The gift of equal opportunity

Long-term givers who donate small but consistent amounts over time are vital to ensuring the stability and survival of programs, scholarships and initiatives across the University.

A commitment to providing equal educational opportunity is what inspired alumnus Gary Portley (Bachelor of Arts ’79), who has been giving small amounts to UQ every year, without fail, for almost 20 years.

“The important thing for me was that people shouldn’t miss out on the university experience and a tertiary education just because they can’t afford it – that’s why I started giving,” he said.

Portley (pictured) elected to have a small amount taken directly from his salary every fortnight and also donated larger cash gifts when he was able.

“I don’t give an enormous sum of money but over the years it adds up, and that’s really the point. It’s not one big thing but lots of little donations that make a difference.”

Gary Portley

Portley, who worked as a professional staff member at UQ for 40 years, also funds an annual $1000 prize in the name of his late partner Dr John McCulloch OAM, who taught Classics and Ancient History at UQ.

Portley said the gift, which is awarded to the best paper presented by a student to the annual Work-In-Progress (WiP) Conference, is a way of recognising his partner’s work after McCulloch passed away before receiving his own PhD, which was awarded posthumously.

“When John died I thought the prize was a good way to memorialise him because he was so passionate about his studies, his PhD and his work,” Portley said.

“John always thought the WiP Conference was a brilliant thing as young people often don’t get the opportunity to present their work. The Dr John McCulloch Memorial Prize recognises students’ accomplishments and encourages public speaking.

“Both of us really believed in equality for all people of all backgrounds, and that’s the reason for donating to UQ – it’s really about getting people into university and giving them more opportunities.”

For more information about bequests, contact UQ Bequests Manager Kate Heffernan on +61 7 3346 3904 or