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A brief history of the Foundation for Knox College and Salmond College Inc.

The idea of creating a Foundation was the brainchild of a previous resident of Knox College, eminent in his profession, living in Wellington. He had come to Dunedin for a College function and happened to be chatting to the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Theological Education Committee of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, who was also a member of the Council of Knox College and Salmond Hall. The forward-thinking alumnus dropped his idea into the conversation, explaining the purpose of a Foundation would be the establishment of a Fund which would be used from time to time for the financial benefit of both Knox College and Salmond Hall, as it was known in those days. The idea was passed on to the Chairman of the Council and the Master of Knox College, both of whom espoused it, and by the end of 1981 the Foundation was in place. 

During the decade, particularly due to the efforts and enthusiasm of the Master, donations towards the Fund, some of them very substantial, were received not only from past residents and other interested individuals but also from businesses, firms and other organisations. Thanks to all this generosity - and prudent investment since then - the Fund now amounts close to $ 2 million.


A decade ago, the governance of the Colleges was challenged and the Presbyterian Church replaced the Council with a Commission. One of its immediate tasks was saving Knox College from imminent closure due to non-compliance with the much stricter building code established after the Christchurch earthquakes in the preceding months. In a mere 10 weeks over the summer recess of 2012-2013, fire protection was upgraded, earthquake strengthening was carried out, general refurbishment was completed (including ceilings restored to their original state), one wing rebuilt internally, all repainted and sympathetically restored throughout, even to retaining the carved initials of previous residents in wardrobes. It was a remarkable piece of restoration despite the 300-odd fire doors that were required to be installed. 

In addition, during that same period, Somerville Close was bowled and rebuilt to 3 times its previous capacity, and an additional storey was built on top of one of the residential wings of Salmond College.


Not surprisingly all this came at a cost – a mere $ 15 million. Also not surprisingly the Chairman of the Commission was ferreting around to find every dollar he could to finance this work. His eyes lit on the funds held by the Foundation. He called in the Chairman of the Foundation and suggested that perhaps the Foundation should be wound up and the funds be made available for contribution towards the cost of the restoration. The Chairman of the Foundation listened with growing unease, if only because a large number of people had made very generous donations towards the Foundation funds which at that stage amounted to $1.4million, certainly for the purpose of assisting the Colleges but not necessarily in the form of bricks and mortar. The Chairman of the Commission was disappointed that his proposal was rejected by the Chairman of the Foundation. 

There was also a problem with the Constitution under which the Foundation was supposed to operate. Not only was it couched in legal jargon but the Trustees were the members of the Finance Committee of the Council for Knox College and Salmond Hall, together with three others outside the Council. When the Commission took over, more than half of the Members of the Council, and consequently of the Finance Committee, resigned, leaving the Foundation unable to function effectively. In order to safeguard the Foundation and its funds for the use for which it was formed, the Chairman decided to revise the Constitution, which was accepted at an Annual General Meeting that the rump of the Trustees attended. The major result was to reduce the number of Trustees from 17 to 7 and to achieve an existence completely independent of any Body. Most importantly the original purpose of the Foundation, which was to establish a fund for the benefit of Knox College and Salmond College, was recognised and remains unchanged to this day. The Foundation continues to be an incorporated body registered as a charitable organisation.


The Trustees of the Foundation have used some of its income from investment for the growth of its Funds but most of its income is used for awards to ease the cost of accommodation in the Colleges for academically able students who might not otherwise be able to reside in the Colleges and be exposed to the unique experience that the Colleges offer. In order to be able to offer more assistance to the Colleges, the Foundation welcomes donations of any size or form in order to increase the Fund. 

Click here for more information on the Foundation and how you can contribute to the Award funds

A T Gray, Trustee

September, 2022

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