Alumnus gives the gift of education

Image of a man

Dr Paul Gardner AM (PhD 1974), has expressed his gratitude to Monash University for a rewarding 36-year career by making a bequest to the Faculty of Education. This is the first ever bequest by a former staff member to the faculty.

“I was motivated to make this bequest through an overwhelming feeling of gratitude – gratitude to this country that provided a safe haven to my parents who were refugees from Nazi Germany and gratitude to Monash University for a professional life that was challenging and full of great opportunities to travel and pursue my research interests,” he said.

“Monash gave me the opportunity to teach and to pursue the research that I was interested in. It was a great place to work because we had a critical mass of people interested in science education, which was my area of interest.”

Dr Gardner, 72, began his career at Monash teaching an evening DipEd course called Principles of Teaching. Through the years he has taught at DipEd, BEd, MEdSt and EdD levels and supervised Masters and PhD students. He has also acted as Chairman on a number of faculty committees and as convener of a University committee.

Dr Gardner established his reputation as a researcher through his work on the measurement of students’ attitudes. This research eventually led to the creation of a Masters level subject called Measurement of Attitudes – the first postgraduate education subject in Australia where students could study attitude measurement in any depth.

History of giving

Dr Gardner has a strong belief in giving back to the community. His work in this area was recognised in the awarding of a Member of the Order of Australia in 2008 for service to the Jewish community, through his involvement with organisations fostering interfaith and intercultural relations, and promoting human rights and social justice.

But it was during his time in the US as a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University that he gained an appreciation for the impact of philanthropy on higher education.

“In 1979 the annual donor budget for Stanford was roughly equal to the total budget of Monash University. I realised that, while there are many generous people here in Australia, we had not developed a culture where it was regarded as natural to donate,” he said.

In fact, he was surprised to discover that not much has changed in the intervening years and that he is the first member of the faculty to leave a bequest. It will establish the Dr Paul Gardner Memorial Fund.

"Although I have not been specific about how the bequest should be used, in general it will be for scholarships and prizes to support students,” Dr Gardner said.

“I hope that anyone who feels a sense of gratitude to Monash for the opportunities that it has given them will also consider making a bequest to the University as an expression of that gratitude.”