Deakin Chancellor John Stanhope AM and Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO joined more than 20 members of the Costa family on 25 June to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their namesake, the university’s Costa Hall.
Mr Frank Costa AO, his wife Shirley, and their extended families sat down to afternoon tea in the hall’s reception area, nearly 20 years to the day since the original Great Hall was renamed in 1998.
The Vice-Chancellor thanked the family for their vision, which she said helped to grow the university to become the sixth largest institution in the country, as of last year.
“Universities cannot grow without the generosity and forward-thinking attitude of families like yours, so we thank you for helping us to develop this beloved hall,” she said.
Originally opened as the Great Hall in 1996, it was later renamed Costa Hall in 1998 after considerable funds were donated by the family to the Great Hall Appeal.
Costa Hall has since hosted 270 graduation ceremonies, with more than 85,600 graduates crossing its stage to shake hands and receive their degrees.
Watch the Costa Hall 20th anniversary celebrations
Mr Costa, who received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Deakin in 2003, commended the institution for strengthening the city.
“We got involved with Deakin over 20 years ago because we realised Geelong was in such a perilous state at that stage; unemployment was high, but we saw Deakin as something that might bring new life and help employability figures by attracting more people into the town,” Mr Costa explained.
“Deakin has helped Geelong so much more than we could have expected – it really brought life back to the community.”
The Vice-Chancellor added that the solid foundations of the building and a lack of creaky doors meant it quickly became a favourite late-night study destination for students, with the local pizzerias soon learning exactly where to send their deliveries.
Chancellor John Stanhope paid homage to the Vice-Chancellor’s wonderful leadership in forming a strong relationship with the Costa family that extends beyond the hall, and which will continue to inspire and impact the institution.
The afternoon tea was capped off with a surprise performance in the hall from renowned opera singer Dimity Shepherd, who entertained the family in front of a slideshow of renowned guests and graduates who have graced the building over the years.