About Friends of Antiquity

Friends of Antiquity was established in 1988, as a Special Interest Group of the University Alumni Association (now Alumni Friends), with the aim of supporting the UQ Classics and Ancient History Department. The idea of forming such a group was the brainchild of the late Adjunct Professor Adrian Heyworth-Smith, who became the foundation President of Friends of Antiquity. The founding Patron was Mrs Betty Fletcher (dec’d), and additional patrons have been Mr Justice Peter Connolly (dec’d), Emeritus Professor Milns AM (dec’d), Adjunct Professor Heyworth-Smith (dec’d) and the most recently elected, Dr Steve Papas OAM. 

Friends of Antiquity has made a significant and lasting contribution to the continuation of Classics and Ancient History at UQ, and continues to provide support in a number of key areas:

  • Emeritus Professor RD Milns AM Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship: In honour of Emeritus Professor RD Milns AM, acknowledging his dedication to the study of Classics and Ancient History and his determination to ensure that students had the best possible opportunities to study at UQ, this scholarship has been established to support undergraduate students studying Classics and Ancient History within the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry who are facing financial hardship.
  • RD Milns Antiquities Museum: In 1963, the purchase at a London auction-house of a 5th century BC Red-figure Attic amphora marked the establishment of a collection of antiquities designed to enrich the teaching programs of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland. The RD Milns Antiquities Museum is now the foremost collection of classical Mediterranean antiquities in Queensland. Described as a highly accessible teaching museum for both the general public and university-level students and researchers, the Museum has grown from a small collection of artefacts to a catalogue of several thousands (and now has a prominent location on the 2nd floor of the Michie Building). In 2013, the RD Milns Antiquities Museum celebrated its 50th anniversary at The University of Queensland with a major exhibition (Then and Now: 50 Years of Antiquities). The association of Alumni Friends—and specifically of Friends of Antiquity—with the Museum was celebrated in a special exhibition, held in 2017 to mark the Golden Jubilee of Alumni Friends. The exhibition, Fifty Years of Giving, is still available, and includes detailed information on many of the artefacts which were presented to the Museum as the result of funds raised by Alumni Friends/Friends of Antiquity. Donations in support of the RD Milns Antiquities Museum by Alumni Friends/Friends of Antiquity total in excess of $201,000 (representing a current value of significantly over $300k).
  • Betty Fletcher Memorial Scholarships: In 1991, Friends of Antiquity, in conjunction with the then Department of Classics & Ancient History, resolved to honour the memory of the Late Betty Fletcher by continuing to raise funds additional to those already donated by her husband, Owen Fletcher, for the establishment of a Travelling Scholarship to enable a meritorious student of Classics and Ancient History to travel for academic purposes to any place that was part of the civilisations of Rome or Ancient Greece. The scholarship, which was awarded for the first time in 1992, is presented to a student selected by a committee which consists of the Friends of Antiquity President, the Discipline Convenor of Classics and Ancient History and the HPI HoS (or nominee). The successful scholar, on their return, is required to provide a report and to give a talk to Friends of Antiquity about the scholarly benefits achieved from their travel overseas. All the scholars have made excellent use of their award (currently over $5,000) and all have benefitted greatly from the experience. A Sunday Series date is devoted to this talk, as well as to the announcing to members of the winner of the current year’s scholarship.
  • ​In 2017, to mark the Alumni Friends Golden Jubilee, the School (in conjunction with the RD Milns Antiquities Museum team) created a special exhibition, Betty Fletcher: Lover of Wisdom, Lover of Beauty, Lover of Humanity. The on-line exhibition explored the life and legacy of Betty Fletcher (including a celebration of her philanthropy, and information about the Fund), and shared fascinating information on the scholarship recipients (including reflections on the impact of receiving the scholarships, as each provided information on their scholarship trip, how the trip had enriched their UQ academic experience and on their current role). 
  • In 2019, Friends of Antiquity made a further donation of $50,000, which was matched by UQ to establish the to establish the Betty Fletcher Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship at The University of Queensland to support undergraduate students studying Classics and Antiquities, within the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry.  
  • ​The Paul Eliadis Chair of Classics and Ancient History, was created as the result of an important donation by Paul Eliadis AM (current Friends of Antiquity President). This professorship, only the third of its kind in Australia, has ensured that the culture and languages of ancient Greece and Rome will be taught in perpetuity at The University of Queensland. 
  • Susan Blake Lectureship in Classics & Ancient History: Following the 2007 creation of the RD Milns Classics and Ancient History Perpetual Endowment Fund, in 2019 the School was delighted to confirm the establishment of a permanent teaching role in Classics and Ancient History. The position was made possible as the result of the support of Friends of Antiquity, of donors to the RD Milns Classics and Ancient History Perpetual Endowment Fund, and as the result of a bequest by Mrs Susan Mary Blake (a UQ Alumna who was a long-standing member of Friends of Antiquity). The School acknowledged the support of Friends of Antiquity, and of its members, in being able to establish this full-time, continuing lectureship, which Professor Alastair Blanshard (Paul Eliadis Chair of Classics and Ancient History, and Discipline Convenor) described as ‘the most ambitious objective of the Fund—to establish an academic position at the university in perpetuity.’

The founders and members of Friends of Antiquity have established an important legacy of support for the study of Classics and Ancient History at UQ, maintained through a volunteer-managed program of engagement and advancement activity. ‘Funds raised’ to donate back to UQ students, researchers and educators is an important metric when considering the importance of Friends of Antiquity. Donations by Friends of Antiquity members are impressive—circa $400k (equivalent to over.$600k when accounting for inflation), with a further $140k under management as at 1 November 2019 (primarily in the Betty Fletcher Scholarship Fund). But Friends of Antiquity's contribution and impact is understood as much broader and wider than the numbers.