen field. I personally felt very honoured to be receiving this scholarship and invitation into the program. The industry mentoring provides invaluable experience, however the scholarship itself instilled confidence in that the study and extracurricular activities I was undertaking were having a positive effect on me becoming industry ready. 

“I was extremely happy to hear the news that Betty Amsden was receiving the prestigious Honorary Doctorate honour from Monash University. Betty was a wonderful person who has had a positive effect on many people’s lives, including myself. She inspired me to continue to participate in the Access Monash mentoring program as well as to continue to pursue my own personal goals. I was very privileged to have met Betty and am very grateful to the opportunities she has provided me.”

Jack Huynh, Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Architectural Design:

“The Betty Amsden AO Alumni Mentoring Program is the peak of my experience with the Access Monash Program, and it completes my journey from an Access Monash VCE mentee to Monash Mentor. The program instils opportunity to prepare for the next transition, from university to work, whilst providing opportunities to connect with professionals within industry. I’m grateful to be part of Betty’s program, as I knew she had wished to see our Monash Mentors continue to grow with support of Monash alumni. To have met Betty and experience her passion and wisdom was invaluable, and to be part of her program would further instil a sense of giving back, as the experiences learnt can be shared to fellow mentors and mentees. It also provides the opportunity in the future for me to come back to be an alumni mentor after graduating.      

“I was very pleased and happy to know that Betty was to be awarded the Honorary Doctorate by Monash University. The award recognised her contribution and work for helping up skill the younger generation. Her fierce passion, contagious personality and strong sense of giving back has no doubt touched many individuals, mentees and mentors, who had the opportunity to be within her presence. The award further acknowledges Betty as a role model for giving back and helping others, as she lived with the idea of giving without expecting anything in return.”

Brodie Hopkins, Batchelor of Arts (Global) and Bachelor of Science

“I'm very humbled to be a part of the first Betty Amsden AO Alumni Mentoring Program this year. I understand that it was Betty's vision to see the Access Monash mentoring program come full circle, providing support the entire way from high school, through university and finally into the work force. I'm sure that Betty would have been delighted to see her ideas come to fruition.

“Personally, I believe there are very few who would be more deserving of this award. Betty's humble philosophy on life, which centred upon the joy of helping others, was embodied by her tireless work for countless noble causes. From her support of the arts and her love of animals, to her work in assisting the youth of Australia in their educational pursuits, Betty was characterised by a life of compassion, kindness and fun.”

Betty Amsden AO – biography

Betty Amsden AO was one of Victoria’s most visible and vocal advocates for philanthropy. She made an extraordinary contribution towards the arts and education, via generous gifts and tireless work in program development and community education.

Betty developed giving programs and foundations at organisations including the Arts Centre Melbourne, Polyglot Children’s Theatre, 3MBS, the RSPCA, Guide Dogs Victoria, the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Australian Ballet Centre. She was passionate about using her skills and expertise to mentor younger generations to become future leaders and to make a difference. Betty’s generous donation to Monash University funded scholarships for 25 Betty Amsden AO Monash Mentor Leaders over five years.

Known for her generosity and strength of character, Miss Amsden established the Princeton Private Hospital in Camberwell in 1964

For her service to the community as a philanthropist, Miss Amsden was honoured with the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2002, Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2014, received the Melbourne Award for Community Service by an individual in 2010 and was inducted in the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2012.