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5 Minutes with a Benefactor – David Anstice AO (Fr 1966)

Despite having spent the last 30 years living and working in the united states, David Anstice has maintained a strong connection with his Australian roots, and with his college, St Andrew’s. in 1998, David established a Scholarship, together with Tom Yim (Fr 1966), in memoriam of their friend Bill Caldwell (Fr 1964). David also supported three rooms in the new Hanks building a number of years ago. More recently, he established a new annual scholarship, The David Anstice Rural & Regional Scholarship, to give a student from the country the opportunity to experience their university education in a residential college.

What would you say was the best thing about your time at College?

The lifelong friends I made at St Andrew’s.

What made you choose to live at St Andrew’s rather than anywhere else?

As a boy from Wagga Wagga, I could not attend University and live at home. I was Presbyterian, and had been to The Scots College. St Andrew’s was linked by its religion and was a known quantity to my parents. I am so glad I never went to Paul’s or Wesley, and John’s was never in the mix!

Why did you choose to study Economics at University? Do you have any advice for students in the same focus and looking to enter the workforce soon?

I wanted a business (or maybe a federal government) career, preferably with an international footprint or focus. I did not want to go into a profession such as medicine, dentistry or law.  Economics did not equip you for business per se, but it did equip me well for thinking about and analyzing interesting business and political issues.

College was quite different in your time to today – what are the main changes that stand out to you today?

Inclusion of women, obviously. A great addition! Technology-enabled learning today must be a big difference from my time. I think the significant emphasis on academic achievement is to be applauded – that was less so in my time. What has not changed is the sense of College as a real community, which provides an openness to disciplines and activities beyond the strict confines of any one faculty or school. What has changed is likely superficial (I am sure the food is better). The spirit of community whilst at University is the critical advantage of college.

How did the College shape your future employment and life opportunities?

Employment, not directly at all I would say – there were no careers events, no networks of business folks, and so on back then. Most students were in one or the other of the professions. But College did equip me for life, in all its abundance. It was formative in my first three years of being responsible for myself.

In your opinion, what is the most important work that the College does?

Provide, through a full-blooded residential experience, a sense of community, and an understanding of the need for pursuing seriously what you have chosen to do with your life, and connecting with likeminded others. You finally get a chance to know who you are, and what you might be capable of doing.

What contribution or achievement in relation to College are you proudest of?

That I graduated – given all the distractions!

You have been based in the US now for nearly 30 years – what are the differences to Australia in lifestyle and career?

The USA exists on a grander scale and a more global stage. Development of talent is taken very seriously in the corporate sector, enhancing diversity is second nature (although it may not always seem so from this distance), and quality of effort is all. Standards are set high and pursued – at least that is what I found (but I was lucky in my lifelong employer). By contrast, I would say Australia is simply less ambitious, and willing to take a better lifestyle as a trade-off. That is not a criticism. I understand the attractions of the Australian work/life balance. But if you want to find out how good you are, you have to play in the major leagues. I guess I believe fundamentally that each person should contribute to their full capacity – and you have to find out what that is. Australians do that in sport actually.

What do you like to do in your spare time away from work?

Swim. Play tennis. Watch (and play) cricket. Walk. Travel extensively. Read history. Go to the opera, and the theatre. Support Australia.

Why did you choose to establish the Bill Caldwell scholarship?

Bill was a good friend, and someone who was destined for great achievements. His life was cut short by a freak accident, and he left a wife and four young children. A way to remember him was very important.

Your scholarship supports a student who has achieved across their academics and extra-curricular activities (sport/culture/music/arts) and shown leadership. Can you expand further on why these values were important to this scholarship?

A residential college experience adds significantly to a University degree. An individual needs to understand and appreciate others, to develop perspective and an appreciation of life beyond narrow confines. Sport, music, culture, travel, reading outside your job needs – these all broaden horizons and deepen understanding of others. Leaders, properly experienced and equipped, can take people and organisations to better places that they had not imagined before.

What motivates you to stay involved with the College?

It gave me much at a very formative part of my life – I cannot repay those who went before me in any better way than to support those following behind me.

As a supporter of the College, an alumnus and a philanthropist, what advice would you give others considering making a gift or leaving a bequest?

Make gifts every year (I have not always!), and make gifts that you are comfortable with financially – $20 is fine (it means you care). When you are considering a larger gift, talk to people at the College about what are the most important needs today, and find an intersection point for common ground.


In 2020, David established a significant annual scholarship that will support a rural and regional student to come to St Andrew’s for the next three years. In conjunction with this, David has also set the College and Foundation a fundraising challenge: If we can match his new scholarship with three similar size gifts (solo donations, or a group donation), he has pledged to give a second scholarship the same size as the first. If you think you might be interested in helping us double the size of David’s scholarship gift and support even more students, please get in contact with Hannah Atwell, Director of Advancement for more information via: T: +61 2 9565 7303 or E:

You can read about the impact of David’s giving in our interview with Adele Burke (Fr 2018), who was the recipient of the Bill Caldwell Scholarship in 2020.

The Advancement Office would like to thank David for taking the time to share his story with us and for setting this fundraising challenge.

To read more impact of giving stories click here.